baby bottles

Baby Bottles – How To Choose The Right Type of Baby Bottle

If you will be bottle-feeding more or less from the birth, you’ll need to buy 6 baby bottles. Even if you’re breast-feeding or planning to, there is a good chance that you will purchase bottles at some time during your infant’s first 12 months, so it is worth familiarising yourself with the advantages and disadvantages of different types of bottle, and perhaps having one or two in case you require them.

Considering what your child drinks and eats can easily become an obsession. From the first gulps from the breast or bottle to the refusals later on to eat anything green, worrying that she or he is having too little or too much is a parental emotion hard to avoid.

baby bottlesWhatever your baby’s dietary routines and mode of getting nutrition, you are sure to become besieged by a wealth of feeding products and equipment from the word go. Even if you are breast-feeding, so don’t need to think about formula milk and bottles for the time being, there remains the option of a range of breast-feeding accessories — which may be useful or useless depending on your personal preferences as well as experiences.

And when your baby procedes to solids, at some point you’ll most likely be worrying that you aren’t doing what’s right because you purchase packets or jars of food rather than making your own. With most feeding products and equipment there is likely to be a degree of learning from mistakes in finding out what suits you and your baby best.

Baby Bottles and teats

A baby’s bottle seems such an easy and uncomplicated product, yet obtaining the right bottle for their baby is a job many parents find difficult. That’s because different bottles — or more specifically, teats — suit different babies, and the one that your friend’s baby happily uses won’t necessarily be the one that your own will take to. Many parents do strike the jackpot first time, possibly because they are lucky or because their baby is not fussy. For other people, an experimental process is going to be necessary. This can be especially the situation for mothers trying to wean their infant off the breast and on to the bottle.

Types of baby bottle

The fundamental choice is between standard and wide-necked bottles. Within these two categories there are bottles with added features, such as an easy-to–hold shape or heat-sensitive material. Teats normally come with the bottle but you can also buy them separately. It pays to have more teats compared to bottles as they will need replacing (for more on teats, see below). The usual amount of milk a bottle will hold is 250m1, although you can get scaled-down bottles for new babies.

Standard baby bottles

standard baby bottleThese are the narrow, cylindrical bottles that are a familiar sight. You can buy them plain or embellished with various babyish designs. They’ll fit a variety of standard teats and either have self-seal lids or include sealing discs, which you use to seal the milk in the bottle when you go out (this sort also have lids but these are not leak-proof, unless created specifically to be so).

Pros:

  • Most widely available
  • most likely to fit add-ons such as bottle coolers as well as sterilisers least expensive type of bottle.

Cons:

  • Using the sealing discs can be an irritation — self-closing lids are less tricky if you are taking a bottle out with you
  • the narrow neck means they may be trickier to fill compared to wide–necked variations, so are more likely to result in milk powder splatters.

Wide-necked baby bottles

wide-neck baby bottlesPioneered through the manufacturer Avent, these are shorter and fatter than regular bottles but take the same amount of milk. They usually take silicon rather than latex teats and will often have the self–sealing lid.

Pros:

  • Simple to clean and fill up
  • some are made to have anti-colic properties, as babies are less likely to gulp down air with their milk (see below)

Cons:

  • Much less versatile, in the sense which once you begin using a wide–necked bottle you’ll most likely be sticking with bottles and accessories produced by one or two manufacturers
  • take up more space — for instance, you might not be able to fit as many bottles in a steriliser.

Unusually shaped baby bottles

A few bottles tend to be shaped to be easier for little hands to hold. Oblong-shaped bottles with a hole in the centre for fingers to hold easy-grip baby bottlesare widely available. You can also purchase bottles with rounded ridges along the sides and ‘nipped in’ waists. Wide-necked, angle-shaped bottles, on the other hand, are created to be anti-colic. Because the top of the container is at a good angle the milk always stays within the teat, therefore there’s less likelihood of the infant swallowing air. The manufacturers state that this decreases colic.

Benefits:

  • Easy–grip bottles are useful for encouraging older babies to drink unaided
  • angle-shaped bottles are worth an attempt if your infant has colic.

Cons:

  • Some unusually shaped bottles can be more difficult to wash, as milk residue gathers in the nooks and crannies — you may want to buy a special bottle–brush
  • they may not fit inside your steriliser
  • the main potential advantage of anti-colic bottles is fairly short-lived as colic is uncommon after 3 months of age.

Heat-sensitive baby bottles

A fairly current innovation, these bottles come with an in-built temperature sensor which changes colour if the milk is too warm.

Pros:

  • May be useful if you’re particularly nervous about giving your baby too-hot milk.

Negatives:

  • Arguably unneeded — using the inside of your wrist to test milk temperature is a time-honoured method that works well enough for most of us.

Baby Bottle ‘sets’ or ‘systems’

Some producers make bottle sets including attachments such as handles as well as trainer spouts, which you can fit on to the bottles when your infant reaches the appropriate stage. The concept is that you stick with the same bottles from delivery to weaning and simply customise them for the baby’s needs and abilities.

Pros:

  • Flexible
  • reasonably priced if you stick with the same bottle system.

Negatives:

  • Your baby may prefer the ‘non–system’ kind of bottle or spout, in which case the bottle system is not good value for money or flexible
  • you may be buying into the particular manufacturer’s range of products so might be less willing to experiment with other brands.

Disposable baby bottles

These aren’t so much throw away bottles as disposable, sterilised bags which fit into the bottle. You fit them into the container, fill them with milk, and throw them away when your baby has finished.

Benefits:

  • Convenient to use whenever out or on holiday because there is no need for a steriliser.

Negatives:

  • Expensive if used daily
  • you may not feel comfortable with another disposable item —you’ll be generating enough waste from other baby-related things.

Types of teat

The type of teat you choose might make a difference to how well your baby feeds, so you might need to experiment with different types.

Latex or silicone?

Teats are made from either latex or silicone. Latex tends to feel softer but, if you can get a baby to take one, silicone teats are more practical for parents. Silicone is more durable and may withstand easier the barrage of washing and sterilising that is necessary to keep a teat clean. Rubber teats can become sticky and fragile after repeated use and can need changing more often. Wide-necked bottles usually only take silicone teats whilst standard bottles can take either.

Traditional or orthodontic?

The typical shape for a teat is actually either the standard bell form or a bulbous, orthodontic shape that is supposed to resemble much more closely the form of a breast and the contours of your baby’s mouth. Again, you may need to try both to find which type your baby prefers. A few teats have anti-colic valves, which are dents or holes in the teat that are designed to reduce the amount of air your baby consumes with the milk.

Milk Flow rate

How fast the actual milk goes into your baby’s mouth depends upon the number and type of holes in the tip of the teat. You need to choose a teat with a ‘flow rate’ that suits your child. Teats vary from slow-flow, for smaller babies, through to medium- and fast-flow, for larger babies who can cope with more milk with every suck. You may also buy variable flow teats, which match babies of all ages as the flow is determined by how hard they suck. You most likely need to alter the teat to a slower-flow one if your baby is spluttering his or her milk out and choking, or to a faster one if he or she is actually sucking hard but appears to be getting discouraged.