How to Find the Best Bottle for Your Baby

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Shopping for baby supplies can be a daunting task, and picking out baby bottles is no exception. The problem is that there are just so many choices! What size should you buy? Are plastic, glass, or stainless steel bottles the way to go? What about bottle nipples? Do you need a slim or wide nipple? What’s better—silicone or latex? What if you are planning to breastfeed: what’s the best bottle for breastfed babies? And the list goes on!

Truthfully, you won’t know exactly what kind of bottle you need until your baby arrives and lets you know their preferences (it turns out babies have a lot of opinions about stuff like this—who knew?). But that doesn’t mean you can’t narrow down your choices based on your own preferences, lifestyle, and feeding expectations.

So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about baby bottles, so that you can get your registry ready, or figure out the best bottle for your little one’s current needs.

What Size Bottle Should You Buy?

When it comes to what size bottle to buy, there are a few things to consider, including how old your baby is, whether they are breastfeeding or formula feeding, and what options the bottle brand you are interested in sells.

If you are feeding your baby formula, you will be slowly increasing the amount you feed them as they grow, so you might want to consider starting out with bottles that hold fewer ounces, and then increasing the size as your child grows. However, if you want more bang for your buck, then you can just stick to larger bottles the whole time, and let your baby grow into them.

As the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) explains, formula fed babies usually take in about 2-3 ounces at a time in their first few weeks, about 4 ounces a feeding after the first month, and then about 6-8 ounces per feed when they're six months and up.

If you are pumping breastmilk and feeding it to your baby in a bottle, you should expect to feed your baby smaller amounts of breastmilk more frequently. In general, breastfed babies consume about 2–4 ounces per feeding, every 2–3 hours.

What Kind of Bottle Nipple Should You Buy?

There are a few things to consider when you are purchasing bottle nipples: shape, material, and flow.

Shape

Bottle nipples can be narrow, wide, dome-shaped, or more flat. The general wisdom is that when you are bottle feeding a breastfed baby, you want to pick a wider bottle nipple so your baby practices opening wide, as they do while breastfeeding.

Your baby will also have preferences about bottle nipple shape, and their preferences may change as they get older.

Nipple Material

Nipples are usually either latex or silicone. Some babies have sensitivities or allergies to latex, so that’s something to keep in mind; however, latex tends to be more pliable than silicone, which many babies like. The advantages of silicone nipples is that they are more durable and tend to keep their shape.

Flow

Bottle nipples also have different flow speeds,. You can start with a slow flow and increase in speed as your baby gets older.

You can usually tell when a faster flow nipple is right for your baby, because they will seem frustrated with the slower flow. You know your baby best, so go with your instinct when it comes to trying different flow nipples as well as advancing to the next level of flow.

If you are bottle feeding a breastfed baby, it’s generally recommended that you stick with a slow flow the entire time, as that usually mimics the flow at the breast, thereby decreasing the chances of your baby beginning to prefer the faster flow of the bottle nipple.

Which Bottle Material Is Best?

In 2012, the FDA recommended against using baby bottles or sippy cups made of BPA-based materials. Bottles made of BPA are generally not sold in stores anymore, but BPA could be an issue if you are using hand-me-down bottles or bottles manufactured outside of the U.S.

Generally, you can buy bottles made of three basic kinds of material: plastic, glass, and stainless steel. Each has their pros and cons.

Plastic Bottles

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Easy to purchase

  • Hard to break

Cons
  • May contain polypropylene

  • Heating the bottle may be dangerous

It's important to note that even plastic bottles without BPA have ingredients that give parents pause, such as polypropylene.

Speak to your healthcare provider about the risk of plastics and what measures you can take to minimize risk. For example, since heating plastic may make it more dangerous, the AAP recommends heating your baby’s formula in a non-plastic container, and then transferring it to your baby’s bottle.

Glass Bottles

Pros
  • Free of concerning ingredients (e.g., BPA)

  • Durable and strong

  • Easy to clean

Cons
  • Can break

  • Heavy

If you're leaning toward purchasing glass bottles, it's worth noting that some glass bottle manufacturers sell plastic sleeves to reduce the chance of breakage.

Stainless Steel Bottles

Pros
  • Strong

  • BPA-free

Cons
  • More expensive than glass or plastic

  • Hard to see how many ounces are in the bottle

Other Materials

Other options for baby bottles include silicone bottles, and bottles with disposable linings. Silicone bottles tend to be more expensive and hard to find. Disposable linings are convenient for many, as you can toss them after feeding; however, they need to be replaced for each feeding and the cost can add up.

What Are the Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies?

Almost all breastfeeding parents will give their baby a bottle of pumped milk at one time or another. If you are a working parent, you will need to have several bottles on hand for when you return to work.

Most breastfed babies do well going from breast to bottle, though it usually takes some time to get used to a bottle if they’ve been exclusively breastfed. It’s a good idea to try bottle feeding your breastfed baby a few weeks before your return to work. It can take some trial and error to find a bottle that works for your baby, so having some options available is a good idea.

In order to make bottle feeding an easy process for your breastfed baby, you will want to try nipples that have wide bases to mimic the open-wide latching that your baby does at the breast. You will also want to use slow flow nipples most of the time, to match the slower flow of the breast. Keep in mind that breastfed babies take in 2-4 ounces at a time usually, so there is no need to buy large bottles.

Feed your baby on demand with the bottle, and consider trying paced bottle feeding, to simulate how feeding happens at the breast.

What Are the Best Bottles for Colic and Gas?

Young babies are prone to gas and stomach upset. Usually this is something they outgrow in due time, but sometimes changing how they are fed can help them. When bottle feeding, there are concerns about babies swallowing too much air, which can cause gas.

As such, some baby bottles are designed with vents to minimize the chances of air being swallowed. Angled bottles also may prevent your baby from swallowing too much air. Bottles with inner vents require special cleaning, so keep that in mind when you purchase these bottles.

Guide to Trying Different Bottles

If you are putting together your baby registry, your best bet is to keep it simple and practical. There is little need for a “newborn only” bottle; you can buy a larger bottle and have your baby grow into it.

You might want one or two options with special features, such as vents for gas, but you also don’t know yet if your baby will need that, so you don’t need to stock up.

If you are breastfeeding, you should probably buy a bottle that is compatible with your pump, so you can pump right into the bottle that you end up feeding your baby with. You’ll also want to invest in some milk storage bags for freezing.

As for other supplies, you can go basic on this too. You’ll want a bottle cleaning brush for sure. Most parents like bottle drying racks as well. Bottle warmers are optional, as not all babies even like their milk warmed up!

A Word From Verywell

As with everything baby related, there can be some stress attached to feeding your baby by bottle, even once you have all your supplies in check. Some babies are fussy when you try to feed them, or seem fussy after feeding. You can certainly try different bottles and bottle nipples to see if your baby has a preference. You can also pay attention to how you are feeding. Be mindful of your baby’s feeding cues, and don't try to rush them through a feeding. Give your baby breaks, and stop when your baby is full.

If your baby continues to fuss or seems to have an upset stomach after feeding, talk to your doctor. Sometimes choosing a different bottle shape or feature will help; other times, switching formula type or introducing medication for gas or reflux is the answer. Your doctor will know what options you should consider.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Healthy Children. Amount and Schedule of Formula Feedings. Updated July 24, 2018.

  2. Medline Plus. Buying and caring for baby bottles and nipples. Updated May 17, 2019.

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application. Updated November 1, 2014.

  4. Trasande L. Some food additives raise safety concerns for child health; AAP offers guidance. AAP News. Updated July 23, 2018.

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