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Why Does the Baby Bottle Nipple Collapse (3 Reasons and How To Fix It!)

Why Does the Baby Bottle Nipple Collapse? (3 Reasons and How To Fix It!)

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Bottle feeding your baby is one of the many rites of passage for new parents since there are so many details that need to align properly to have a good feeding session. If you’ve ever had the nipple on your baby’s bottle collapse, you may be wondering why does the baby bottle nipple collapse and what can you do to prevent it next time.

Your baby’s bottle nipple may collapse during feeding because it is unable to keep up with how much your baby is drinking, there is an obstruction blocking the airflow, or it has been incorrectly assembled. Once you have confirmed the correct assembly, pull on the nipple until the valve opens. If the problem continues, it is time for a larger nipple.

Keep reading for more information on why your baby’s bottle nipple is collapsing and specific tips for how to keep it from happening to the most popular brands.

Parents smiling at baby while feeding from bottle

Why does the baby bottle nipple collapse?

Any parent who has bottle-fed their child has probably experienced the frustration of a collapsed nipple since it’s a common problem across many popular bottle brands.

Each baby bottle has a venting system to allow air to flow into the bottle while your little one sucks the milk or formula out of it. Usually, the venting system will be a small hole located near the base of the nipple. Despite the variation in designs across brands and styles, this is a necessary component in all baby bottles.

Your baby’s bottle nipple may be collapsing because:

  • he is sucking harder than the influx of air can compensate for
  • there is an obstruction blocking the airflow valve
  • the bottle has been improperly assembled without an airflow valve

The first step to fixing your baby’s bottle issue is to figure out the cause of the nipple collapsing. In most cases, it’s an easy fix once you adjust the bottle nipple size or valve.

Why is my baby’s bottle nipple collapsing?

One of the common causes of the bottle’s nipple collapsing is that your baby is ready for a bigger nipple or a faster flow size. If your little one is sucking excessively hard, they may be creating a vacuum inside the nipple because the airflow valve is not designed to handle such a fast flow.

In this case, the solution is to start using the next size up. If you are also breastfeeding, you may want to speak with your lactation consultant before making the switch. Generally, you should keep the bottle’s flow as slow as reasonably possible in order to prevent nipple confusion, although there are some varying perspectives on whether nipple confusion is a legitimate concern.

Another reason the nipple could be collapsing is that there is something obstructing the airflow valve. It could be due to you holding the bottle a certain way, or even something lodged in the tiny valve hole. Be sure to check before each use and if you see this still happening, make sure you or your child aren’t holding their hand over the valve.

Additionally, be sure to make sure that the bottle, nipple, and cap ring are all from the same manufacturer. Using a different nipple than the cap ring could cause not only airflow issues, but cause leakage, and seals to not work properly. It is always recommended to use the same brand for every component whenever possible.

Do you need to change the nipple size?

Knowing when to change the nipple size in your baby’s bottle is very important in the first steps of parenthood. If you are solely bottle feeding your child, then the tell-tale signs of when to increase the size are generally given as cues from your baby, such as discomfort during feeding.

Regularly collapsing bottle nipples during mealtimes is a sure sign that it’s time to go up a nipple size. You may also find that your little one is taking longer and longer to eat, which is caused by trying to intake more volume while being restricted by the flow size and airflow.

While your baby’s specific nipple size needs may vary, here are some common size recommendations:

  • Preemie / Level 0 – 0+ months
  • Level 1 – 0+ months
  • Level 2 – 3+ months
  • Level 3 – 6+ months
  • Level 4 – 9+ months
  • Y-Cut – 9+ months

If your baby’s bottle nipple is collapsing and they’re fussy during feeding time, it’s likely time for a different size nipple.

Baby holding and drinking from bottle on bed

How to keep a bottle nipple from collapsing

The most common reasons for your bottle nipple collapsing are an obstructed venting system, the nipple becoming too small for your baby’s needs, or the components not being assembled properly.

To fix a collapsed bottle nipple, firmly pull the nipple in the direction of the valve until you see the slit in the valve open up. Depending on the reason for the collapse, this may not solve the underlying issue.

If this approach doesn’t work, try opening the bottle before each use, (once the milk or formula is mixed and ready to feed) and manually pushing firmly on the valve to open the slit in this way. Reviews have shown that both of these methods have a high success rate and should correct any issues you have with the nipples collapsing.

If you’re still having trouble with the nipple collapsing, it may be time to go up a size.

Don’t see the valve at all? Chances are your bottle is assembled incorrectly – make sure that all your parts are from the same brand to ensure that the valve isn’t blocked by another piece of the bottle.

Tommee Tippee bottle nipple keeps collapsing

Tommee Tippee bottles are popular with parents who are also breastfeeding because the nipple is designed to imitate the feel of mom’s breast and decrease the likelihood that your little one will reject mom in favor of the bottle. Unfortunately, the anti-colic design is particularly vulnerable to sticking and may stop venting properly.

The Tommee Tippee nipple can be especially prone to collapsing because the vent in the seal has closed up. It’s a good practice to locate this seal at the base of the stem and pinch it gently between your fingers to reopen each time before giving your baby his bottle.

This issue is common enough that the Tommee Tippee website even includes this recommendation as part of its Frequently Asked Questions.

Avent bottle nipple keeps collapsing

The valve on the Avent nipples is located below the molded number that indicates the size flow of the nipple. For example, if the nipple is a newborn nipple, it will display an “N” and the valve will be just below that.

Once you have found the valve, grab firmly below it and pull upwards until you see the slit in the valve opening. Once you see the opening, you’re ready to begin feeding your baby.

You should also routinely clean and sterilize the components of these bottles due to the possibility of debris being caught within the valve and blocking the airflow.

How do you keep Nuk nipples from collapsing?

Similar to both the Tommee Tippee and Avent nipples, the venting system on Nuk nipples is a vent located at the base of the nipple, close to the ring cap.

If your Nuk nipple is collapsing, check all components of the bottle to ensure they are clean and free of debris.

If the bottle components look good, check to make sure that all components are the same Nuk brand since using different brand pieces often leads to venting issues, leakage, etc.

If this didn’t solve the issue, the last step would be to grab firmly on the nipple, situating your fingers close to the valve, and pull firmly until you see the valve open up.

Mom feeding baby from bottle

Dr Brown bottle nipple collapsing

The venting system for the Dr. Brown nipples is unique compared to most other brands on the market.

Instead of a small valve at the base of the nipple, this brand hosts an internal system that consists of a wide neck straw as well as a silicone cover that sits just inside the ring cap of the top. This venting system prevents the air from mixing with the liquid inside of the bottle, allowing the air to maintain pressure without putting unwanted air into your baby’s belly.

Check the components of the bottle and venting system to ensure that there are no blockages within the nipple, vent cap, and straw. Even the smallest amount of built-up formula or milk could prevent the proper airflow.

If this isn’t the issue, then check to make sure you have correctly put together the venting system. Check to see if the top of the bottle is too tight and loosen it some to relieve the pressure inside of the bottle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you fix a collapsed nipple?

The two main causes of bottle nipple collapse are incorrect nipple size or something blocking the airflow of the bottle. To fix a collapsed nipple, check the bottle components to ensure the air valve is open and there’s nothing getting in the way. If it keeps happening, your baby may need another nipple size.

How do you know if bottle nipple is too small?

If the bottle nipple is too small for your baby, you may notice your baby is fussy or impatient when eating. It may also take them longer than usual to finish a bottle. Consistent bottle nipple collapsing is also a sign that it’s time to move up a size.

How should a bottle nipple fit in baby’s mouth?

Choosing the right nipple size is an important part of successful bottle feeding. You can tell you have the right size nipple when your baby is feeding well and maintains their latch throughout the feeding. If your baby is fussy or clicking during bottle feeding, you may want to look into a different nipple size.


Bottle feeding can a tricky process, especially as a new parent. There are so many factors to consider when choosing the right bottle, formula, or feeding routine. A common problem with baby bottles in nipple collapse. If this happens to you, you might wonder why does the baby bottle nipple collapse?

Bottle nipple collapse is usually due to an incorrect nipple size or improper airflow. In both cases, it’s typically an easy fix, so you can get back to your baby’s normal feeding routine right away.

Joshua Bartlett
Joshua Bartlett

My name is Joshua Bartlett I run this blog with my wife Jarah. We have more than 11 years of parenting experience including three girls and one boy. I started this blog in late 2018 when I realized that I was dealing with baby-related issues on a constant basis…please read more about me here!

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