Baby bottles are an essential item for many new parents. Even mums who choose to breastfeed can find that they come in handy if they later want to express their milk for bottle feeding. The huge range of options for bottles can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s great to have the choice, but trying to decide which ones you should be buying is often a challenge. The options can be overwhelming, especially for first-time parents, and you could be getting conflicting recommendations from other people.
The truth is that there is no single best bottle that every parent or guardian should have. The best baby bottle is the one that suits both parent and baby, and that can be different for every family. When you’re first looking for the right bottles, it’s best to avoid stocking up on only one type. You could soon discover that the bottles you have chosen don’t work for you. Instead, try buying bottles in singles, rather than multipacks. You never know which bottles your baby will like best, so wait until you have a better idea before buying multiples.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to hold off on bottles at first. Mum and baby should have time to get used to breastfeeding before introducing a bottle. Nipple confusion can become a problem if a bottle is introduced, making it more difficult to continue breastfeeding.
When you’re ready to buy baby bottles, use this guide to help you find the best bottles for your needs.
Buying Baby Bottles: What You Should Look For?
Baby bottles might look pretty simple, but there are lots of factors in their design that can make a difference as to whether they work for a baby and their parents. So, what should you be looking for when you’re trying to find the right bottle for your little one?
Bottles can be made using a range of materials, including plastic, silicone and glass. You need to choose materials that are practical and safe, and that both you and your baby like. The main part of a bottle is usually made with either plastic or glass. When it comes to plastic baby bottles, you should look for BPA-free plastic to ensure safety. Plastic bottles are generally pretty durable, but it’s important to throw them out if they get scratched on the inside, as scratches can harbour bacteria. Glass bottles offer the advantage of remaining clear, whereas plastic can go cloudy over time, as well as being eco-friendly. As for the teat, you will generally have a choice between latex and silicone.
Ease of Use
You don’t want to have to waste time fumbling with bottles. Some of the things to look for are how easy the bottle is to clean, what it feels like to hold, and even how easily you can take the bottle apart and put it back together. Will preparing a bottle take you a long time? Is it fiddly to clean? Hygiene is important and you don’t want to have to spend hours cleaning out bottles.
Bottles come in a few different shapes, which can offer various benefits. As well as standard shaped bottles, you might find angled bottles, which are bent at the neck, or wide-neck bottles, which are broad and short. Each has its pros and cons. Standard bottles are easy to clean, but could cause problems with gassiness. Angled bottles can be given to babies when sitting up, but are tricky to clean. Wide-neck bottles are designed to mimic the breast and fit wider nipple sizes, while still being easy to clean.
This is a simple one - how much milk can you fit in one bottle? As your baby grows, you will find it’s more useful to have larger bottles with a capacity of around 250ml (8oz). Younger babies, under six months’ old, can be satisfied with a smaller bottle. There’s no point having larger bottles and making up more formula than you need when your baby is still small - you’ll have to throw out any leftovers.
If the teat isn’t right, your baby might not accept it. The shape and material can make a difference - it will feel and taste different depending on its makeup. They will usually be made from latex, a natural material, or silicone, an artificial material.
Some types of teats that you can find include:
- Traditional dome-shaped - larger teats shaped like a dome or bell
- Naturally shaped - these are designed to mimic the breast and make it easier for baby to feed
- Orthodontic - shaped with a bulb at the top that rests against the roof of the mouth, with the bottom resting on the tongue, these are supposed to be better for baby’s teeth
- Anti-vacuum/vented - featuring an air vent to lower the amount of air the baby takes in
- Variable flow - allows you to change the rate of flow to set the right speed (some babies may want to eat faster or slower) and to accommodate thicker liquids
Although you might exclusively breastfeed at first, you may soon want to express breastmilk for bottle feeding or supplement breastfeeding with formula. If you do this, you will want to avoid nipple confusion, when your baby might change their suckling habits. Choosing bottle teats that best mimic natural nipples can help with this issue.
Colic can be a nightmare for new parents, but one of the things that can help is choosing the right bottles. Some bottles are designed to help with colic by including features such as a vent or a straw-shaped part. These features help to make sure your baby is swallowing milk and not air, which helps to reduce gas and acid reflux.
Your budget is another factor to take into account. If you want to save money, standard bottles without any special features are generally more affordable. You’ll be paying more for things like glass bottles or anti-colic bottles. On the other hand, a well-made bottle may last longer and save you money long-term. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that as your baby grows, you might want to replace smaller bottles with larger ones. It’s also important to remember that teats may need to be replaced regularly too. Some brands recommend replacing them as often as every two months.
Types of Baby Bottles
Comparing the different types of baby bottles will help you to understand what’s out there and choose the right option for your baby. There’s a broad choice, but knowing what’s available makes it easier to choose.
Colic is the term used for when babies cry a lot without an obvious cause. Although it’s not clear why it happens, one problem might be the ingestion of air when your baby is feeding. Anti-colic bottles are designed to deal with this issue, reducing the air intake and helping your baby to get only milk instead.
Anti-colic bottles might have a couple of features. They can use vents, tubes or bags to cut down on airflow and help prevent your baby from swallowing air. It should reduce air bubbles in the nipple of the bottle and help your baby to digest their milk more easily.
Newborn bottles are smaller, making them ideal for smaller and more frequent feeds. You can save space by having bottles that are the right size. Plus, it’s easier to make up a bottle the right size and avoid wasting milk, as well as preventing overfeeding. Newborn bottles are generally about 4oz in size or 120ml.
When babies are born premature, preemie bottles can be useful. They’re even smaller than newborn bottles at around 2oz. Premature babies might also benefit from a bottle that offers a slower flow so they can eat more slowly. While preemies tend to need smaller quantities, they can also eat more overall, needing more frequent feeds.
1 Year + Bottles
For older babies who are growing into toddlers, larger bottles are available. They hold more milk, at around 8-9oz. These types of bottles are also sometimes shaped in a way to make it easier for babies to hold them. They might feature a handle that little hands can grab onto to encourage independent feeding.
Glass bottles offer an alternative to plastic. This might appeal if you want to take a more eco-friendly approach to raising your baby and are using items such as reusable nappies and wipes. Glass bottles are very durable and naturally BPA-free and they can be recycled, making them better for the environment. They also remain looking new and are more scratch-resistant than plastic, which can start to look murky after repeated uses. Look for bottles with strong borosilicate glass.
If you want to combine breastfeeding and expressing milk, breastfeeding bottles are ideal. They’re designed to mimic the natural shape of the breast so that they feel more natural and help to prevent nipple confusion.
How to Feed a Baby with a Bottle
It sometimes takes a little bit of time to get used to bottle feeding your baby, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. If you keep a few key things in mind, it will be a better experience for you and your baby. Feeding your baby is a great way to bond, whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding. A lot of breastfeeding parents also choose to bottle feed so that the non-breastfeeding parent can feed the baby too, and benefit from that bonding time.
Heating the milk up isn’t compulsory, but a lot of babies do prefer to have warm milk. You should use a bottle warmer or a saucepan or jug filled with hot water to warm up the bottle. Avoid using the microwave, as it can heat the milk unevenly and create hot spots, which might burn the baby’s mouth. It’s always important to check the temperature of the milk before you feed your baby to make sure that it’s warm but not hot.
Before you start feeding your baby, make yourself comfortable. Hold your baby somewhat upright and support their head. This will help them to feed and breathe comfortably without swallowing too much air. Start by gently brushing the teat of the bottle against baby’s lips and wait for them to open their mouth and draw in the teat.
When you’re feeding your baby, make sure to keep the teat full of milk so your baby doesn’t suck in air. Allow for short breaks during the feed to burp and wind baby. Hold them upright and gentle rub their back to help expel any air that they might have taken in during feeding. This helps to prevent problems with gas and spitting up.
When your baby is done, throw away any remaining formula or breastmilk. The NHS advice is that it should be drunk within one hour or else thrown away. If storing expressed breast milk, you can keep it in the fridge (at 4 degrees Celsius or lower) for up to 8 days, up to 2 weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge or up to 6 months in a freezer (at -18 degrees or lower). Formula should be made as you need it, but if you do make up some formula and keep it in the fridge, it needs to be used within 24 hours.
For more advice on bottle feeding and breastfeeding, ask a health professional such as your GP, midwife or health visitor. You can also get advice from the NHS website and other trustworthy medical resources.
There is no one perfect bottle for you and your baby. Every baby and every parent is different, so which bottle works will vary from one baby to the next. With an extensive range of options to choose from, the most important thing to do is try out what’s on offer and see which ones your baby likes best, as well as which ones you find easy to use.
Here at Click Health and Beauty, we have a large range of different bottles for you to explore so that you can find the right design for your baby. Take a look at our baby bottles here to see the various features and discover the possibilities.