Our complete review of the best baby bottles is a great place to start reading if you want more information on the types of bottles we tested and how each individual bottle ranked against the competition. You may also be interested in our related article, Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?.
Why Buy a Bottle?
- Provide mom with much needed breaks — Even if mom is planning on breastfeeding, eventually she will need to take time away from baby either for her own sanity for the sake of real world responsibilities. Once baby has established a nursing routine and is good at latching and thriving (3-6 weeks), then parents can introduce a bottle so mom can sleep or slip away with ease.
- Formula Feeding Only — Whether you have decided to feed formula from the beginning, or your breastfeeding dreams don't work out, you'll need a bottle for feeding baby. It is much easier to have a few on hand to test out than feeling desperate if nursing isn't working or your original bottle choice is not accepted by your baby.
Finding the right bottle that baby likes, and you can live with, is likely going to be more difficult than you originally thought with many babies struggling to use different types of bottles and/or nipples. Buying a bottle isn't as simple as grabbing a cheap one off the shelf and hitting the checkout line, and knowing what to look for and which features you should consider can be the difference between finding the perfect fit or spending a lot on bottles you'll never use.
This video features the NUK baby bottle, and shows nice bottle latch facilitated by a wide-mouth nipple.
We recommend parents buy only one of any potential bottle that seems like a good fit to see how baby responds before spending more money on multiple bottles. While some retailers, like Amazon, allow for easy returns, not many will accept a used bottle and still offer you a refund. Buying one will limit your outgoing cash until you find the perfect bottle for your baby.
Types of Bottles
The bottles we tested for this review vary in their shape, materials used, nipple design, and vents and valves. There are a few differences in bottles you should know about, especially if up until now you thought a bottle is a bottle is a bottle.
Bottle Body Material
- 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." We like the Pura Kiki stainless steel bottle when used as a sippy, and it won awards in both our transition sippy cup review, as well as the sippy cup and kid's water bottle reviews. With the change of mouthpiece it also can be used as a bottle.
- Comotomo is a neat option with a wide mouth, breast like nipple, and made almost entirely of silicone with a simple vent in the nipple. It has very few parts, is easy to clean, and has no plastic at all.
Bottle body types can come in a variety of shapes from contoured for easier holding to simple cylinders. Some have wide neck openings that make milk transfer and cleaning easy, while others have narrow openings that are hard to clean even with a bottle brush and can lead to spillage when filling.
In a study published in Environmental Health, researchers found that some types of plastics still potentially leach estrogenic chemicals even if they are BPA free.
For more on plastics and why they give us pause please read our article on Are Plastics Safe for Bottles and Sippy Cups?.
Nipples come in two basic types, but their venting and valve systems come in almost as many options as there are bottles. All the nipples we reviewed are made of silicone and the primary differences are that some nipples are fairly narrow in shape and others are larger and more mound like to more closely mimic an actual breast.
Vents and Valves
How to Choose the Best Baby Bottle
Taking a step by step approach is the best way to find the right bottle. Avoid being swayed or overwhelmed by friendly recommendations or bottles given to you as hand me downs. While both of these are a great place to start, it doesn't mean they will be the bottle that meets your goals or baby's needs.
First, Choose Materials
Given that this is baby's first real exposure to potential chemicals in the world and their very nutrition will be sitting in this bottle potentially for hours, it makes sense to give significant priority and thought to the material of the bottle body. As stated earlier we prefer glass for baby bottles with silicone running a close second and plastic bringing up the rear.
The glass material used in the bottles we looked at is thermal and shock resistant and eco-healthy without any risk of potential chemicals leeching into the contents. We like that glass is easy to clean, heat, and good for baby. The Lifefactory glass bottle is lighter than the Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Glass, and comes with a silicone sleeve not found on the Philips AVENT Natural Glass bottle. In addition, we didn't have any leaking with the Lifefactory bottle and babies in our tests seem to like the nipple and had no difficulty holding the bottle. With concerns over chemicals in plastic we aren't big fans and feel that parents should limit exposure to plastic whenever possible. Alternatively, the silicone body in the Comotomo is also a potential option given the lack of data on potential health impacts of medical grade silicone.
Second, Choose Nipple Style
Once you've narrowed down your body material, the next big question is what type of nipple will best suit your baby. In general the thought is the more breast like nipples work well for babies who are transitioning from the breast to a bottle and likely back to the breast to avoid confusion. There is some truth to this belief and for babies that struggled to obtain a good latch to being with it can be a big deal to find the right nipple that allows for a similar latch so they don't lose their latching capabilities.
Munchkin Latch has accordian ridges along the bottom that should help angle the bottle for easier feeding, but we weren't fond of how it performed in real life, with some babies continually rotating the bottle to accommodate the angle. The Tommee Tippee has a nice nipple that is well liked by many testers, but the plastic bottle makes it less desirable than the glass or silicone bottle, however it is very budget friendly so depending on your bottle needs it might be a good option.
Third, To Vent or not to Vent
best baby bottle for detailed information on each bottle and how it performed in our tests.