Baby bottle nipples come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They also can be made of several different materials, like silicone or latex. Nipple shapes can be orthodontic, which are a bit flatter in shape than traditional nipples, or traditional with variations in shapes and sizes. Nipples also come in flow speeds. Different brands name their speeds differently, but usually nipples come in slow, medium and fast speeds. The size, shape and number of holes in the top of the nipple help regulate the flow of milk or formula as the baby sucks on it. The larger the holes and the more in number, the faster the liquid will come out. Babies start with the slowest flow speed and work their way up to faster speeds over time. While purchasing the appropriate flow speed nipple for your baby is the best route, if you're in a jam and need to widen the holes in your bottles nipple, follow these steps.
Evaluate how your current flow speed is working. If your baby is constantly choking as he is feeding, chances are the nipple speed is too fast. If your baby seems frustrated while eating, working hard to suck, and has a pattern of eating small, frequent meals, chances are your nipple speed is too slow, and you may want to widen the bottle nipple.
Sterilize the bottle nipple. Place the bottle nipple in boiling water for about 5 minutes. This will kill bacteria and prevent it from invading the new or widened nipple hole.
Sterilize a sewing needle. Heat it until red hot. You can use a lighter to heat the needle. Be sure that the needle is sterile to prevent the spread of bacteria. If your existing hole is bigger than a standard sewing needle, use a larger-gauge sewing needle.
Insert the cooled needle into the existing hole. Slide the needle through the existing hole so that the widest part of the needle works to expand the existing hole. Work the needle around the hole in a circular fashion to further stretch the hole.
Run the nipple through the dishwasher or wash with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and test the new flow speed. Hold the bottle upside down when filled with liquid before giving to your baby. If the flow seems to be slightly increased, test the flow on your baby. Use caution the first time using the nipple now that it has an increased flow speed.
If you are putting thicker liquids in the bottle, instead of a needle, use a small pair of scissors. Sterilize the scissors, insert one blade into the nipple hole and make a small snip. Repeat until desired width is achieved.
Replace nipples every 3 months. They can break down and lose quality after repeated use.