Do you ever feel confused by the variety of bottles (and brands) available in the market? Anti-colic, anti-reflux, anti-choking ... what are they and what's their difference?
Here, we will break down some of the most asked questions. Most importantly, we will list out what are the vital criteria to look for when choosing the best baby bottle for your little one.
Features to Look At
There are many different aspects to consider when you're buying your baby's bottle. Some babies take to a particular type of nipple or bottle while others outrightly refuse a different brand.
Before you even choose a bottle, there are 4 important criteria that you should look at. Get them right and it may just make your job of finding the right one for your baby so much easier.
While different brands can have different design for their bottles, they generally do not divert too much from the following 5 types:
Standard bottles: These are your traditional baby bottles. They work well for most babies and come in a variety of materials (see next criterion).
Angled-neck bottles: These have a bent neck which is meant to prevent air from filling the nipple. They are more suitable for gassy babies and make feeding easier but the angled part may be difficult to clean.
Disposable liners bottles: Similar to angled-necks in that it is aimed to reduce gassiness but this is done via a plastic insert (that holds an individual pouch of milk) which will collapse when baby drinks. Convenient and hygienic in that you use and toss each bag but not exactly eco-friendly.
Wide-neck bottles: These are short and squat and have a wide opening, which naturally means a wider nipple too and they are to echo the breastfeeding experience. Ideal for babies transitioning from the breast to bottle and is also easy to clean due to the wide opening.
Vented bottles: Another type that is meant to help prevent gas, these ones include a built-in tube to prevent air pockets from forming in the bottle or nipple. Effective but the vents and other extra parts can be harder to clean.
Plastic may be the most common material found in baby bottles, but there are actually other materials such as glass, silicone and stainless steel which are gaining increasing traction in recent years.
The third criterion to look at will be the nipples. Choosing the correct nipple is actually more important than you think - it prevents numerous conditions and risks such as:
Most bottles offer a variety of nipple sizes, which are actually defined by their flow (i.e. how fast or slow the milk comes out) and this is controlled by the size of the hole in the nipple.
Stage 1: Also known as slow-flow, this is meant for newborns (including preemies) up to 3 months as drinking too fast may result in choking or overeating.
Stage 2: As babies grow older, they can suck more effectively and are able to handle quicker and larger flow of milk. This is when you can switch them to Stage 2 (medium-flow), when they are around 3-6/ 6-12 months.
Stage 3: Most babies actually stay at Stage 2 indefinitely and move straight to sippy cups but if you notice your baby seems to be pulling hard on Stage 2 nipples, then it is advisable that you move to Stage 3 - the fast flow nipples.
These stages/sizes are usually marked on the rim, along with baby’s recommended size and age range for each stage. Don't worry too much about them though, use these markings as guidelines only adjust accordingly to your baby's growth and situation.
You should also know that nipples generally come in either latex or silicone varieties. The former are softer and more flexible but they don't last as long (some babies may be allergic to them) while silicone ones are firmer and are able to hold their shape better (and longer).
D. Bottle Size
Last but not least, you should look at bottle size. With this, just remember one formula: small --> big.
The reasoning behind this is very simple - newborns do not need as much milk as older babies. Most newborns drink up to 4 ounces in a single feeding, so smaller bottles are a great fit (also easier to hold).
As babies grow, you will need bigger (8 ounces or larger) bottles as they drink more now, but at less frequent feedings.
You can certainly buy smaller capacity bottles first, then purchase the bigger ones later.
Or, if you want to be more economical, you can select bottles with larger fluid capacity, then adjust the flow by changing the nipple size accordingly (see above). This way, you don't need to change the entire bottle - certainly a wiser option financially.
What Price Range Are We Looking At
For once, price isn't the deciding factor when it comes to baby bottles.
You see, unlike other baby products, the price of baby bottles does not vary much among different brands. For example, see this starter set and this of a similar nature - the difference is less than a dollar only.
In general, we are looking at:
Traditional glass / plastic bottles
$4 - $10 per piece
$13 - $17 per piece
$13 - $20 per piece
Starter sets / gift sets
$30 - $90
So, pricing isn't something you need to consider when it comes to choosing the best baby bottle for your baby. Rather, it is the above mentioned criteria that should be given attention to when you're making your decision.
Why Choosing The Right Bottle is So Important
A straightforward answer to that is just so your little one will take the bottle, and be able to feed comfortably without any side effects.
Sounds pretty easy, isn't it? Until you've tried it yourself.
Let's take breastfeeding babies for example. Select the wrong nipple or bottle, your baby might reject the bottle altogether. Of course, there are those who will take any bottle with a smile and if this is your little one, lucky you!
The flip side of the coin, and what's worse, is that the wrong bottle or nipple may cause nipple confusion, resulting to baby rejecting both the bottle and breast, and that, is every mother's nightmare.
"Which is why when it comes to breastfed babies, you have to be extra careful when selecting your bottles. "
So much so, there are specific bottles dedicated to breastfed babies that are designed to closely mimic the feel of nursing to make it easier to transition a breastfed baby to a bottle,.
Another reason as to why it is so important that you choose the right baby bottle for your little one is to avoid gas, colic or spit-ups and that, applies to all babies regardless they are breastfed or not.
There are certainly babies who do not suffer from any of these side effects but then again, there are those whose colicky or gassy issues can only be resolved by using certain bottles.
It can be overwhelming, we admit, especially if you are a first-time mother, what's with being presented with so many choices when it comes to baby bottle selection.
Our advice? Narrow your choices down to three or four different bottles to try out before you commit to a bunch of the same type of bottle, and see what works from there.
Different babies prefer different shapes, sizes and textures, and it can be hard to know which one will work for you until you actually use it. So start with perhaps 2 different brands of newborn starter sets, check reviews online or ask friends for recommendations.
Just know this: there is no one universal 'best baby bottle' that fits every baby. In other words, there is no straight/fool-proof formula for success when it comes to babies and bottles. It will be a trial and error process.