Bottles 101: Choosing The Right One For Baby

A parent’s choice of bottles is seemingly endless. No longer just a receptacle for milk and a rubber nipple, today’s bottles are built for performance, whether you need a baby bottle that reduces colic symptoms and gas or one that stimulates natural breast feeding. Bottles wil be some of the most-used items in your baby’s first year, so it’s important that you find one that is safe, durable and doesn’t leak. In recent years, all the best bottles for babies are BPA free, which is another topic of discussion we’ll look at here.

Types of Baby Bottles

Standard bottles

These bottles can be straight or slightly curved on the sides and come in 4-5 ounce for infants or 8-9 ounce for older babies. You can choose between glass bottles or plastic bottles (including non-polycarbonate). Moms like that these bottles are easy to fill, hold and use. If you have a breast pump or bottle warmer, you won’t have a problem, as they are typically built for standard-sized bottles. One downside is that the valves and vents do not really minimize air intake while feeding, which could be a problem for gassy babies.

A popular standard baby bottle is Gerber’s First Essential Clear View BPA Free Plastic Nurser With Latex Nipple…

gerber bottle
  • One Wal-Mart reviewer found that this bottle was the “perfect size for pumping and storing.” She added that the small nipple size is “good for preemies” and that it is “simple, effective and affordable.” Many reviewers mention that these bottles don’t leak during transport or use. Even though it’s a cheap bottle, parents say they like it better than more expensive models by Evenflo or Playtex.

Angle-Neck Bottles

As the name implies, these bottles are easier to hold in a comfortable position due to the angled neck. Babies are less likely to swallow air, since the shape causes milk (rather than air) to collect at the nipple end. These bottles are also recommended for babies who develop a lot of ear infections, as the design helps babies feed while lying semi-upright. Special vents prevent bubbles from occurring. One downside is that it’s a little awkward to fill these baby bottles without a special funnel or holding them sideways.

A popular angled baby bottle is the Playtex VentAire Standard Bottle.playtex bottles

  • Amazon reviewers give this bottle 4.5/5 stars. Those who love it say these bottles are easy to take apart and clean, they are better than Gerber bottles with regard to air seepage, they are easier to hold, they don’t leak, and — for many — it’s just “the only bottle he will use.” Critics say their babies had trouble getting milk out of the bottles, but other parents warn that you may have to squeeze the nipple to make sure it’s opened fully before your baby tries to drink. The same seal that protects the bottle from leaking, may also give your baby trouble drinking the first time. Other people complained that stage one gives too little milk and stage two gives too much.

Wide Bottles 

Shorter and wider bottles with wider nipples are designed for babies who are used to breast feeding. Bottles come in 4,5,8 and 9 ounce sizes, in glass or plastic, with angled or straight sides, and with or without bottom venting. You may choose nipples that are slow, medium or fast flow. The only complaint about wide bottles is that they’re often more expensive.

A popular wide bottle is the Bornfree Bisphenol A Free Bottle.

bornfree bottle
  • At Consumer Search, these bottles are recommended because they do not contain BPA, they are specially vented to prevent colic, their valve system blocks leaks, the wide nipple mimics breast-feeding, and the wide bottle is easy to clean. These bottles are said to be easier to disassemble and clean than Dr. Brown’s, and come in a glass version as well. The only cons are that they are more expensive than comparable bottles and that leakage may occur if the valve is not inserted correctly.

Disposable-Liner Bottles 

Parents may choose a bottle with a disposable plastic pouch inside, which is designed to reduce air from collecting as the baby sucks and for easy cleanup as well. Moms like that they can just remove the liner, wash the nipple and that’s all the cleanup they need. On the other hand, you will need to keep purchasing liners, which adds to the price, and some mothers say the liners can be awkward to deal with, making them “not worth it.”

A popular disposable-liner bottle is the Playtex BPA Free Drop-Ins Premium Nurser.

playtex bottles
  • Consumer Search reviewers give this Playtex bottle props for being BPA Free, being convenient and easy-to-clean, for allowing easy breast milk storage for later use, and for easy transitions from breast to bottle. They add that the five-piece system for Bornfree bottles and the tube-vented Dr Browns bottle are more complicated to use than the Playtex version. There are many positive reviews for this bottle, even if it is more expensive and wasteful to deal with liners.

Natural-Flow Bottles 

This style of bottle comes with a patented two-piece internal straw-style vent system designed to reduce air bubbles, gas and colic. These bottles come in polycarbonate, polyethylene or glass. For parents of colicky babies, this system is a “must” because it is rather effective. On the downside, you will need to use a tiny bristle brush to clean out the straw.

Dr Browns Natural Flow is a top-recommended bottle for colicky babies.

dr browns
  • Consumer Search editors like the efficiency of the venting system and the variety of shapes and sizes available. There are over 500 positive reviews of this bottle on sites like Parenting.com and MomFinds.com. It should be noted that the Bornfree bottle is also designed to reduce colic, but is a bit easier to assemble and clean. Another con is that this particular bottle design is likely to leak if not held upright.

Premium Bottles 

Some bottles are more eye-catching and unique by design than others. Moms like that the nipple and bottle come as a unit, so there are fewer pieces to worry about or clean. The downside is that you will have to buy a new bottle for each stage, which could end up being somewhat expensive at $12.99 per bottle.

A preferred premium bottle is the Adiri Natural Nurser, which is also recommended for babies who are used to breast-feeding.

adiri natural nurser
  • According to Consumer Search, the Adiri Natural Nurser bottle is beloved for its stylish look, its BPA free materials and its natural breast-like shape designed to reduce confusion for breast-feeding babies. Reviewers say this is the  most natural type of baby bottle you’ll find. There is a little bit of a learning curve and you may encounter leaks at first, but the consensus is still that this is the only bottle that works for babies who prefer the breast.

Glass Bottles 

Most bottles are made of some type of plastic these days, but WebMD says some people prefer glass bottles because they are super durable and can feasibly last forever, not to mention they are made without any chemicals and can be deep-cleaned by boiling. Yet, they are heavier than plastic bottles and they may break if they are not adequately shielded.

Wee-Go makes a highly-reviewed glass bottle.

 wee-go bottle
  • Consumer Search editors like that this glass bottle can be converted into a sippy cup later on, that the glass is protected from breakage, that it is easy to clean, and that you can easily re-purposed when it is no longer needed for feeding. Some people use them as adult storage containers or to hold adult beverages. They also like the choice of colors for the silicone sleeves and that the bottles work with most breast pumps.  The only con is that these bottles are a bit heavier in your diaper bag.

What Is Bisphenol A?

As mentioned earlier, many parents are concerned about their babies coming into contact with a chemical called bisphenol a (or BPA). This industrial chemical is used to make polycarbonate plastics used to store food and beverages, such as water bottles, baby bottles, baby food jars and lids, and cups. However, recent research suggests that BPA can seep into food and beverages. More studies are needed to determine its effect on human health, since the results so far have been mixed. For instance, the American Chemistry Council says there are no health risks, but the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services and the FDA say there is “some concern about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of infants,” says the Mayo Clinic. The Washington Post reports that “more than 130 studies have linked BPA to breast cancer, obesity and other disorders” — including heart disease, diabetes, liver abnormalities and mood disorders. Bottles made with BPA should not be heated, boiled, microwaved or washed in a dishwasher, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Luckily, the six largest manufacturers of baby bottles have chosen to manufacture only BPA free bottles since 2009.

How To Choose A Baby Bottle

Ultimately, the best bottles for babies will depend upon your personal preference, your baby’s needs and your tolerance for cleaning. Most women include baby bottles with several different sizes and nipples in one set on their baby registries. The best prices on baby bottles can be found at stores like Wal-Mart and Target or e-retailers like Amazon.  Fussy babies that don’t take to their bottles well may do better at feeding time with slower or faster release nipples. Consumer Reports says that purchasing a bottle is not even the most complex part, as this is just a receptacle for milk or formula. Nipples are a whole other topic of discussion that we’ll go into next week. Until then, hopefully you are one step closer to finding the best baby bottle for your needs.

 

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