The Ethan Nipple - One parent's invention of a post-operative feeding device


The Ethan Nipple: Front and Side view.

How to make an Ethan Nipple:

(Excerpts from "Ethan Nipple: A Father's Unique Post Op Feeding Device". To view the entire file online click here .)


* Small pointed scissors
* One nipple

The base of the nipple needs to be as firm as possible and the underside should be flat (free of raised areas present on some nipples). I used the nipples that come with the Mead Johnson Cleft Palate Nurser (MJCPN).

*One latex surgical glove washed of talc powder on the outside and inside. Vinyl gloves do not stretch enough.
* One nipple ring
* One Mead Johnson Cleft Palate Nurser.

This is what we used to feed our baby for pre-op. The real key here is that it is squeezable.

Construction Process:

Take scissors and cut the finger of the latex glove off at the base of the finger. The finger you cut depends on the size of the glove. With small gloves I use the second finger. With large gloves I use the pinky. Snip a tiny slit in the tip of the finger.

Take scissors and cut the top of the nipple off close to the ridge that snaps into the nipple ring. Discard the nipple top. You will be left with only the nipple base. There needs to be enough of a ridge left to snap into the nipple ring. Anything over that is excess that may or may not interfere with the feeding depending on length.

Stretch the base of the latex pinky finger over the nipple base so that the latex overlaps to the under side of the nipple base. This is important to get an air tight seal on the bottle. This can be difficult for some people to do. You have to find a technique that works for you. I hold it open with two fingers of one and and insert the base with the other. You will find out if your nipple base is firm enough on this process. Some nipple bases will fold in under the pressure of the latex finger. Some warping will be straightened out by screwing the nipple onto the bottle. The finished nipple should look much like a normal nipple but of course it will be extremely collapsible.

Snap the newly made latex nipple into the nipple ring. It will be more difficult than a normal nipple to insert because you can't pull on the tip of the nipple to pull it through. If there is a problem try pulling the rim of the nipple base from below toward the center to get it to snap in.

You now have an Ethan Nipple ready to go on a squeezable bottle.

Instructions on Use:

Practice getting the right squeeze amount by just squirting water out of the nipple. Practice getting the right size slit in the nipple. You may even want 2 slits. Different size holes will require differing squeeze amounts.

Some times the milk stream will go in one direction. I try to angle this toward the tongue. This avoids spraying the roof of the mouth with the milk and possibly creating an unpleasant sensation or coating the sutures with milk that makes cleaning even tougher.

Place just the tip of the nipple in the babies mouth. You can experiment with how far you can go. Generally you lose less milk by placing it slightly further inside the babies mouth. There is very little to no suction created in the babies mouth using the tip. I would not recommend putting the whole nipple in the mouth and I have not tried it due to the fact that I'm afraid that would create too much suction might harm his sutures. If suction is being created you can either move it further out or move it to the side of the mouth.

Squeeze as you would with the MJCPN. We used constant pressure with our baby and he was used to that. I would imagine that some parents try to squeeze with the babies suck.

Authors Note: We are currently feeding Ethan in his car seat because the cradle feeding position is currently ruined for him.

Other Hints:

I suggest trying this nipple and/or cup feeding with your baby BEFORE surgery to get them used to it. Feed them once a week, once a day, or whatever it takes to get them use to a post-op method of feeding. When Ethan was just 5 days old we had no problems cup feeding him. We moved on the MJCPN because it was much easier and dropped cup feeding all together. Lucinda tried to get Ethan used to the cup for a month and a half before the surgery without success. We paid dearly for that, but something good did come out of it - the Ethan Post Op Nipple! I only hope it helps someone else and can save them the pain we went through.

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