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Hands-on Gear Review
Munchkin Latch Review
Price: $10.00 List | $4.50 each (in 3-pack) at Amazon
Pros: Easy cleaning & transfer
Cons: Plastic, nipple collapse, venting, assembly, can leak
Bottom line: Over designed & is complicated to assemble and use
The Munchkin Latch bottle is an overly designed quirky bottle that has more going on in design than performance. The Latch has an accordion nipple and double vent system with an inner blue anti-colic valve. However, this plastic bottle had a leaking problem in our tests and with Amazon reviewers and you can't use it with a bottle warmer as the steam and water can enter the container through the anti-colic valve at the bottom of the bottle. So even though it is lightweight and easy for baby to hold, we think that the features that make the Latch interesting are the same features that make it a poor performer. We feel parents are better off with the higher scoring Tommee Tippee Feeding bottle that is similar without being overdesigned and thus performed better in our review.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This chart shows a comparison of the overall scores for the products we tested in this bottle review.The Munchkin bar is blue.
The subsections below provide additional details on what we liked and disliked about the Munchkin that contributed to its overall score.
The basic concept and design of the Munchkin Latch seems to be one we should like and in theory it is. The Latch scored well in our tests for leaking, because we didn't experience any leaking. However, we do have concerns that the blue valve could become perforated or be inserted incorrectly resulting in leaking, as described by many Amazon users. We do however, like the softer nipple that swivels and bends with baby's position and can move back to baby's soft palette for a more natural latch. The baby's in our tests really did seem to enjoy the more natural latch of the Munchkin bottle compared to the competition, which is no small feat and sometimes all a parent can hope for when it comes to getting baby to accept a bottle in the first place. In our tests this bottle helped create a better transition between the breast and bottle.
We also like the wide mouth opening on the bottle itself which made getting a cleaning brush inside easier, but more importantly made transferring breast milk less risky and resulted in fewer spills (especially with frozen milk). This is a big win in our book as some mothers can struggle to make enough milk and every ounce of milk counts. We also like that this bottle is relatively lightweight, average for plastic options, but lighter than glass, and that it is an easy shape for baby to hold.
While we didn't experience any leaking in our tests, we are worried the design of the anti-colic valve could result in leaking should it become perforated or be assembled incorrectly. In addition, we notice a fairly high number of complaints from Amazon users that their blue valves did leak fairly consistently giving our concerns more merit than mere speculation.
The nipple on the Latch is fairly soft which is a good thing, but the design seems to result in nipple collapse more than some of the competition. This can result in baby losing the nipple and growing agitated trying to feed from a nipple-less bottle. We also found the nipple portion of the bottle is difficult to get seated right on the bottle leading to frustration for parents in the middle of the night when maybe their sleep deprived brains and hands aren't working at their best. It seems like the ridges that help the nipple move and shift in response to baby, also make it hard to put together. No other nipples can be used with this bottle, so if you or baby decide the nipple is a no go, then the entire bottle will also have to go.
We aren't big fans of assembling or cleaning the Latch; it has more parts than some of the other options we looked at and the design of the bottle requires additional cleaning tools over the simple bottle brush most parents expect to buy. While the wide mouth makes getting an ordinary brush inside, the anti-colic valve requires special attention to ensure it is clean and this is best done with the special tool sold by Munchkin for this purpose. This increase the overall cost of the bottle and the time involved in cleaning and maintaining it. Time and money are two things that tend to be limited when your baby arrives, which is why we don't like this feature or need.
Ease of use also suffered for the Latch with a design that requires special instructions to install to ensure it works correctly. We found the instructions overly involved for a bottle and the potential for mistakes is higher than necessary. Making a mistake could influence how well the bottle works and whether or not it leaks. The valve design also means it can't be used with a bottle warmer because the possibility of steam or warming water entering into the bottle is high and not healthy for baby (even though Munchkin sells a bottle warmer, it is not compatible with their only bottle). The overall shape and design is similar to simpler bottles you can use in a warmer and don't require special instructions to assemble. This makes the Latch kind of hassle compared to the competition that scored higher in our tests. This valve will also need to be replaced at regular intervals, which increases the overall cost and continued maintenance of this bottle over the usual nipple replacement.
From the Munchkin website:
Anti-Colic valve at bottom of bottle, special directions from Latch: "we recommend activating the blue valve before each feeding. Simply hold the tip of the valve (triangle head) up to the light to see the slit and pinch it apart to ensure proper venting. When assembling your LATCH bottle, push the valve firmly through the hole at the bottom of the bottle, making sure that the triangle head is fully inserted. Cleaning is also an important component of LATCH bottle care. In order to avoid tearing, clean the valve using a small, soft brush, such as the LATCH™ Deluxe Bottle Brush.
We also don't like that this bottle is made of plastic. While the plastic is BPA-free it could potentially still contain other endocrine interrupters and definitely isn't as inert as glass. In addition, nutrients in breastmilk have been known to cling to the sides of plastic bottles unlike glass, thereby decreasing the nutritional content of the breast milk you've worked so hard to achieve. Even if you use the bottle with formula, the plastic can cause more clinging and make it more difficult to clean than glass bottles. This where safety standards for production of plastics are stricter.
The Munchkin Latch bottle might be a good option for babies that are struggling to obtain a good latch with other bottle options, but while the price is about average for plastic bottles, the materials and construction don't seem to warrant the cost for most parents. In the end, we feel this bottle has too many design features that could, or does, cause potential problems that impact performance and ease of use. These features add little for overall functionality, but create the need for additional cleaning and assembly steps that could result in a leaking or poorly cleaned bottle. In addition, the cost for valve replacement in conjunction with nipple replacement increases the cost of using this bottle long term.
Other Versions and Accessories
Munchkin doesn't make any other type of bottle, but there are some accessories you can use with your Latch bottle that either make life easier (like the pump adapter) or are a necessity (like the special bottle and valve cleaning kit).
The Munchkin Pump Adapter turns your Latch bottle into a collection device that attaches to your breast pump to avoid the need for transferring the milk from one container to another. Unfortunately, these adapters cannot double as storage lids and you'll need to use your nipple and collar to cover the container after you pump.
The Munchkin Bottle and Valve Brush Set is a collection of smaller bottle brushes that you'll need to properly clean the nooks and crannies of the Latch nipple and anti-colic blue valve. Without them it will be difficult, or impossible to get the bottle totally clean between feedings.
Munchkin also offers the Munchkin Latch Transition Cup that can be used with your bottle body when baby is ready to start sipping on his own. This package includes a flexible spout and a two handle cup holder that fits snuggly over the Latch bottle body.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
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