How to Choose Baby Bottles

DSCF7331 (544x800)The bottle you choose for your baby can really affect how well bottle feeding experience goes, but, unfortunately no guide can tell you which bottle to pick. A bottle that works great for one baby, may not for another.  Generally, your baby will have more say in which bottle you chose than you do, so when first beginning bottle feeding, you may want to buy a few different types of bottles and experiment. I may not be able to tell you exactly how to choose a baby bottle, but I can explain the various options available.

Note: Due to length this guide will be broken into parts. You can read part one, detailing when and how much to bottle feed here.

A typical bottle consists of two parts, a base and a nipple.

Baby Bottle Bases:

For the bottle base, there are two primary material choices, glass or plastic, but the shape of the bottle itself can vary greatly by brand. Overall, you’ll see four main types in either material.

baby bottle shapes

Straight bottles:

This is your typical baby bottle. Straight bottles are said to be easiest for babies to hold. Straight bottles may also come in a slightly hourglass shape, where the middle is narrower for little hands.

Bent Bottles:

These bottles have an angle to them. The bend in the bottle is meant to reduce the amount of air your baby ends up sucking in by keeping the milk at the top of the bottle.

Disposable Liner Bottles:

These bottles are actually a shell which holds a plastic insert in which milk is placed. The insert is disposed of after use.

Round Bottles:

Round bottles are relatively new and not very common. The base is usually oval in shape with a flat bottom so the bottle can be set down. Much like bent bottles this is an effort to reduce the air your baby gets while feeding.

Glass versus Plastic:

Plastic bottles are basically impossible for a baby to break and often slightly lighter weight while being less expensive. However, plastic bottles do eventually begin to deteriorate and will need to be replaced. Plastic bottles that do not say “BPA free” may leak bisphenol-A into milk if boiled. A baby’s bottle should NEVER be brought to the boiling point.

Glass bottles will never need to be replaced unless broken, chipped, or cracked, but they are also more expensive and heavier than plastic bottles.

Baby Bottle Nipples:

Bottle nipples typically come in three materials: plastic, silicone, and latex. Rubber and silicone nipples both are firmer and will last longer, while latex is softer, more malleable, and may wear out a bit quicker.

In addition to material there are also varies nipple shapes, sizes, and flow rates.

Nipple Shapes:

Traditional: Is your standard nipple.

Orthodontic: Produced by companies such as Nuk, these nipples are designed to fit the shape of your child’s palate.

Nipple Sizes and Flow Rates:

Nipples come in varying sizes based on the bottle type. Typically wider nipples are better for breast fed babies or babies that are being switched between bottle and breast as the wider nipple is closer to the feel of a breast, but some babies prefer the narrower nipples anyway. You can also find bottles with varying nipple length. Some feel a long nipple a nice alternative to the wide-style for breast-fed babies.

baby bottle flow rate

Flow rate is determined by age, though some babies drink faster or slower than their age determined nipple. When buying a bottle it should indicate a flow rate and age range. Flow rate is determined by the size and number of holes in the nipple.

Once you have your bottle it needs to be prepared for use and filled, check back soon for part three of this guide covering just that.


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