Picking the Best Newborn Baby Bottle
When visiting the baby gear store, it's easy to be boggled by all the options in the feeding supply aisle. Most parents-to-be find themselves asking lots of questions: What are the best bottles for newborns? Should you look for any specific features or shapes? Do experts recommend plastic, glass, or silicone? Don't worry—we've got you covered. Keep reading for advice from real moms and experts about picking newborn baby bottles.
Newborn Bottle Features to Know
Before heading to the store, it helps to understand the types of bottles available for babies. Here are some key differences to recognize.
Nipples come in levels for different flow rates; the slowest nipples are made for newborns, and they're usually level one. Replace nipples as Baby is ready for the next size—usually if they're sucking fiercely or appearing frustrated when feeding. (You might need a smaller nipple size if there's too much milk flow). Also replace nipples whenever they're cracked, discolored, or thinning.
Parents can also choose the material of the nipple: Silicone is firm and durable; latex is softer and doesn't last as long. Note that some babies are allergic to latex.
Some bottles are straight, while others are angled (which prevents Baby from swallowing air) or wide (which mimics breastfeeding to reduce nipple confusion). A bottle with a broader neck is easier to clean.
Baby bottles come in many different materials, including plastic, glass, silicone, and stainless steel. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Plastic: While plastic bottles are shatterproof and lightweight, they need to be replaced more often than other types. Plastic bottles are generally considered safe nowadays, though older secondhand versions may contain bisphenol A (BPA), which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned in baby bottles. That said, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says we can't be absolutely sure about the health and safety of plastics for children, especially when they're heated in the microwave or dishwasher.
Glass: Some parents love glass bottles for their durability, but they're also heavier, more expensive, and breakable. You can buy silicone sleeves that might prevent the glass bottle from shattering if dropped.
Silicone: Food-grade silicone bottles are lightweight, flexible, and made without BPA. They tend to be harder to find and pricier than other options.
Stainless Steel: Although these bottles are durable and don't contain any toxins, they come with a hefty price tag. As another downside, you can't see inside of a stainless steel bottle, so it's harder to know how much milk Baby consumed.
Disposable Liners: Some bottles work with sterilized plastic liners that you throw away after every use. Disposable bottle liners make for easy clean-up, but they're costly and not environmentally friendly.
You can generally find baby bottles in smaller sizes (about 4-5 ounces) and larger sizes (about 8-10 ounces). Newborns take in only a couple of ounces at a time, but babies ramp up their eating quickly, so going straight for the bigger bottles could save you money in the long run.
Bottles with special venting features can limit the amount of air Baby takes in. This might reduce gas and spit-up—which, in turn, can help eliminate fussiness. Venting bottles might be especially useful for babies with colic.
How Do I Pick a Newborn Bottle?
"You won't know what your child will like until he tries it," says Hollie Schultz, mother of three and founder of BabyGizmo.com, a product-review site. She recommends polling your parent friends to get three suggestions. Then "buy one of each and do your own testing when your baby arrives," Schultz says. Here are some more tips for choosing the best baby bottles for newborns.
Go for bigger bottles or choose ones with added features. Buying bigger bottles off the bat could save money, since you can use these down the road too. Can't resist registering for a starter set? "It's best to purchase bottles with features that minimize air bubbles, such as drop-in inserts, vents, or an angled top, because you may have to buy these later anyway if Baby turns out to be gassy," says Jennifer Shu, M.D., a pediatrician in Atlanta and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn.
Think ahead if you're planning to pump. Here's an insider's secret for moms who plan to pump: Buy bottles that are the same brand as your breast pump. "That way, you can express your milk directly into the bottle you'll use later," says Holly Hosler, mom of an 11-month old in Baltimore. One less thing to wash!
- RELATED: How to Bottle Feed a Baby
Invest in new bottles for every child. If this is your second (or third or fourth) child, it's best to invest in new bottles for them, says Erika Landau, M.D., a pediatrician in New York City and coauthor of The Essential Guide to Baby's First Year. The older, used ones might not meet current safety or environmental standards—for example, some older plastic bottles may contain BPA. And always buy new nipples!
Does My Baby Need a Different Bottle?
If your baby is fussy during feedings, you might wonder if they need different types of bottles. It's definitely possible—but there are other issues to troubleshoot first. If your sweet pea looks as if they're sucking fiercely (the nipple may even invert) and they're becoming frustrated, you may need to bump up to the next nipple level, which will allow milk to flow faster, Dr. Landau says. On the other hand, if there's so much milk flowing from the bottle that it's pouring out of your baby's mouth, "they might need a nipple with a smaller hole."
Gas is another reason babies fuss, Dr. Landau says. To reduce it, hold your baby so their head is higher than their tummy, and ensure the nipple is always filled with milk. Loud sucking could indicate that they're taking in too much air, but it could just mean they're a loud mouth! In any case, stop after four or five minutes to burp them.
- RELATED: When Do Babies Hold Their Bottle?
Another possibility? Your baby doesn't like whatever's in their bottle. Perhaps your pumped milk is strongly flavored by something you've eaten (garlic or onions?), or they aren't digging the formula you've selected. Consider that they're simply not hungry or they need a diaper change.
If you've checked into each of these scenarios and Baby still fusses at most feedings, go ahead and try another kind of bottle.
Preparing a Newborn Bottle for Feeding
You found a newborn bottle that works for your baby—congrats! Now it's time to clean it before the first feeding. "Sterilize new parts and nipples in boiling water for five minutes before the first use," Dr. Landau says. After that, a thorough wash in hot, soapy water is fine. Be sure you get into all the little nooks with a detail brush. Cleaning bottles in the dishwasher works too. Then let the bottles and all their components air-dry thoroughly. (A bottle-drying rack is helpful.) If you must store parts before you're sure they're completely dry, wipe with a soft cloth or paper towel first.