Nipple Confusion vs Flow Preference

Many new moms worry about giving their breastfed baby a bottle because they are afraid that their baby may get nipple confusion. There are actually two different types of confusion that may happen when bottle feeding a breastfed baby – Nipple Confusion and Flow Preference.

Crying BabyNipple Confusion happens when a baby forgets how to properly latch on to the breast. This may happen after a baby has spent significant time away from the breast while taking a bottle or pacifier. In the case of nipple confusion, the baby will still want to breastfeed, and will root toward the breast, but when he gets there, he won’t remember how to latch on or will have an improper suck preventing him from breastfeeding. Nipple confusion typically happens in newborn babies who have been introduced to the bottle before they have had a chance to learn how to breastfeed and before they have developed a strong breastfeeding relationship with their mother.

Flow Preference on the other hand, can happen to a baby at any age. After being introduced to a bottle, the baby may prefer the breast and refuse the bottle because the baby prefers the flow of the milk at the breast or the baby may prefer the bottle and start to refuse the breast because they prefer the flow of the milk from the bottle over the breast. In cases of Flow Preference, babies will often scream or arch their backs in defiance when they are brought to the breast. Alternatively, some babies may just turn away from the breast and act disinterested.

Did your baby have Nipple Confusion or Flow Preference? What did you do to coax your baby back to the breast? Were you successful? Please leave a comment on this post and share your experiences.

Stay tuned….our next blog post will discuss methods for bottle feeding breastfed babies which help moms to avoid having their baby developing a flow preference for the bottle.

2 comments to Nipple Confusion vs Flow Preference

  • My difficulties actually stemmed from having an inverted nipple. So, I’m along the same guidelines (problems with breastfeeding) hope this helps. I had an inverted nipple on my left breast and when I began to breastfeed, my daughter wouldn’t latch. I was seriously lopsided for a while :) Finally a friend suggest I use an ice cube on my nipple and rub it between my fingers. No, it wasn’t pleasant, but it worked!! Hope this helps anyone with this problem!

  • […] I would avoid using the nipple shield unless it is determined that you really need it. It can cause nipple confusion and you really don’t want to have to deal with that unless you have […]

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