When it comes to choosing a bottle for your baby – either to feed them breast milk or formula – you’ll want to find one that is as close to perfect as possible, so that the transition to bottle-feeding can be a stress-free experience for both of you. We’ve highlighted what to consider and some of our favourite bottles on offer, to help you make a decision quickly and easily. Ready to buy some bottles? Let’s go!
Obviously, one of the first things you’ll want to consider when choosing a bottle is whether the size is right for your baby right now. Size and flow are usually related, so the smaller the bottle, the slower the flow. Newborns generally need the smallest size and the slowest flow – once babies can suck more easily and need to drink more, they will graduate to bigger sizes.
Shape and design
There are two main choices here: straight necks and angle necks. Straight neck bottles are the traditional choice, but angled bottles allow the teat of the bottle to remain filled with liquid and free of air bubbles, which is helpful as it minimises how much air can be gulped in with the milk. Taking in too much air while feeding is one possible cause of colic. They are also thought to help with holding the baby’s head in an upright position – which may prevent ear infections. Unfortunately, anti-colic bottles aren’t guaranteed to reduce the symptoms of colic in all babies, and they can be tricky to keep clean.
When it comes to what the bottle is made from, your choices are simple: plastic, glass and stainless steel.
- Plastic is obviously unbreakable but it will deteriorate from being used so often.
- Although glass baby bottles are made from heat-resistant, toughened glass, they can still break or get chipped and cracked. The biggest advantage of glass bottles is that breast milk can be safely stored in them – not the case for plastic bottles. Recent research found that a chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) can leach into baby food when plastic bottles with milk residue are heated at boiling temperatures for 20 to 30 minutes. It’s really important to look for bottles that are BPA free if you choose plastic bottles. Disposable bottles are a short-term solution if you’re travelling – they are ready-sterilised and come with a teat and a lid, so they’re very convenient.
- Stainless steel bottles are not very common, but they are lightweight and unbreakable, and guaranteed to be non-leaching and free from BPA, pthalate, lead and toxins.
What makes a perfect teat? Good question! In general, experts agree that a good amount of flow and less air are the key points to look out for.
- Each baby is different, of course, and you can choose the speed of the flow – slow, fast, medium and variable – to make your baby’s drinking easy. It’s generally a good idea to start with slow flow for newborns, then switch to medium flow and only graduate to fast flow when you know your baby can suck fast enough. If you find your baby choking, spluttering, or if you see milk leaking from their mouth, it’s a sign that the flow of the bottle is too fast.
- You can choose a standard teat shape or a natural one (which mimics the shape of nipple to make the transition from breast to bottle easier).
- Another consideration is what material the teat is made from: silicone is generally thought to be better than latex because it lasts longer and it is safer, but it is a little less flexible.
When buying a bottle, it’s a good idea to get all the necessary accessories that help with cleaning, storing and carrying them. You’ll need to sterilise the bottles regularly – either with a microwave or an electric steam steriliser. Electric steam sterilisers can hold up to six bottles at a time and sterilise all of them in under ten minutes. Sterilising in the microwave involves putting the bottles in a simple container that you put in the microwave.
Our Favourite Brands and Producta
Now that you know what features to consider in a bottle, here are some of our top picks.
Avent BPA-free Bottles
These BPA-free bottles come in three sizes – 125ml, 260ml and 330ml – and five different flow rates. The naturally-shaped teat means your baby can control milk flow in a similar way to breastfeeding, which makes it easier for you to combine breast and bottle. And the unique skirt on the Avent teat allows air into the bottle, which prevents any vacuum build-up. Choose from: Newborn/0M +1 hole, Slow Flow/1m+ 2 holes, Medium Flow/3M + 3 holes, Fast Flow/ 6m+ 4 holes, Variable Flow/3M+.
We love it because: The five flow rates mean your baby can grow with the same kind of bottle.
Goes well with: Avent sealing discs. These discs make it easy to store excess milk. Avent also has compatible microwave and steam sterilisers: their 3-in-1 electric steam steriliser has a speedy six-minute cycle with automatic shut-off and natural steam sterilisation that kills 99.9% of harmful germs.
Tommee Tippee Easi-Vent and Vented Bottles
If you’re looking for a bottle that encourages a natural feeding action, then the Easi-Vent is the bottle for you. Its unique latch-on teat shape and super sensitive valve simulate the nipple for babies used to breastfeeding. The Vented Bottle has a special heat-sensing tube and superb venting, which means a smoother flow of milk at the ideal temperature for your baby. Choose from: 150 ml, 260ml or 340 ml, plain and decorated.
We love it because: Their inventive bottles are the perfect fit for many babies.
Goes well with: Tommee Tippee milk storage lids for storage, their electronic and microwave sterilisers, electric bottle warmer, bottle brush and insulated bottle carrier – everything you need!
Dr Brown's Anti-Colic Bottles
If you have a colicky baby, you’ll know how important an anti-colic bottle can be. Dr Brown’s is the ultimate anti-colic bottle, with a patented two-piece internal vent system that enables vacuum-free feeding. What does that mean? A positive pressure flow of milk that is similar to breastfeeding. Air never mixes with the milk, which helps to preserve essential nutrients like Vitamins A, C and E. Dr Brown's also offers Natural Flow Standard Bottles with a traditional, narrow shape, and Dr Brown's Natural Flow Wide Neck Bottles with an ergonomic design that's easy to fill and hold. All teats from Dr Brown’s are BPA-free and made of super-soft, high-grade silicone, each with a different flow rate.
We love it because: It’s the best anti-colic bottle on the market – as tested by Moms!
Yoomi Self-Warming Bottle
You might think a self-warming bottle sounds like something from the future, but lucky for parents on the go, the future is here! This premium bottle with anti-colic vents, a natural teat and a wide-neck offers a unique warmer feature. Yoomi is the first self-warming baby bottle that gently warms your baby's feed to the natural temperature of breast milk in just 60 seconds... BPA-free and available in 140ml and 240ml sizes, with both slow and medium teats
We love it because: It gives parents one less thing to think about – and don’t we all need that?
Buy it with: Their very own microwave recharge pod for warmer.
Green Kid Stainless Steel Baby Bottle
One of the only stainless steel options on the market, Green Kid is made from 100% 18/8 stainless steel, and guaranteed to be non-leaching and free from BPA, pthalate, lead and toxins. They are also lightweight and unbreakable, and available in a handy 300ml size.
We love it because: It’s stainless steel, which means your baby will be a guaranteed hipster.