MS, RD, LDN, CSSD, CBS
Rachel holds a Master’s in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University and is also a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She works as a nutrition and wellness coach with focuses on infant and maternal nutrition, mindful eating, and weight loss.
Whether you’re feeding your little one formula or expressed breast milk (exclusively or simply when you’re away from your baby), navigating the wide selection of bottles and nipples can be a daunting task. As every baby (and mama!) is different, bottles and nipples are certainly not one-size-fits-all. It may take some experimenting to find what works best for you and your baby.
Many moms are switching to glass bottles because of concerns about chemicals found in plastic ones. Glass may seem impractical for a baby – it tends to be heavy for little hands (not to mention for carting around town) and more likely to break – but you can purchase protective sleeves so they are easier to grip and less likely to shatter if (and when!) they drop.
Know, however, that the FDA no longer allows the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, so what was once a major concern when it came to plastic bottles is no longer an issue. With any type of plastic, avoid microwaving, and discard if the bottle turns cloudy.
Silicon is a third option. Newer companies are utilizing silicon to avoid lingering fears over plastic as well as the impracticalities of glass.
There are also stainless-steel bottles available, though these are more expensive and difficult to find. While they are durable, it is difficult to see how much milk is in the bottle.
Bottles typically come in 4-ounce and 8-ounce sizes. Start small when your baby is a newborn and use larger bottles once your baby starts to consume more milk at each feeding.
Most nipples are made of clear silicone, which are flexible and not damaged by heat when washed or boiled. However, some nipples are made with latex, which could cause an allergic reaction in sensitive infants, so it’s best to avoid these.
Nipples are designed to imitate a mother’s nipple and are available in different shapes. Standard nipples are long with a narrow base and are typically easy for baby to use. Other nipples have a wider base with varying nipple lengths. Often times, babies who are breastfeeding will prefer the wider-based nipples, but you may have to do some experimenting to learn your baby’s preference.
Nipple Flow Rates
Bottle nipples come with different-sized openings for milk to flow through. Nipples are labeled with level numbers indicating the flow rate, with a “level 1” nipple being the slowest (smallest opening) and a “level 4” being the fastest (largest opening). Most newborns will do well with a “level 1” nipple. But, all babies are different, so if your baby is frustrated with a slower feeding pace, try switching to a “level 2” nipple. As your little one continues to grow and becomes even more efficient at feeding, she can graduate to the next nipple level – typically every 3 months.
Try a variety of bottles and nipples
Babies can be quite picky about the bottle and nipple they prefer, so avoid buying one type of bottle in bulk. Instead, purchase a few different kinds of bottles and nipples that fit together.
Test a bottle a few times before moving on
Start with one type of bottle and allow your babe to try it several times – don’t give up if your little one rejects it the first time. Give your baby enough chances to try one type of bottle or nipple before switching to a new one since constantly changing could lead to even more frustration.
It may take some experimenting before deciding which bottle and nipple works best for your baby.