Whether you're pumping breast milk or feeding your baby formula, a baby bottle is essential. However, selecting one is no longer a simple or straightforward task. Nowadays baby bottles come in different styles, nipple designs, and materials -- not to mention disposable options. Fortunately, we've come up with this quick guide on all you need to know to make a well-informed purchase. We've also included our top and trusted product picks, like this starter bottle set for newborns by Philips Avent, which includes five bottles, two pacifiers, and a bottle brush.
Considerations when choosing baby bottles
Baby bottles come in a wide variety of styles and materials. Here's a rundown of their differences:
Types of bottles
Angled baby bottles have a bend in them, somewhere along the neck. This allows your baby to be fed in a more upright position, which pediatricians recommend to prevent ear infections.
Straight-neck bottles are what you most associate with traditional baby bottles. Their standard dimensions fit in most diaper bags, bottle warmers, and sterilizers.
Wide-neck bottles have a wider neck opening that allows for easy mixing of formula and easier cleaning. These can also accommodate a wider nipple design.
Vented baby bottles are also called "natural-flow bottles." They are designed to prevent your baby from swallowing air, which can cause painful gas. They may have vent holes on the nipple's top, have a straw design, or a valve at the bottom.
Disposable baby bottles are designed to be tossed after a single use or have a reusable bottle that comes with disposable liners that fit inside. In either case, these should only be used for traveling or emergencies because they create waste.
Glass bottles are durable, BPA-free, and long lasting. Glass is easy to clean but also carries the risk of shattering, which is why we recommend buying a protective silicone sleeve for these bottles.
Plastic bottles are more lightweight than glass ones and are also shatterproof. While inexpensive, they break down and have to be replaced regularly. Although BPA is banned from plastic baby bottles, many parents are concerned that chemicals will leach from the plastic.
Silicone bottles are not as common as the other bottle materials. Silicone is lightweight and doesn't break down as easily as plastic. This material is guaranteed to be BPA-free.
Stainless steel bottles will last the longest. They are also lightweight and don't contain BPA. On the downside, they are an expensive option and harder to find.
Shape: Standard nipples have a round shape. Orthodontic nipples are round on one side and flat on the other and are designed to align with a baby's gums and palate. Nipple shape may be determined by your baby's preference, though some babies won't care either way.
Design: Wide nipples, which have a wider base (also called flat-top nipples), feel more like a real breast to babies. This nipple design is a good option when you're transitioning from breast to bottle, or if you frequently switch between the two to avoid "nipple confusion."
Fit and flow: Nipples come with different flow levels, ranging from slow to fast, with newborns starting out at the slowest level. Choose a nipple size that fits your baby's age.
Material: Nipples are either constructed from latex or silicone. Latex is a rubber that resembles the texture of a real nipple. However, this softer material can break down or crack over time. Silicone is a less flexible material but more durable. Some babies reject its less realistic texture.
Baby bottle features
Handles are appropriate for older babies who are able to feed themselves and want something extra to grasp onto.
Measurement lines are handy for mixing formula or for keeping track of how much your child is eating.
Nipple covers are lids that snap over the bottle's nipple when not in use to keep it from getting dirty or from leaking liquid. These plastic covers are well suited for traveling.
Baby bottle prices
Baby bottles range in price from $2 to $15 a piece. Plastic bottles are the least expensive while glass and silicone are on the higher end of that spectrum. Stainless steel bottles can cost upward of $20.
Q. Can I put baby bottles in the dishwasher?
A. Not all baby bottles are dishwasher safe. Check the manufacturer's label for cleaning instructions. We also recommend investing in bottle brushes of multiple sizes to thoroughly clean both bottles and nipples.
Q. What kind of bottle should I get if I'm using a breast pump?
A. For your convenience, be sure to select a bottle that'll fit your pump. Also, if you're planning to switch between the bottle and breastfeeding, select a wide, latex nipple for as realistic a feel as possible.
Baby bottles we recommend
Best of the best: Philips Avent Natural Newborn Baby Starter Set
Our take: A premium starter set of five newborn baby bottles, plus accessories.
What we like: Superior design. Anti-colic valve. Ultra soft nipple. Comes with a cleaning brush and two newborn-sized pacifiers.
What we dislike: Set is pricey.
Best bang for your buck: Playtex Baby VentAire Bottle
Our take: Affordable set of three angled baby bottles designed to keep colic at bay.
What we like: Doctor recommended angled design. Bottom vent to reduce colic and reflux. Comes in two sizes. Affordable.
What we dislike: Can leak after frequent usage.
Choice 3: Evenflo Classic Glass Twist Bottles
Our take: A sturdy and safe alternative to plastic baby bottles.
What we like: Tempered glass can be easily sanitized and is top-shelf dishwasher safe. Material free of chemicals. Ergonomic shape is easy to hold while feeding.
What we dislike: Requires supervision for older babies.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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