Choosing the right bottle for your baby
While there is no doubt that breastmilk is the best for your baby, a bottle is an important accessory to long term breastfeeding success. Whether you are pumping your own breast milk or feeding your baby formula, a bottle becomes a necessary baby care product to have.
The most important aspects involved while choosing a bottle are:
- Your baby should take a liking to it
- Breastfed babies have low colic. Incorrect air passage can create colic. Proper passage of air through anti-colic system is a must
- It is easy to clean, maintain and assemble; cleaning and maintenance with a newborn in tow can become a cumbersome chore. A new mum’s comfort is, therefore, of equal importance. Bottles with disposable liners and quick sterilizing solutions are important to take in to account when you are short of time.
Choosing glass bottles
- With proper attention, they are more durable and safe
- They do no leach chemicals and can be used long term
- Glass is the safest and its clarity can be an added bonus for clear scale reading
- They are chemically inert in dishwasher and microwave.
- They can be hazardous when around a baby because they break, even with the silicone sleeve on
- Glass bottles are heavier than plastic so with added weight of milk, they become difficult for a baby to handle
- High maintenance involves checking for chipping at each wash. In case you choose glass, always ensure that you or any other responsible person is present when feeding the baby.
Choosing plastic bottles
- Lightweight, affordable and strong
- Plastic bottles do not break but can leach harmful chemicals like BPA. Lookout for BPA, BPS and phthalate safe bottles and replace them every few months
- Choose plastic bottles with recyclable markings 2, 4, 5, 7 which are bio based plastics like polylactic acid. These are lightweight, recyclable and low energy consumption bottles.
- Dishwasher and microwave increase leaching in the plastic bottles
- Glass bottles are more ecologically friendly as compared to plastic bottles
Choosing disposable bottles
- Disposable liners are convenient as they need no cleaning
- Convenient to use when traveling
- The liners are plastic as well and prone to leaching
- Difficult to pump and store breastmilk especially on the go
- They prove to be expensive in the long run
Practical tips to choosing a bottle
- For a start choose 150ml bottles for your newborn. If it is meets all the above criteria, you can move on to 250ml as your baby’s appetite increases
- Choose the bottles of the same brand as your breast pump so you can express milk straight into it. Storing, heating and feeding in the same bottle reduces handling and chance of infection to the newborn
- Bottles with wide necks are easier to clean
- Choose a bottle with anti-colic system
- Clear measurement markings are always a plus as they will let you know exactly how much milk you are feeding the baby
- Look out for the bottles that can turn into sippers as your baby grows. Familiarity enhances comfort level in babies. Easy transition from bottles to sippers makes weaning easier
Choosing the bottle nippes
Babies can be picky about nipples. Your success therefore depends on correct nipple. There is a wide variety available in the market. However, your choice may be limited by the choice of the bottle since the two often come as a package. In any case, it is a good idea to opt for a combination of the same brand since that will ensure a better fit ruling out leakage. All brands have air passage channels and ridges on bottles and teat that match each other and create an optimal anti-colic system which gets mismatched when you pair nipple and bottle of different brand.
- Choose nipples that are designed and function closest to a mother's nipple. A baby follows natural suckling rhythm when breastfeeding. A nipple based on these principles will reduce chances of nipple confusion
- Naturally-shaped nipples have a broader, thicker base. These are good when the baby is making the transition from breast to bottle because they mimic the shape of the breast better. Broad base nipples with strong, wide base are successful for good latch with no liquid dribbling from the sides
- All nipples come with an indicator guide. Take the guide as a rough estimate. Each baby is different. Observe the baby carefully when you try out a new nipple as a too slow nipple will make the baby struggle hard while a faster flow can be a choking hazard
- Always start with a slower flow as when combining breastfeeding with bottle as breastmilk comes slowly
- Vented nipples with anti-colic system make better choice as they reduce the discomfort of unwanted gas and colic. Through the vents, they provide better circulation of air, prevent formation of vacuum and teat collapse making the milk flow easier.
Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.