woman bottle feeds baby
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Choosing a bottle for baby

Whether you are breastfeeding and looking to add the occasional bottle feed or exclusively feed your baby by bottle, there are so many choices out there! It can feel overwhelming to know where to start, but rest assured, we’ve got you covered.

Nipples

In general, the starting point for bottles is actually the nipple shape. Most experts agree that sticking with a long, skinny nipple (with no bulb at the tip) and a gradual slope to the base is the best place to start. This shape mimics what happens to a breast inside the mouth and maximizes oral motor function. A bottle nipple that looks a lot like your breast actually isn’t an ideal shape because of how much human nipples change in a baby’s mouth during feeds. Will this be true for every baby? No, but it does narrow down the first ones you’ll try. If you want examples of what this looks like, take a peek at Dr. Brown’s, Lansinoh and Pigeon brands. No specific brand is “best,” but this will give you an idea of what to look for in any brand of bottle and nipple.

Most nipples are made of silicone, but latex is also available. Latex and repeated exposure to it can make a latex allergy more likely, so silicone is generally the go-to for nipple material. 

Latch

For your baby to safely and effectively remove milk, they need to be able to latch on to the nipple you’ve chosen. If you notice their jaw chomping up and down, their cheeks sucked in, or lots of milk leaking from the corners of their mouth – something is up! A poor latch can mean your baby will tire out before taking the milk they need. This may make the baby feel upset during feedings. 

Some nipple shapes may make it difficult for the baby to latch properly, and could even alter the latch on the breast when switching between breast and bottle feeding.

Bottles

At first, your baby’s feedings will be really small! Using a 4, 6 or 8-ounce bottle for 1-2 ounces of milk or formula may feel strange. Over time, breastfed babies may never need more than a 4-ounce bottle size. Formula feeding needs will definitely creep up towards 8 ounces. It helps to get a variety of bottle sizes to start.

The biggest question for most people is the bottle’s material, whether glass or plastic. Here are some pros and cons to consider:

  • Glass bottles are heavier for you and baby to hold 
  • Glass can be more expensive
  • Paint on the outside of glass bottles must be lead-free
  • Fewer companies make glass bottles, so there are fewer options to choose from
  • Plastic may release microplastics, even when BPA-free
  • Plastic will wear out faster compared to glass bottles 

If you’re going with glass, you can get creative! Some companies make nipples for mason jars. There are lots of silicone sleeve options available to make the bottle safer from throwing, breaking, and warm temperatures.

Happy and Fed

At the end of the day, there is no perfect bottle for every baby, and no need to fix what isn’t broken. That’s why you’ll see so many bottles and nipple shapes out there! It’s okay to need some trial and error to find “the one,” but hopefully, you’ll hit a home run with your very first choice. 

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