How to Have a Calm-Gulp Free Feeding

By: Amy Peterson, BS, IBCLC of BreastandBottlefeeding.com Monday, 13 May 2019 05:00 PM How to Have a Calm Gulp-Free Feeding

Babies feed many times each day. As moms, we want this to be a happy experience for our babies. Helping your baby have a gulp-free feeding is one way to make the feeding calm. Sometimes a mom may hear her baby gulp during a feeding, but sometimes gulping can be more subtle and quiet.

If your baby is struggling with gulping during bottle-feeding, you will be able to see it in your baby’s feeding behaviors even if you can’t hear it. A baby’s face will look worried with a furrowed brow when she feels overwhelmed. You might even notice your baby’s arms move up to block the bottle, or hos hands shift from a closed position to fingers that are spread apart. These are signs that the feeding doesn’t feel right for your baby. If your baby is struggling with some gulping during a feeding, here are some tips that may help.

Look at your baby’s lips

Your baby’s lips need to form a complete seal on the nipple. If there are gaps between your baby’s lips and the nipple, chances are your baby is swallowing extra air which can sound like gulping. Using a nipple that gradually widens at the base and has a place for your baby’s lips to rest is helpful for many babies. You may need to try more than one nipple to see which works best for your baby.

Check the bottle flow

Most babies start with a slow flow nipple. Keep in mind that brands flow differently from one another, so a slow nipple from one brand might flow faster than a slow nipple from a different brand. Use a nipple, such as the Evenflo Feeding Balance + Nipple, that allows your baby to swallow after every one or two sucks without gulping.

Feed in a semi-upright position

Bottle-feeding your baby a slightly upright position allows the milk to collect in the mouth, rather than the at the throat, so your baby can have a controlled swallow. For example, think of drinking from a cup while sitting up versus lying down. When lying down, gravity causes the milk to rush to the back of the throat which can result in gulping. A more upright position can prevent the need to gulp.

Allow your baby to rest briefly during a feeding

When a baby breastfeeds, milk stops flowing periodically between letdowns. This is nature’s way of allowing the baby a brief rest to catch his/her breath. Many babies will stop sucking and rest during bottle-feeding on their own. But if your baby tends to continuously swallow which can lead to gulping, help you baby rest by leaving the nipple in the mouth and tipping it down slightly so the milk doesn’t reach the nipple tip. When your baby starts sucking again, let the milk flow again.

Has your baby struggled with gulping while bottle-feeding? We would love to hear which tips helped your baby feed more calmly!


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