How Long Should Bottle-feeding Take?
How fast your baby feeds can affect how much milk he drinks, how much air he swallows, and his enjoyment of feeding. Feeding too quickly or slowly can cause problems. Discover how you can influence how long it takes for your baby to feed.
- RN, RM, CHN, MHN, IBCLC
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Ideal feeding times
The faster your baby feeds the more he's likely to drink. If your baby drinks his formula too quickly, there's a risk he may overfeed (i.e. drink more than he actually needs) and/or swallow large amounts of air. Both of which may result in tummy discomfort or spitting up soon after feeding. If your baby completes his feeds too quickly, this could be because the nipple* is too fast.
If he feeds too slowly, this can occur because the nipple ring is screwed on too tight (see notes on common bottle feeding problems) or because the nipple* is too slow. Both problems can make feeding become very tiring for a young baby and he may fail to finish his feed or fall asleep before the feed is completed - resulting in the need for more frequent feeds.
As a guide, the following times are recommended to bottle feed your baby.
- 20 - 40 minutes for newborn to 3 months.
- 15 - 30 minutes for babies 3 months to 6 months.
- 10 - 20 minutes for babies over 6 months.
* Nipple manufacturers provide a guide on nipple speeds suitable for different age groups. Although a nipple may be recommended for your baby's age, this does not guarantee the speed is suitable for your individual baby. Some babies will have a stronger or weaker suck compared to others.
Written by Rowena Bennett