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Whether you’re a parent who wants to supplement breastfeeding with an occasional bottle or one who exclusively uses formula, baby bottles are an essential. Gone, however, are the days when there was one type of bottle and nipple. Today, you’ll find many different styles of bottles and nipples and even bottle systems. It can be overwhelming, especially for new parents. How do you find the bottle that’s right for your baby?
That’s where we come in. At BestReviews, we bring you honest, unbiased reviews. We never accept free samples from manufacturers. Any product we review is purchased off the shelves just like you do. We do the research, ask the experts, and survey real-life customers, too, so we can give you the facts you need to make informed shopping decisions.
If you’re ready to buy a baby bottle, take a look at the matrix above for our top five recommendations. For more on what to look for, including our expert’s tips, just keep reading.
Angled bottles have a bend somewhere along the neck. The location of the bend depends on the brand and make.
Many parents find it easier to hold this type of bottle. They are often recommended by pediatricians because they allow babies to be fed in a semi-upright position, which can help prevent ear infections.
Filling and mixing formula in an angled bottle can take some getting used to and may require a funnel.
Aimee is a pediatric occupational therapist practicing in the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric out-patient at Central Pennsylvania Rehab Services at the Heart of Lancaster Hospital. She has been working in pediatrics for 18 years and is also the owner/operator of Aimee’s Babies LLC, a child development company. Aimee has published 3 DVDs and 9 apps which have been featured on the Rachael Ray Show and iPhone Essentials Magazine. Also certified in newborn massage and instructing yoga to children with special needs, Aimee Ketchum lives in Lititz, PA with her husband and two daughters.
As their name suggests, wide neck bottles have a wider neck opening than standard bottles. The wide opening makes them easy to clean and mix formula in. This design also accommodates a wider nipple, which more naturally resembles a mother’s nipple. This is why wide neck bottles are often used for babies who are either transitioning from the breast to a bottle or who will be both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.
There are so many different kinds of baby bottles that it may require some trial and error to see what works best for your baby.
Vented bottles, sometimes called natural flow bottles, are specially designed to prevent air from getting trapped in the nipple where it can easily be swallowed by the baby. Swallowing air can cause painful gas that makes for an upset stomach. There are three kinds of venting systems to consider.
Top: Vent holes are located on the nipple, allowing air to pass through into the bottle. However, air bubbles in the milk can still enter your baby’s digestive system.
Straw: Slits in the nipple allow air to pass through a straw. Air does not mix with the milk and directly moves to the bottom of the bottle.
Bottom: A valve at the base of the bottle allows air to be drawn in as the baby sucks. The pressure created prevents any air from entering the formula.
Vented bottles tend to be harder to clean, particularly if they have a valve. There are more parts to take care of with each feeding. However, this is the type of bottle commonly used for colicky or gassy babies.
Vented bottles work well for babies who suffer from excess gas or are colicky. Don’t hesitate to try different types of vented bottles until you find one that works for your baby.
There are a few types of disposable bottles. Some are truly disposable after each feeding, while others use disposable bags/liners that fit inside a reusable bottle.
A disposable bottle comes in a sealed bag that keeps the bottle sterile until use. Once used, it must be thrown away.
Because of the waste they create this type of bottle should only be used while traveling or in emergencies.
A reusable bottle system — a bottle you can reuse with disposable liners — works well when traveling because you don’t have to clean the entire bottle. Simply throw the liner away and wash the nipple.
Bottle liners can save you time cleaning bottles, and some designs can also be used to store and freeze breast milk.
It’s important to know what kind of material your baby’s bottle is made from. Starting in 2012, baby bottles were no longer made of plastics containing BPA, so be sure any bottle you use was made after this date.
Glass: Glass bottles are durable, BPA-free, and last longer than plastic alternatives. Keeping them clean is also easy. However, they are heavy, more likely to shatter unless you also buy a protective silicone sleeve, and more expensive at the initial purchase.
Plastic: The benefits of plastic are many: lightweight, shatterproof, and inexpensive. But, while BPA was banned from baby bottles in 2012, many parents still worry about harmful chemicals leaking from plastic bottles. Plastic bottles also break down and must be regularly replaced.
Silicone: Bottles made of silicone can be hard to find, but they have no possibility of containing BPA, don’t break easily, and are lightweight.
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is the best option for durability. They last a long time, are lightweight, and do not contain BPA. Keep in mind that they are also expensive and can be hard to find when you need a replacement.
Baby bottles made of opaque plastic do not contain BPA. Recycle symbols 2 and 5 also indicate bottles that do not contain BPA.
The nipple design and material can be even more important than the body of the bottle. Babies can be notoriously picky about the type of nipple they will use. There are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing a bottle and the nipple that fits it.
Material: Nipples come in either latex or silicone. Latex nipples are rubber with a texture that resembles a mother’s nipple. Latex is inexpensive but does break down over time and will need to be replaced when it cracks or tears. Silicone nipples are firmer and more durable. However, their tougher texture doesn’t appeal to some babies as it doesn’t as closely resemble a human nipple.
Shape: Nipple shape plays a big part in a baby accepting a bottle. Standard nipples have a dome shape. Another option is an orthodontic nipple that’s specially designed to fit a baby’s palate and gums, with a bulb that rests against the roof of the mouth and a flat side that touches the tongue. Some babies have a preference for one or the other, while other babies are fine with either shape.
Design: Wide or flat-topped nipples have a wider base and feel more like a breast. For babies transitioning from breast to bottle or who switch between the two, a wide nipple is a good option.
Size and Flow: As a baby grows, sucking power and the amount of liquid he or she can swallow increases. Nipples come with varying degrees of flow. Newborns and young babies will require a small one-holed nipple, while a 10-month-old will need a larger three-holed nipple to accommodate a growing appetite. Be sure to get a nipple that fits the age of your child and watch for when it might be time for an upgrade.
Disposable: Disposable nipples come in a sealed bag, can be used once, and need to be thrown away after use. They are expensive but are convenient when traveling.
Some nipples have a fast or slow flow, and your baby may need the opposite of what you have.
Some bottles are stand-alone models, while others come as part of a system that may include a breast pump, sterilizer, milk storage containers, interchangeable bottles of all sizes, diaper bag, and nipples of varying grades. These systems can be expensive, but they ensure all your baby-feeding products work together.
Feeding a baby when you’ve had little to no sleep can be hard. Consider the time and effort it takes to maintain the bottle before purchasing. Bottles with wide openings are easier to make formula in, but if they don’t fit in the bottle holder of your diaper bag, that might not mean much. Think about how you plan to make and heat formula. If you plan to use a bottle warmer, an angled bottle won’t fit inside one. Whichever bottle you choose, be sure the benefits outweigh any potential drawbacks.
Do not warm bottles in the microwave, which can leave hot spots that could burn your baby’s mouth.
Unless you only plan to use bottles as an occasional replacement for breastfeeding, you’re going to be cleaning a lot of them. Narrow neck and angled bottles can be hard to clean. They may even require a special flexible bottle brush. The more parts the bottle has, the harder and more time-consuming it will be to clean. Some bottles can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Just keep in mind you’ll need enough bottles to keep feeding while the dishwasher gets full or runs.
Handles: Some bottles come with a plastic ring or silicone sleeve with handles. While newborns won’t use these, older babies who are ready to feed themselves might like something extra to hold onto.
Measurement Lines: Measuring out breast milk and formula is much easier in a bottle with measurement lines. It also helps you keep track of how much your baby is eating.
Nipple Cover: Nipple covers are plastic lids that snap over nipples when bottles aren’t in use. They are a nice feature when traveling to prevent nipples from becoming dirty or to help contain nipple leakage.
Regularly check your baby bottles for cracks, leaks, discolored areas, or other imperfections that suggest it’s time for them to be replaced.
Plastic bottles are the least expensive, starting at around $4 to $5 per bottle, though some designs can be as much as $12 per bottle. They can cost less, around $2, if bought as part of a package.
A single glass baby bottle can run anywhere from $3 if bought as part of a pack to $15 for a single bottle.
Silicone bottles start at around $10 and go up to around $15 a piece.
Disposable bottles often come in a six-pack for around $10, but some specially designed options can cost as much as $5 per bottle.
Some bottles will come with a nipple, while you’ll need to purchase nipples separately with others. Nipples come in packages of two to four nipples and range in price from $1 to $7.
Once you find a nipple and bottle your baby likes, buy more than one. You never know when you might lose or break your baby’s favorite bottle.
If you’re using a breast pump, it might be convenient to use a bottle that fits the pump.
If formula or breast milk comes out of the nipple in a steady stream, it’s time to replace the nipple. Liquid should drip out so as not to choke your baby.
Some bottles and parts can be cleaned in a dishwasher, while others should only be hand washed. It’s a good idea to invest in high-quality bottle brushes of different sizes to clean inside both the bottle and nipple.
Inspect nipples for tears and cracks. Once your baby gets teeth, he or she may chew off the end of the nipple, posing a choking hazard.
Q. What kind of bottle should I use for my colicky baby?
A. Sometimes colic can be caused by excess air getting in your baby’s tummy and causing gas. A good venting system that prevents air from entering the formula or breast milk can help. Bottom venting systems that use a valve work best for preventing excessive swallowing of air. Also, check the type of nipple you’re using. If you have a nipple with too much or little flow, your baby can end up gulping down air.
Q. I plan to exclusively use formula for my baby. How many bottles should I buy?
A. That depends on how often you plan to wash your bottles. You can get by with a minimum of two bottles: one for feeding and one that’s drying while you feed. But you’ll have to wash the bottle and nipple right after each use. Some parents prefer to have 10 or 12 bottles, so they have enough to use all day and then wash all at once in the evening. It also depends on whether you plan to hand wash the bottles or use the dishwasher. Most people don’t run their dishwasher more than once a day. If that’s the case, you’ll need enough bottles to feed your baby all day. The older your baby gets, the fewer bottles your baby will need. He or she will eat in larger quantities at once and will start eating solid foods.
Q. I’m breastfeeding, but I want to feed my baby a bottle now and then. What kind of bottle should I use?
A. Look for a bottle and nipple that feels as much like a breast as possible. Wide neck bottles, which also take wide nipples, feel more like a breast than other types. Latex nipples are softer than silicone and feel more natural.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.