How to Prevent a Baby From Swallowing Air When Bottle Feeding

Preventing your baby from swallowing air when he is bottle feeding reduces the amount of gas that eventually ends up in his belly. This gas produces a discomfort that causes your baby to fuss and cry as he tries to relieve himself of the pain and pressure. While collapsible, angled and vented baby bottles help reduce excess air intake as your baby sucks, there are other measures you can take to reduce it even more.

  1. Shaking Problems

    • Pour expressed breast milk and liquid formula gently into the bottle. A gentle pour helps to prevent air bubbles from forming inside the bottle, according to Pregnancy.org. Avoid shaking the bottle after filling to prevent unwanted air bubbles from forming. If you use powdered formula, prepare the formula and water in a clean container and gently add it to the bottle. After heating a bottle, swirl the formula gently to disperse the heat, do not shake.

    Bottle Angle

    • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, holding your baby’s bottle at the proper angle helps to reduce excess air intake as she sucks. Air automatically fills gaps that are not filled with a steady flow of milk inside the nipple, making it more likely that your baby will suck in air along with milk. Hold your baby in the semi-upright position while holding the bottle at a 45-degree angle, which ensures that the inside of the nipple completely fills with milk.

    Check the Nipple

    • Too small a nipple may cause your baby frustration as he has to suck harder to get the milk. A nipple that is too big, on the other hand, allows milk to flow too quickly, which may cause him to gag and gulp air. Pregnancy.org recommends checking the flow rate of the nipple by holding the bottle upside down. As the milk drips from the nipple, take note. A nipple of adequate size should flow at a rate of one drop per second.

    Breast To Bottle

    • When switching from breast to bottle, the right nipple not only eases the transition, it also helps prevent excess air intake during feeding. The sucking motion of a breastfed baby differs from that of a bottle-fed baby. For this reason, pediatrician Dr. William Sears recommends choosing a bottle nipple that is more like a real breast -- one with a wide bottom that gradually rises to form a nipple. A slow flow is also ideal, since it mimics the natural flow of milk from the breast.

    Feeding Time

    • The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests feeding your baby at the first sign of hunger. Waiting too long may cause her to suck the milk from the bottle too quickly, which means more air sucked in, as well. Early signs of hunger include fussing, reaching, crying and sucking on her hands. Bottle-fed newborns generally require a feeding approximately six to 10 times a day. Once solid food is introduced, bottle feeding is usually reduced to five times a day.

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