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Hands-on Gear Review

Medela Breastmilk Review

Price:   $6.33 List | $2.13 each (in 6-pack) at Amazon
Pros:  Works w/ Medela breastpumps, easy to assemble
Cons:  Nipple leaks, plastic, nipple, hard to clean
Bottom line:  Leaky bottle w/ latching issues in our tests
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Medela

The Skinny

The Medela Breastmilk Bottle is a BPA-free plastic bottle that works with Medela breast pumps and other accessories. And while we love that this simplistic bottle means a quick and seamless transfer from pump to storage to feeding baby, we don't really like the plastic container or the tendency it has to leak around the nipple and collar. This bottle might be good as a backup plan to your regular bottle lineup if you own a Medela pump, but otherwise, we don't think it is the best option given the smaller collapsing nipple, the lack of air venting, and the harder to clean narrow neck. If the bottle were glass or the nipple larger and more baby friendly, the Medela might have performed better in our tests.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Friday
July 1, 2016

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One upside to the Medela Breastmilk is the ability to go from pump to storage to bottle with ease and no extra containers.
One upside to the Medela Breastmilk is the ability to go from pump to storage to bottle with ease and no extra containers.

The Medela Breastmilk Bottle is made by Medela, a familiar brand for many parents, even new ones. The manufacturer is practically synonymous with breastfeeding thanks to their impressive lineup of breast pumps and accessories that make breastfeeding and collecting and storing breastmilk easier. They offer products that for pumping, storage, and feeding baby, including the Breastmilk bottle. The Breastmilk is compatible with all the Medela pumps, is dishwasher safe and BPA-free, made of FDA food contact grade polypropylene. It comes with minimal parts making it easy to clean, and it attaches directly to the pump for easy collection and storage without transfer that can result in losing milk.

Performance Comparison


This comparison chart shows the overalls cores for the bottles we tested in this review. The Medela is shown in blue for easy comparison.


The sections below provide additional details on what we liked and disliked about this product.

Four-month-old  15.5-pound baby boy drinking from the Medela Breastmilk bottle with slow flow nipple. Leaking from the nipple was an issue with this product  something made worse by the collapsing nipple.
Four-month-old, 15.5-pound baby boy drinking from the Medela Breastmilk bottle with slow flow nipple. Leaking from the nipple was an issue with this product, something made worse by the collapsing nipple.

Likes


The best thing about this Medela bottle is the compatibility with Medela breast pumps and other accessories. Being able to pump milk directly into the same bottle baby will drink out of limits waste, uses fewer containers, and reduces the number of steps necessary to make a bottle for your baby.

The Bottle of the Medela only has 3 parts  the dust cap and flat cap are for transportation and storage respectively.
The Bottle of the Medela only has 3 parts, the dust cap and flat cap are for transportation and storage respectively.

The Medela is an uncomplicated bottle with a simple design and few parts. We were able to assemble the parts without the instructions and having fewer parts makes cleaning easier. This design gave the Medela its highest score in the review for cleaning. The plastic bottle is BPA-free and won't break like glass can, reducing the risk of possible injury (though slim) related to broken glass. The nipple compatible with the bottle is of medium firmness and gets the job done even though it is on the smaller side.

The volume indicators are clearly marked on the side of Medela bottle body and are easy to read  not all of the competition offered such easy to read volume markings.
The volume indicators are clearly marked on the side of Medela bottle body and are easy to read, not all of the competition offered such easy to read volume markings.

We also like the outside measurement markings on this bottle because testers found them easy to read and well defined. This bottle is compatible with most bottle warmers, and it is the lightest weight bottle in this review.

The Medela is made entirely of plastic  and while BPA-free we aren't big fans of plastic in general and some have been shown to leach chemicals into their contents.
The Medela is made entirely of plastic, and while BPA-free we aren't big fans of plastic in general and some have been shown to leach chemicals into their contents.

Dislikes


We found more dislikes than likes when it came to the Medela bottle compared to the competition. Testers felt the bottle failed in comparison on some pretty key factors that spelled trouble for baby and parents.

3.5-month-old  14-pound baby boy testing the Medela Breastmilk bottle. With a narrow  small nipple  this was the least breast-like and resulted in a poor latch with milk leakage.
3.5-month-old, 14-pound baby boy testing the Medela Breastmilk bottle. With a narrow, small nipple, this was the least breast-like and resulted in a poor latch with milk leakage.
The Medela nipple leaks regularly and despite our efforts to limit this problem. We experienced leaking around the nipple area and around the collar where the nipple portion attaches to the bottle. Leaking is a problem when baby drinks and you invert the bottle for use. If leaking while in use isn't bad enough, the cap for this bottle doesn't sit on the body of the bottle securely, so the bottle might leak when carried and stowed as well. For any mother that has struggled to create enough of the liquid gold known as breast milk, this is a very frustrating thing, and it makes this bottle a disappointment to many of our testers.

The nipple on the Medela is very narrow and the most un-breast like option in the review.
The nipple on the Medela is one of the smallest in the group and resulted in a poor latch with leaking around baby's mouth for some of our testers.
 

We also weren't big fans of the nipple design or feel on the Medela as it is on the smaller side and caused latching problems for our little testers. Because some babies could get the entire nipple into their mouth, they had problems with the nipple collapsing. Even many Amazon reviewers experienced similar events that we did in our testing of collapsing nipples, indicating it might be a widespread issue for this nipple design. The collapsing nipple means you have to remove the bottle from baby's mouth and right the nipple before feeding can continue. The lack of venting on this bottle likely exacerbates this problem.

While the bottle has few parts making cleaning easier and less time consuming, it also has a narrow neck design that makes fitting the brush into the bottle more difficult and increases the chances of parents needing an additional smaller cleaning brush on hand to get deep inside the container. The bottle design is also somewhat strange because it offers no venting (something very common in most modern bottles) and the milk had a tendency of getting stuck in the wide area below the nipple when the baby was drinking.

The Medela also didn't score well for eco-health thanks to its plastic body (see our article on plastics). While we understand it is BPA free FDA food contact grade polypropylene, it still isn't as inert as glass or stainless steel, and we think glass offers potentially more benefits to your baby because the nutrients in the breastmilk don't cling to the inside of the bottle like it can with plastics. Also, this bottle is made in China, and we prefer those created in America or Europe.

While the Medela Breastmilk bottle with slow flow nipple is easy for little ones to hold  the nipple was a constant source of leaking during testing  which is a non-starter for most parents.
While the Medela Breastmilk bottle with slow flow nipple is easy for little ones to hold, the nipple was a constant source of leaking during testing, which is a non-starter for most parents.

Conclusion


Overall, the Medela Breastmilk isn't the best choice for most parents, though we can see the argument for moms who use a Medela breast pump keeping some on hand for quick transfers and convenience for storage or while traveling. We think it is better to invest in other options for your go to bottle given the lower score of the Medela and the fact that it came in last place in our tests. With the potential of finding a similarly priced glass bottle that performs better and leaks less, the Medela becomes a less desirable option.

Other Versions and Accessories


Medela also offers the Medela Calma, a bottle meant exclusively for breastfeeding and not intended for formula. We didn't test the Calma, but the manufacturer claims that the bottle makes switching between the breast and bottle easier than ever before. The Calma is designed to use baby's natural feeding behavior by allowing milk flow only when the baby is working and creates a vacuum to express the milk. This function is similar to breastfeeding and Medela believes this helps in the transition and creating positive feeding habits.

This bottle would work well with our Best Value award winner for breast pumps the Medela Pump in Style Advanced, and the handheld Medela Harmony Manual.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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Most recent review: July 1, 2016
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