Why Does My Baby Make Clicking Sound while Bottle Feeding?

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Clicking sound while bottle feeding means your baby is breaking tight seals around the bottle nipple that he made with his lips. Read on to understand why a baby is making a clicking sound and what you can do to stop it.  

You may have heard of a baby clicking while breastfeeding, but when a baby makes a clicking sound while bottle feeding, it may take you by surprise.  

Bottle feeding is just as hard as breastfeeding. Drinking milk from a bottle is also a learned skill for the baby.

baby drinking milk from a bottle
Photo by Lucy Wolski on Unsplash

If your baby is making a clicking sound, the baby is breaking suction while bottle feeding. The problem is comparatively easy to fix than a baby suddenly refusing a bottle or baby chews on a bottle instead of drinking.

You may not have faced the later problems just yet but wait until the baby is older.

But for now, let’s focus on why a baby is making a clicking sound, and once you know the exact reason, it will be easy to fix.

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What is the Clicking sound while Bottle feeding?

Clicking is a sound that comes out of a baby’s mouth when they suck on their tongues. The clicking sound is similar to the sound that when you take your tongue up against the roof of your mouth, firmly press against the roof and then release.

Clicking sounds from a baby’s mouth may not be as sharp and strong as an adult’s, but it will help you identify if your baby is actually making clicking sounds or dealing with something else.

Sometimes (but not always), the clicking sound is accompanied by a baby dribbling milk or formula from the corner of the mouth.  

Why is my baby making a Clicking sound while Bottle feeding?

Your baby makes a clicking sound while bottle feeding because they cannot maintain suction. Or in other words, the baby is repeatedly breaking seals around the bottle nipple they made with their lips.  

There are several reasons why a baby may not maintain suction while bottle feeding.

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Bottle-Feeding Position

The position in which you bottle feed your baby is very important. For example, if you are bottle-feeding your baby in a lying-down position with a bottle at a 90-degree angle, it will cause milk to overflow in the baby’s mouth.

In this case, the baby won’t be able to control the flow of the milk resulting in breaking suction to swallow and breathe before their mouth is filled again. Overflow of the milk in the baby’s mouth can also cause the baby to choke or gag.

Nipple size

A bigger nipple size will allow a faster milk flow that the baby can not handle.

The baby is not latching properly on the bottle nipple

If you are directly putting a nipple into your baby’s mouth, your baby might have a shallow latch on the bottle nipple. A shallow latch with a bottle nipple can also make a clicking sound while feeding.

Baby is not Hungry

Sometimes baby makes a clicking sound or chew on bottle nipple when they are not hungry. It could happen if you give a bottle every time a baby fusses.

If they are fussing for no apparent reason, check their diaper or take them to a quiet room for a nap.

Tongue-tie

Tongue-tie is a medical condition that some babies are born with. A thick band of tissue tethers the bottom of the tongue to the baby’s mouth, restricting the tongue’s mobility.

Babies with tongue-tie have to swallow milk while feeding. In addition, reduced tongue mobility leads to tiredness resulting in losing suction while bottle-feeding or breastfeeding.

If you think your baby’s tongue is tied, she may need a small surgical procedure. However, it is a minor procedure.  

Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion may cause the baby to lose suction while bottle feeding as they can’t breathe properly. However, clicking due to nasal congestion is temporary, and it will go away once the baby is better.

If you think your baby is congested, put a drop of nasal saline in the baby’s nose before every feeding session to help them breathe better while feeding. Also, feed the baby in an upright position when they are sick.  

Thrush

Thrush is a fungus infection in the baby’s mouth. It can make a baby’s mouth sore or itchy, causing the baby to lose suction while feeding. Clicking because of thrush is temporary, and once you treat the baby for thrush, they will stop making a clicking sound.

Ear infection

Sucking while bottle-feeding builds pressure in the ear. So, when the baby has an ear infection, the pain from pressure can be excruciating. And to deal with the pain, the baby may try to break seals around the bottle nipple resulting in a click sound repeatedly.

Get your baby checked for ear infections and follow your pediatrician’s recommendation for the treatment.

Teething

Teething can also cause a clicking sound or bite on the nipple while bottle feeding. To relieve pressure from the gum, the baby may break suction repeatedly while bottle feeding. Teething related clicking can be seen around 6, 8 or 10 month.

Teething can cause a change in their feeding behavior, but the change is temporary. You can also help your baby by giving them a cold teether or teething necklace to chew on before feeding. It will help relieve pressure from the gum before feeding.  

How to stop the baby from clicking while bottle-feeding?

Once you know why your baby is clicking while bottle feeding, it will be easy to fix the problem.

Is your baby making a clicking sound at every bottle-feeding session? Is there any change in feeding position? Or change in a bottle or nipple? Is someone else feeding the bottle? Is your baby sick or teething? Or do they have an oral anatomy problem?

Paying attention to their clicking behavior will help you identify and rectify the issue.

Here is how you can help a baby from clicking while bottle feeding.

Proper bottle-feeding position

The baby may lose suction while feeding if they are not positioned properly. Baby and mom both have to be comfortable while feeding. If the baby has to tilt the face for bottle feeding, it may not be the ideal position for bottle feeding.

Also, feeding a baby lying down can result in the baby not controlling the milk flow.

The paced bottle feeding is the best way to feed the baby. Paced feeding allows babies to control the flow of the milk and set the pace of the feeding. In paced bottle feeding, you need to hold the baby in an upright position instead of lying down.

Holding the baby in reclined position will ensure that milk from the bottle isn’t pouring into the baby’s mouth there, helping the baby maintain tight suction.

Check out this video on how to pace feed a baby or check out this post on how to pace feed a baby step-by-step.

Change nipple size

Milk flowing too fast from the nipple will fill the baby’s mouth too quickly and won’t allow the baby to swallow and breathe. In addition, it will result in milk leaking from the corner of the mouth and clicking sound.

If you are using a fast flow nipple for your newborn, you may need to change it to a slow flow nipple. For newborns, get a newborn nipple size which is size 1. For a preemie, use nipple size zero.

Proper latching onto the nipple

Putting the bottle nipple directly in the baby’s mouth can lead to a shallow latch, causing a clicking sound while feeding.

When you offer a bottle to your baby, first tickle your baby’s lip with the bottle nipple. Then, keep the nipple pointed up toward the baby’s nose when he starts opening his mouth. Once the baby’s mouth is wide open, let him latch on the bottle nipple.

Identify Hunger cues

If you give a bottle to your baby when they are not hungry, they will either chew on the nipple or play with the bottle in his mouth. When they are not hungry, they will use the bottle as a pacifier.

Identify baby’s hunger cues or track their feeding. Depending on their age, they might need to feed every 2 hours or 3 hours.

Get your baby checked for possible tongue-tie

If you have tried everything in this list and still your baby is making clicking sounds while feeding, you may need to get him checked for the possibility of tongue-tie.

If your baby is diagnosed with tongue-tie, he will have to go through a small procedure to fix it. It is a common procedure, and many newborns go through it.

Once the tongue-tie is fixed, the baby will maintain suction while feeding and stop clicking.

Clicking sound may be Normal

Sometimes clicks are temporary due to sickness in the baby. For example, as mentioned earlier, nasal congestion, teething, ear infection, or thrush can cause a temporary change in feeding behavior.  

Soreness in the mouth due to teething, pressure due to ear infection, or nasal congestion can cause the baby to lose suction for swallowing or breathing resulting in clicking sound.

But clicking sound due to sickness is temporary, and the baby will go back to normal feeding once they are better.

Sometimes baby clicks tongue for fun. As long as a baby grows well, gains weight, and has age-appropriate wet and dirty diapers, there is no need to worry about baby-making clicking sounds.

Clicking sound while bottle feeding and Gas

Clicking sound while bottle-feeding or breastfeeding is mostly due to the baby breaking suction while feeding. When the baby breaks the tight seal to bottle nipple that they form with their lips, it results in the swallowing of gas.

And when the baby loses suction repeatedly due to overflow of the milk or poor latch or poor position or wrong nipple size, it results in excessive air swallowing. When the air gets trapped into their tummy, it leads to gas in the baby.

You can prevent the baby from swallowing air while bottle feeding by ensuring that the baby is positioned in an upright position and latched on correctly while feeding.

Once you figure out the cause of clicking and take steps to help the baby stop clicking while bottle feeding, the gas problem may reduce significantly.

Gas is very common among babies regardless of they click while bottle-feeding or not. The key to preventing gas is to burp a baby frequently while feeding.

If the baby still has gas after the baby stops clicking sounds, you may need to get into the habit of giving tummy massage to the baby every day. It will help the baby release gas easily. Also, check out this article on what to do when a baby screams in gas pain.

Conclusion

The Baby-making clicking sound while bottle feeding is frustrating. But once you know the reasons for this feeding behavior, it will be easy to fix the problem.

For example, clicking sound associated with latch or position is easy to fix while clicking sound due to tongue-tie, requires professional support and guidance.

Sometimes clicking sound is temporary due to illness, and other times baby makes a clicking sound for no apparent reason. In this case, you will have to wait it out. Once your baby feels normal, it will return to a normal feeding pattern.

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