The Test to Find the Best Baby Bottles
Which bottle will emerge as the top baby bottle when 9 of the most popular competitors are tested side-by-side? In this review, we took 9 of the most popular bottles to see how they compared side-by-side. We set out to answer questions like: do the anti-colic vents and valves really matter? Which nipple size and shape do babies prefer? Which bottles don't leak? After months of hands-on-testing, we rated each for leakage, nipple stability and latch, ease-of-use, ease-of-cleaning, and on one of today's ever important topics, eco-health. With testing data in hand we narrowed the competition down to our favorites to share with you! Read on for all the details.
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Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Analysis and Test Results
Types of Bottles
Kiinde Squeeze, and some even increased the number of containers used from pumping to storing to liner.
We did review a bottle that is entirely made of silicone, the Comotomo, which won our Top Pick Award for Innovation. Silicone is often mistaken for plastic, but it is technically part of the rubber family. Silicone is considered a food-safe and non-toxic alternative to plastic, made largely of silica (sand), the same basic material used to make glass. It has many of the benefits of plastic such as being lightweight and nearly unbreakable. We consider silicone to be a better material for baby bottles in terms of health and safety risks than plastic, but not quite as good as glass. On the other hand, silicone offers the convenience of plastic and might be just right for parents who find glass too heavy and breakable.
Pura Kiki Infant. Pura offers their bottles for use as sippy cups, which won awards in our best transition sippy and sippy cup reviews.
Nipple Venting and Internal Valves
Munchkin Latch, the internal vent system of Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Glass, and the dual vented nipple of the Comotomo.
Each bottle manufacturer offered their own take on nipples and venting or valves designed to help reduce the ingestion of air while baby feeds. Some have simple vents in the nipple itself, while others have complicated internal systems that sit in the contents and require special brushes to keep clean. Some nipples have ridges, internal petals, accordion angles and more to make them supposedly easier for baby to drink from. One in our testing even has an internal valve that inserts in the bottom of the bottle.
Criteria for Evaluation
When testing each bottle we considered several different attributes and performance metrics to determine category scores and overall ranks. The main metrics are leakage, nipples, ease of cleaning, ease of use, and eco-health. Each metric had a variety of tests and hands on use by baby testers and their parents in side-by side comparisons to determine which options performed better than others.
Given this, we tested each bottle for leakage and how likely it is to leak while feeding, in a diaper bag, or simply sitting on the counter or in the fridge. Our tests were conducted side-by-side and helped us determine which could hold their liquid and which had difficulty. The high score for leakage is a 9 shared by 3 different bottles including the Editors' Choice option, the Lifefactory glass bottle, which didn't leak while baby fed or while in the diaper bag. The low score is a 4 for the Medela Breastmilk bottle that leaked both from the nipple and the collar if it is screwed on too tight.
Playtex Nurser and the Comotomo, our Top Pick award winner that looks almost exactly like an actual breast. The low score for nipple performance is the Medela with a 4 and a narrow nipple that inverted frequently in our tests.
Ease of Cleaning
Cleaning is the part of bottle-dom that many parents dread. With some bottles having very narrow necks that are difficult to clean with a standard bottle brush and others requiring special tiny brushes for cleaning venting systems this metric can be of significant importance if you want to spend more time with
Some of the easiest bottles to clean had disposable liners where the liquid is kept and thus only had 1 or 2 parts that needed to be cleaned. The Kiinde Squeeze and the Playtex Nurser both have the liners and earned a score of 10 for cleaning because you really only need to clean the nipple on a regular basis. Of these we preferred the Kiinde for several reasons, but primarily because the liner is recyclable and it can go from pump to storage to bottle with no transfer needed. The highest scoring bottle without a liner is the Philips AVENT Natural Glass with a 9 and only 3 parts to clean that don't really need any special brushes to clean well. The low score for the group is a 4 for the Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Glass which has a venting system inside the bottle that requires small narrow bottle brushes to clean.
Ease of Use
Tommee Tippee Feeding (our Best Value Winner) and Lifefactory bottles. Both bottles offer features that make them easier for baby to hold, they have limited parts for quick and easy assembly, and they make liquid transfer simple with wider necks. The low score in the group is a 3 for the Kiinde Squeeze that seems like it should be easy to use, but is very difficult thanks to a longer liner bag that is hard to pump with and a limited volume ability that requires changing the bags mid-feeding sometimes up to 3 times if baby is older or very hungry.
Plastics are Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups. In general, we prefer glass and stainless steel over plastic materials for baby products but stainless doesn't allow you to see through the bottle and see how much an infant has taken, and thus aren't our favorites for infant bottles. And, while stainless steel remains is one of favorite options for sippy cups, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine noted in their Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants (pdf) that "steel containers were associated with a marked decline in cell count and cell viability when compared to polyethylene and to glass." Glass is recyclable, can be used for an extended period of time, doesn't scratch very easily, is easier to clean than plastic. Plastics are our least favorite, because even though they are BPA free they could still potentially be leaching chemicals into their contents. We think it is best to limit baby's exposure to plastics whenever possible. All of the nipples are made with silicone, which is an industry standard and generally considered safe.
Joovy Boob in this review that comes in a glass version because we are very curious about this newer glass addition to the bottle market; it has gotten good reviews from users on Amazon and we will likely include it in our next update of this review. It is similar to the Lifefactory in that it is glass, and some even come with silicone sleeves for easier gripping and protection from drops. The lowest score is a 2 for the Playtex Nurser that is almost entirely plastic, save for the nipple, and has disposable pouches that are not recyclable.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to bottles, and we hope that our review and analysis has helped you narrow down to top contenders that will work for you and your baby. Keep in mind that some experimentation is often required to find the bottle that meets your needs, and that your baby will take to. Until you've found the perfect bottle, we'd recommend buying one at a time, so you don't overinvest in a particular type of bottle before you've confirmed it is going to work well for you.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD
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