When preparing for your baby’s arrival, chances are bottles will be fairly high up on your list of baby essentials. Regardless of whether you’re planning to bottle-feed, combination feed, or simply feed the occasional expressed bottle, having a supply of bottles ready to go is a great place to start. With so many different bottles to choose from however, it can be hard to know where to begin.
Every baby is different, so it’s fair to say what works for one baby wont for another. That said, here are some things to consider when buying bottles for your baby.
Be prepared to try a few of various brands
As a first-time mom, it can be fairly overwhelming to see the variety of bottles to choose from. Whist it can be easy to stick with a brand you know and trust, it’s important not to overcommit. Try and refrain from buying lots of bottles before you’ve tested them out with your baby.
Just like us grown-ups, babies can have strong preferences about the type of bottle they will drink from – from the shape of the bottle itself to the size and texture of the nipple teat. The safest option is to buy a single bottle from a few different brands and give them each a go. Chances are, there will be one variety that your baby takes too more willingly than the others.
It’s important to remember that practice definitely makes perfect, so don’t automatically rule a bottle out if your baby doesn’t warm to it on the first attempt. It’s recommended you give each bottle around a two-week trial before shifting to another as it can take your baby a while to fully adjust to a new bottle, particularly if they are used to the breast.
Consider bottle materials
Most baby bottles are made from plastic, which whilst not the most environmentally friendly, are the most durable, portable and easy to clean. Look out for BPA free plastic to ensure they are safe for your newborn. Alternatively, you can buy glass bottles, which whilst may sound a little risky are made from durable medical grade glass that is both safe and sustainable. Glass bottles are also less likely to stain than the plastic alternatives.
Choose your bottle sizes
Initially, due to their tiny tummy, your newborn won’t be consuming large quantities of milk, and as such, small bottle sizes are the most suitable. 4oz bottles are usually perfectly adequate, with a slow flow nipple to ensure that your baby isn’t overwhelmed or gulping due to milk flowing too fast. As your baby gets bigger, you may move on to 8oz bottles and can let your baby guide as to whether a faster flow may be required. If you’re transitioning from the breast and have a particularly fast let down, you may find your baby can cope well with a faster flow. Again, some trial and error may be required here.
Consider the bottle shape
Some baby bottles are long and slim, which can be ideal for storing in smaller homes or popping into your changing bag. Others may have a more ergonomically shaped design with curved sides or ridges for grip. The latter can be useful when your baby is a little older- helping them grasp on or hold on to the bottle themselves.
Ease of cleaning
It’s worth considering how easy your baby bottles to clean. Are there lots of individual parts to unscrew and sterilize individually? Do they come with any cleaning brushes for those with valves and anti-colic features? Larger bottles or those with a wider neck are generally easier to clean. Some bottles are also suitable for the dishwasher which can be helpful when in the newborn parenting haze.
If your baby is prone to gas, colic or regularly spits up milk, you may want to consider a venting bottle. These clever bottles contain an anti-colic valve that can help prevent bubbles forming as they drink. This prevents the build-up of gas that can cause your baby discomfort. Some bottles also allow for upright feeding, which can be helpful if your baby is prone to over drinking or regularly brings up some of their feed.
Not all bottles ‘nipples’ or teats are created equal. Some are made from rubber, whilst others are made from soft silicone or latex. The latter can offer an easier transition for breast fed babies, but don’t tend to last as long. If your baby is an enthusiastic feeder, they can also be prone to collapse in on themselves, flattening through the force of your baby’s suckle.
Breast feeding compatibility
If you’re planning to provide the occasional bottle whilst breast feeding, you should consider how similar the bottle is to the breast. Some bottles come with flat topped nipples that are wider at the base and flatter on the top, more closely replicating the sensation of feeding at the breast. Others are larger and rounder, so if your baby is predominantly breast feeding you may find that they resist the unfamiliar sensation.
Compatibility with breast pump
Finally, if you’re expressing milk for your baby, you may want to consider which bottles are compatible with your breast pump. For convenience, this means you can express directly into the bottle before replacing the lid and popping in the fridge for later.