How to Prevent Infants from Choking While Bottle Feeding

Woman feeding hungry baby with bottle
Hold your baby and keep his head straight during a feeding. (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

It's frightening to watch your baby choke and struggle to breathe after consuming a bottle. According to the MayoClinic.com, infants often choke or gag because their airways are so small, or possibly because of an underlying medical condition, such as a swallowing disorder or developmental delay. If your baby is prone to choking, it's time to get back to basics and make sure you are feeding him properly. It doesn't take specialized nipples or expensive bottles to help prevent your baby from choking on his bottle.

Step 1

Attach a nipple to the bottle that's recommend for your baby's age. Check the nipple's label for a recommended age range. According to the National Network for Child Care, formula or breast milk should flow through the hole at a rate of one drop per second. If it flows faster, or there is a crack in the nipple near the tip, replace it before feeding your baby.

Step 2

Hold your baby so his head is slightly elevated and straight. Don't allow your baby's head to tilt in either direction. Before offering the bottle, allow the nipple to fill with milk. It's also recommended to hold the bottle at a right angle.

Step 3

Lay the nipple against your baby's lips and allow him to orient and comfortably move the nipple into his mouth. Observe your baby as he drinks the formula. If he begins to gulp, this is a sign the flow is too strong, which could cause the baby to choke. If this occurs, replace the nipple with one that flows at the proper rate.

Step 4

Continue to feed your baby, ensuring that his head isn't tilted and is slightly elevated. If he begins to choke or gag, remove the bottle from his mouth immediately and slowly sit him up. Allow him to clear the formula or breast milk from his throat before you continue feeding.

Step 5

Watch for signs the baby is full. If your baby stops sucking on the nipple or spits out the formula or milk, remove the nipple from his mouth. Allowing it to remain could cause the liquid to fill your baby's mouth, which can lead to choking.

Step 6

Remove the nipple from your baby's mouth if he falls asleep near the end of the feeding. If he's still sucking, AskDrSears.com recommends instead allowing your baby to soothe himself by letting him suck on your finger. You can also provide your baby with a pacifier for this purpose.

Things You'll Need

  • Age-appropriate nipple

  • Pacifier

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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