Picking the right bottle for your newborn can be overwhelming, especially with the wide range of materials, sizes, and features available.
Ultimately, the bottle that is best for your baby depends on whether they will be solely bottle-fed, or breastfed and bottle-fed at the same time. Your main concerns should be that the bottle is safe, easy to use, and easy to maintain.
It may take time and patience to figure out which bottle works best for you and your baby, and you may need to try out a few different types before finding the right one. You can also ask your pediatrician for recommendations.
Here are a few features to consider when choosing a baby bottle.
What features to look for in a baby bottle
- Shape: While some bottles have straight, narrow necks, others have an incline with a wider neck. A slight bend in the bottle helps ensure that your baby doesn’t swallow as much air when feeding. Bottles with wider necks are also easier to clean.
- Plastic: Although shatterproof and lightweight, plastic bottles require more frequent replacement than other types. And while many newer models are BPA-free, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that the safety of plastics for children is uncertain, especially when heated in a microwave or dishwasher.
- Glass: Some parents prefer glass bottles because they are more durable. However, they are also heavier, more expensive, and can be broken. Silicone sleeves can be purchased to protect a glass bottle from shattering if dropped.
- Silicone: Silicone bottles are made of food-grade silicone and are lightweight, flexible, and BPA-free. However, they can be difficult to find and more expensive than other options.
- Stainless steel: Although stainless steel bottles are long-lasting and free of contaminants, they come at a high price. Another disadvantage is that you can't see inside the bottle, making it difficult to determine how much milk the baby consumed.
- Disposable liners: Bottles that have sterilized disposable plastic liners are convenient to use. But they can also be expensive and aren’t the most environmentally friendly choice.
- Vented: Bottles with venting can help your baby take in less air, which can reduce gassiness and fussiness. Venting bottles may be especially beneficial for newborns who have colic.
- Manufacturer: For moms who plan to pump, purchasing bottles from the same manufacturer as the breast pump can make things easier because milk can be expressed directly into the bottle.
What should be the size of a feeding bottle?
- Just born: 2 ounce or 60 mL
- Newborn: 4 ounce or 125 mL
- 1-6 months: 9 ounce or 260 mL
- 6 months and older: 11 ounce or 330 mL
How to choose the bottle nipples
In addition to the shape, material, and size of the baby bottle, it’s important to choose the right type of bottle nipple for your newborn.
Silicone is solid and long-lasting, but latex is softer and less long-lasting. It's also important to keep in mind that some babies are allergic to latex.
Bottle nipples come in several levels to accommodate various flow rates. Level one nipples are usually designed for newborns and intended to dispense milk slowly. The flow of the nipple increases with your baby's age, much like the capacity of the bottle. Nipples available in the market may come with an age indicator.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that each baby develops at their own pace and may need to change out nipple sizes at different rates. Signs that your baby may need a nipple change is if they are sucking ferociously or seem frustrated while feeding.
Why is my baby fussy when feeding?
If your baby is fussy during feedings, you may wonder if you need to change out the bottle. However, you may need to address other issues, such as gas, formula, or your baby’s condition.
Gas is one reason why babies cry while feeding, often caused by feeding in the wrong position if the baby is inhaling too much air. In other cases, the milk or formula may not agree with your baby. And sometimes, your baby may just not be hungry or simply needs a diaper change.
If your baby continues to cry during feeding despite changing bottles, positions, or formulas, consult your pediatrician to rule out other illnesses.
How to care for your baby bottles
Before use, both the bottle and nipple should be cleaned and sterilized in hot water for 5 minutes. You can use a detailed brush to dig into all the nooks and crannies or run them through the dishwasher. After washing, bottles should be left to air dry completely.
Nipples and bottles should also be replaced if they're damaged, discolored, or thinning.
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Fewtrell, M.S., et al. "Infant feeding bottle design, growth and behaviour: results from a randomised trial." BMC research notes vol. 5 150. 16 Mar. 2012, doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-150 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3328286/>.
Kotowski, Judith, et al. "Bottle-feeding an Infant Feeding Modality: An Integrative Literature Review." Maternal & Child Nutrition16.2 April 2020. <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/mcn.12939>.
Kreitschmann, M., Epping, L.C., Hohoff, A., et al. "Sucking behaviour using feeding teats with and without an anticolic system: a randomized controlled clinical trial." BMC Pediatr 18, 115 (2018). <https://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-018-1092-0>.
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