How to choose the best bottle for my baby?

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Bottle feeding a baby can be quite a daunting experience. Whether you decide to express breast milk or feed them formula milk, bottle feeding – particularly for the first time – can be a scary experience.

Choosing the right bottle for your little one is one of the most important parts of feeding. Some babies will take any bottle first time, however others will only take to a specific style of teet or brand. When you’re expecting, it’s worth buying a selection of bottle and teets ready for your baby’s arrival, as depending on their size, age and ability to suck and swallow, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ bottle. So what should you look for when buying a bottle?

Material

Silicone and plastic are the most common materials used for bottles, however stainless steel and glass are also used. Silicone bottles are light, unbreakable, BPA-free, and often soft. They are however more expensive than their counterparts. Like silicone, plastic is light, ubiquitous and shatterproof, but are relatively inexpensive. However many parents worry about chemicals even in BPA-free plastic. They are also prone to deteriorating meaning they need to be replaced regularly. Glass bottles are sold universally. Lasting much than plastic ones they are also BPA-free, however glass is heavy and can shatter – although you can buy silicone sleeves to go over glass bottles to prevent this. Stainless steel is light and unbreakable as well as BPA-free and long lasting. However stainless steel bottles can be expensive and hard to find.

Size

As a baby grows, you will need to invest in larger bottles to hold the right capacity of milk. A 4-ounce bottles is ideal for new-borns, holding just enough for tiny babies. 8 to 9-ounce bottles are generally right for when they reach around 4 months. You can then judge how big a bottle you will need as your baby grows.

Shape

Baby bottles come in a wide range of shapes. Traditional bottles are generally tall and slightly curved or angled. Easy to hold for both you and your baby, they are generally the preferred choice. It’s important to note however that if you are using formula, a wide-necked bottle may make measuring formula easier.

Teets

Teets generally come in latex and silicone varieties. Latex nipples are softer and more flexible, but some babies are allergic to them. Whereas silicone nipples are firmer and hold their shape longer. Typically shaped like a bell or dome, there are a wide range of shapes and styles. Orthodontic nipples for example are designed to accommodate your child’s palate and gums. Complete with a bulb that’s flat on the side allowing it to rest on your child’s tongue, they are comfortable for babies of all ages.

Flat-topped and wide teets, which are used with wide bottles, are designed to feel more like a real breast and are ideal for making the switch from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding. Just like the range of teets, they also come in a range of sizes and flow speeds. Newborns usually need the smallest size which offers the slowest flow. As they grow, they will require faster flows as they learn to suck more effectively.

Don’t be concerned if your baby doesn’t follow these guidelines exactly. You may have to try a few different nipple sizes to find one that works best for your baby. Your midwife or health visitor can help you to choose if you need, while talking to other parents about their preferences and experiences can also help.

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