Baby bottles are a definite registry must-have, but with so many options on the market, it can be hard to figure out where to start. And here’s the thing about bottles: everyone will have their favorites, baby included! Your little one might take to a particular type of bottle, and absolutely refuse to drink from anything else, or she may be open to trying a range of options. You won’t know until the baby arrives, so before committing to an entire set of a certain brand or style, it’s smart to sample a few and see which type’s baby prefers.
Baby Bottle Types
Many bottles are specifically designed to work in tandem with the breastfeeding experience, in their shape, nipple structure and the type of suction required to express milk. Others are formula-friendly, with built- in valves to prevent colic and gassiness.
Still confused? Here’s a breakdown of the various types of baby bottles, and how they compare.
– Standard Bottles: Simple and straightforward, these traditionally designed bottles are mommy-approved for most babies. Look for them in plastic, glass, or even stainless steel versions.
– Angle-Neck Bottles: Bent at the neck to prevent air from filling the nipple, which may make for easier feedings and a less gassy baby. The angled shape can make them harder to clean.
– Disposable Liner Bottles: A hard shell (usually plastic) that holds an individual pouch of milk. The bag collapses as baby drinks, which should reduce gassiness. Built for easy clean up , these are a convenient but hardly eco-friendly, option.
– Wide-Neck Bottles: Short and squat, these bottles have a wide opening up top which means a wider nipple, too, echoing the breastfeeding experience. Ideal for babies who will be going from breast to bottle frequently, a wide neck also makes clean up easy.
– Vented Bottles: These bottles include a built-in tube to prevent air pockets from forming in the bottle or nipple, which is meant to help prevent gas. Vents and other extra parts mean these can be harder to clean.
Baby Bottle Materials
Most baby bottles are made of plastic, glass, stainless steel or silicone and each type have its pros and cons. Which bottles are best for you will depend on your baby, your family’s lifestyle, and how to plan to use them.
– Plastic: Lightweight and inexpensive, plastic is the standard when it comes to baby bottles, especially since the FDA no longer permits the use of bisphenol A (BPA). But plastic is less durable than stainless steel or glass and should be carefully cleaned to prevent scratches. Replace these bottles every few months.
– Stainless Steel: Sleek, sturdy, and frequently insulated to keep milk at your baby’s preferred temperature, stainless steel bottles are favored by parents who want a longer-lasting option. They can be pricier than plastic or glass bottles, but rarely need replacing.
– Glass: Not your grandma’s glass bottles! Today’s glass bottles are heat and shock resistant and often come with silicone sleeves for an extra layer of protection. These don’t need to be replaced unless they chip or break.
– Silicone: Food grade silicone silky and smooth is a great, flexible material for both bottles and nipples. Like stainless steel bottles, though, silicone bottles can be expensive.
Baby bottles usually include nipples, but nipples can also be bought separately and come in a variety of shapes and types, which is especially helpful for babies with special feeding needs. Try a few different sizes and styles of the nipple to see what works best for your baby.
– Traditional Nipples: These are the bell-shaped, usually latex nipples that come with most baby bottles.
– Orthodontic Nipples: Designed to protect baby’s palate, these nipples have a bulbous top and flatter base.
– Flat-Topped Nipples: Shaped more like the breast, these have a bigger base bulb and a flatter top
– Anti-Vacuum Nipples: Designed to prevent colic and gassiness
– Multi-Flow Nipples: These are specially designed to be able to provide multiple stage flow (stage 1 and 2, for example) in the same nipple. Adjust the positioning of the nipple to control the flow.
– Disposable Nipples: Sterile, individually wrapped nipples that come in handy for easy clean up, but must be tossed after a single use.
Nipple Stages and Levels
Nipples for baby bottles come in stages, or levels, that are defined by their flow means how fast or slow the milk comes out, which is controlled by the size of the hole in the nipple.
Nipples will usually be marked with the stage or level right on the rim, along with baby’s recommended size and age range for each stage. Use these markings as guidelines, and watch your baby to checking when it’s time to adjust.
– Stage One Nipples: Newborns usually start with Stage One slow flow nipples, meant to slowly distribute milk as the baby’s mouth compresses.
– Stage Two Nipples: After a few months, babies usually move on to Stage Two (or higher) as they can handle a quicker and larger flow of milk.
– Stage Three Nipples: Some babies do just fine with Stage 2 nipples indefinitely, but by around 6 months, if your baby seems to be pulling hard on stage 2 nipples, she might be ready for the next stage.
Nipple flow determines how quickly and how much milk baby swallows in a single gulp, so keep an eye on whether your baby is not getting enough milk fast enough or is getting too much too fast.
Milk or formula should drip out of a nipple at a slow, steady pace. When milk starts pouring out of a nipple, or if a nipple shows signs of a lot of wear and tear, it’s time to toss it.
Generally, there are two types of material used for nipples latex and silicone.
– Latex: More traditional, latex has a soft, pliable feel to it, but needs to be replaced frequently as it deteriorates quickly. Also, some babies are allergic to it.
– Silicone: Food grade silicone nipples are firmer and more durable, and often have a silky feel to them. They are handy if the baby has allergies, and last longer than latex nipples, though they should also be replaced every few months.
Which Baby Bottle Size Do You Need?
In the beginning, smaller is better. Most newborns will drink up to four ounces in a single feeding, so the smaller, specially-sized bottles are a great fit, with a Stage 1 slow-flow nipple to control how fast milk is released.
As the baby grows, she’ll graduate to a bigger, faster-flow Stage 2 nipple, and the bigger 8-ounce (or larger) bottles, and drink more milk at less frequent feedings.
How Many Baby Bottles Do You Need?
Newborns eat frequently as much as every two to three hours in the early months and all that washing and sterilizing gets old fast, especially when you’re also on diaper duty and your little one only wants to nap on you.
So how many bottles should you actually buy? That depends on how you plan to use them.