Feeding or nursing has come a long way since ancient times; a turning point came in the 16th century, when feeding bottles actually began to be shaped like a bottle, thus replacing the cow horns and terracotta jugs that were used previously. Modern parents are now spoilt for choices by the different materials, types and shapes of milk bottles. Whether you breastfeed or not, there’s a high chance that you’ll need at least a few milk bottles along the way!

Finding a milk bottle that appeals to your baby, doesn’t leak, is easy to use and clean may take a few tries. It’s advisable to experiment with a few types of bottles, in order to find the right one for you and your baby – it’s no different from dating! Especially for new parents, getting the right feeding accessories can be a bit daunting, so we’ve created this handy guide that contains all this information to guide you through the selection process, and perhaps a little more. In the ensuing section, we’ll describe the key features that you should pay attention to when shopping for milk bottles. 

Best Baby Milk Bottle


Bottle Materials

Gone are the days when milk bottles are made from one material type. Nowadays, you’ll be spoilt for choice among bottles made from glass, silicone, and thermoplastics such as Polypropylene (PP), Polyphenylsulphone (PPSU), and Polyethersulphone (PESU). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Each material type has its pros and cons.

Glass

Glass bottles have existed for a much longer time that it’s thermoplastic counterparts. It’s much more durable and can withstand repeated sterilization and boiling over extended periods of time. Another key advantage of glass is the absence of Bisphenol A, which is harmful to young children. Its smooth surface makes it extremely to clean, and milk residue does not get stuck to the surfaces. However, glass tends to be brittle and shatters on impact, so extra care must be taken when using these bottles.

If you wish to use glass bottle, check that your daycare center accepts them, as many will only allow plastic baby bottles to be used. Glass bottles are also heavier, and cost more than thermoplastic bottles.

Thermoplastics (PP, PPSU, PESU)

Thermoplastics are the most used materials in baby bottles by far. Cheap, lightweight, shatter-proof and easily molded, it’s not hard to understand why. In the past, plastic bottles used to contain BPA, which is an industrial chemical used to harden plastics and resins since the 1960s. Upon exposure to hot temperatures, BPA could leak into food or drink, and has been shown to affect brain development in young children. Nevertheless, tight regulations have been put in place by the FDA, which states that only BPA-free plastic bottles can be sold in the market since 2012.

Plastic is the softest of all bottle materials, and is therefore more prone to scratches, so be sure to stick to softer bottle brushes and microfiber cloths during cleaning. Bacteria can hide in scratches and missed during the cleaning process. Plastic bottles also tend to degrade after a few months, and will need to be changed periodically. Plastic bottles made from PESU tend to withstand the rigors of sterilization better, and can be used for longer durations. Parents, if you do decide to invest in plastic bottles, do ensure that they are BPA-FREE!

Silicone

The latest generation of milk bottles are crafted with silicone as a base. This medical-grade material is BPA, and Phthalate free, making it both eco-friendly and healthy for your baby. The soft and squeezable texture mimics the feel and function of nursing. The silicone bottle can be gently squeezed at the beginning of feeding to give your baby a ‘let-down’ experience, making the transition from breast to bottle seamless.

However, due to the nature of the material, it can be hard to read the volume gradation of silicone bottles, and can be particularly frustrating during late night feedings. The heat insulating material also makes it harder for the bottle to heat up in a bottle warmer.

 

Bottle Shapes

Well we’re just getting started! Besides materials, you would have to consider the shapes of the bottles, which come in four main designs – Standard, Angled, Wide-Necked, and Vented.

Straight/Standard

The default, go-to shape for milk bottles. Without any curves, bents, or dents, this bottle shape is little more than a lid, with a nipple, and attached to a bottle. These are also known as straight-neck bottles. Inexpensive and widely available, standard bottles fit easily into conventional bottle warmers, sterilizers and diaper bag pockets.

   

Angled

angled baby bottle

As the name suggests, angled baby bottles are designed with a bend that keeps the nipple filled with milk. This prevents air bubble formation and ingestion within the bottle nipple, and your baby swallows less air during feeding. This bottle shape supports a semi-upright feeding position that can help to prevent ear infections.

Given its rather unusual shape, it make take some time for parents to learn how to hold it properly. It’s also not the easiest to clean and fill, and may not be compatible with other nursing gear, such as breast pumps, sterilizers, or electric warmers.

 

Wide-Necked

wide neck baby bottle

These bottles come with a wider opening, which is said to be more similar to a mothers’ breasts. This type of bottle is ideal for mothers who switch often between breast and bottle feeding, as they help to prevent nipple confusion. With the wider opening, it’s also easier to clean. However, these bottles are more expensive than the standard counterparts, with a smaller selection of compatible nipple sizes and lids.

 

Vented

vented baby bottle

Vented bottles are also known as natural flow bottles, or anti-colic bottles. The distinguishing feature of these bottles is the presence of a straw in the middle of the bottle. Vented bottles prevent air bubbles created during feeding from being swallowed by your baby, through the process of straw venting. Some vented bottles only include top venting, which could be identified by the presence of a valve or vent in the nipple.

With all these additional features, vented bottles are typically harder to clean, and are relatively more expensive. Still, the additional features are often compelling enough for most mothers to add these to their nursing gear range.


Bottle Size

Besides coming in different materials and shapes, baby bottles also come in different sizes. These are generally of a standard size, namely 150ml (5oz), 240ml (8oz), and 340ml (11oz), with a little variation between brands. As a general guideline, the typical amount of milk consumed by babies according to age is as follows:

Newborn: 1.5 - 3 ounces per meal, at 4 hour intervals

2 Months of Age: 4 - 5 ounces per meal, at 4 hour intervals

4 Months of Age: 4 - 6 ounces per meal, at 4 hour intervals

6 Months of Age: 6 - 8 ounces per meal, at 5 - 6 hour intervals

In real life, the amount of milk needed by babies would vary from day to day and baby to baby. It’s best to be flexible and regulate feeding based on your baby’s appetite.

This is the first part of a two part article. In part two, we’ll cover the basics of teat selection, which is the other major feature of baby bottles.