A baby bottle is a baby bottle, right? Not nowadays. Companies keep introducing new, more streamlined bottles in various materials and boasting a wide range of features.
Baby bottles are not just containers for baby's nutrients; they're also objects of comfort for little ones. Babies spend a lot of time with these objects and associate them with satisfaction and love, often adding the word "bah" to their list of first words.
A product that's such an intimate part of baby's life should be chosen wisely, but that doesn't mean you have to break the bank. Some bottles are designed with specific needs in mind, so you should do a bit of research to find which is best for your baby. At the very least, a baby bottle should be designed to be safe and to do what it's supposed to do in an efficient manner.
There are some key features many parents look for in a baby bottle. These features make feeding easier, help prevent common problems associated with feeding, and protect a baby's health.
Look closely at the way companies advertise their bottles, and you'll see that most bottle manufacturers specialize in one type of bottle or another. Of course, some bottles may have more than one desirable feature.
What constitutes "good" bottles isn't only up to the mom; babies have preferences just like we do. It may take some trial and error to find the right bottle. You may try a bottle out on your little one and find that she's not all that interested in it, while another type will make her happy.
Better for the Belly
When a baby drinks from a bottle, air can get sucked in and mix with the liquid. This can cause common infant complaints such as gas, spitting up, and other tummy troubles. It can also lead to ear infections as air gets trapped in the baby's middle ear.
Any mother will tell you that these conditions are the cause of many miserable, sleepless nights for the whole family.
Many bottle makers have recognized these problems and tried to prevent them by creating a bottle that either by its shape or some other feature prevents air from mixing with the liquid.
- Angled-neck bottles are a simple way to reduce gas and other stomach issues. This design allows milk to collect in the nipple as the baby feeds, reducing air intake. They also encourage holding the baby in a slightly upright position, which promotes digestion and decreases the risk of ear infections. One good-quality angle neck baby bottle is the Playtex Vent-Aire.
- The Playtex Original Nurser includes disposable plastic bottle inserts that collapse as the baby nurses, reducing air intake.
- The fully vented Dr. Brown's Natural Flow baby bottle is designed with a special straw-shaped vacuum system that reduces air bubbles. This bottle is one of the highest rated baby bottles on the market today. An added bonus: less air in the bottle means no oxidation of nutrients.
Back to Nature
Parents have a new concern when it comes to their babies' health: toxic chemicals in baby bottles. Plastics in some baby bottles contain compounds like BPA, phthalates, and other chemicals that can cause serious illnesses in children. This scary discovery was a major wake-up call for parents and bottle manufacturers, and created a new trend toward more natural baby bottles that are healthier for kids and better for the planet, too.
The leader in the eco-friendly baby bottle industry is Born Free, a Florida-based company that produces BPA-free Polyethersulfone (PES) baby bottles that are safe and recyclable, too. When you're done with a Born Free bottle, just send it back to the company to be turned into other products, like eco-safe plastic chew-rings.
Your grandma probably used glass baby bottles and guess what? They're back. Glass baby bottles are chemical free and can be reused indefinitely, so they're perfect for the eco-conscious mom.
The Evenflo Sensitive Response Clear Glass Bottle is designed much like a classic glass baby bottle, but it includes an air-control venting system. They're a great choice for home use and for newborns, but many moms think twice about toting glass bottles or using them for older babies.
The main problem with glass baby bottles is durability. The thought of a glass bottle shattering in a diaper bag or at the hands of a rambunctious older baby is a nightmare no parent wants to risk. The Evenflo bottles are made of a thick, durable glass, which helps ease some of the worries, but if you're still skeptical, a baby bottle protector can help.
Silkskin, by Silikids is a thick silicone cover that slips onto baby bottles to protect them from breakage. These bottle covers come in various colors and they're not just safe, they're trendy, too.
Even if a baby was never breastfed, her mouth was made to fit a real, human mother's nipple. Many baby bottle makers try to create bottle nipples that are as close to the real thing as possible.
Most companies have a range of nipple types that fit all or most of their bottles. Choosing the right type of nipple for your baby is pretty easy if you follow some simple guidelines.
The main concern with "standard" nipples is that they're not shaped much like a breast nipple. This unnatural design encourages the baby to grasp the nipple with his lips rather than taking as much of into his mouth as possible. This is a particular problem if you're switching back and forth between the breast and the bottle.
A better choice is an orthodontic nipple. These are made with the baby's mouth shape in mind and are designed to more closely mimic the shape of a mother's nipple.
The Avent bottle/nipple system is one of the best choices if you want a nipple with a natural shape and function. Avent nipples are specially made with a wider design and appear "stubbier" than regular nipples. The bottles are made to match and have a similar look.
Flow speed is another consideration when it comes to nipples. Avent nipples offer a variable flow nipple, making it easier to use as your baby gets older and/or is weaned from the breast and needs a faster flow speed.
Hopefully all this information about baby bottles can help you make some educated choices about what type of bottle to get for your little one, or at least a good place to start some trial and error with new bottles.