When I first started having kids, I was on the breastfeeding bandwagon. I wanted to do everything I could to be as natural as possible. Unfortunately, my body and my little bundle of joy did not agree with me.
That led me to bottle feeding. I never thought about considering the safety of the materials in the bottle I purchased. Like many moms, I assumed that if it was on the shelf, especially if marketed for babies, then it should be safe. As I later found out, that was the wrong assumption. Here is some of what I have learned about non-toxic baby bottles.
The Best Options for Babies
As you consider what is right for your infant’s feeding needs, consider this. Every plastic is made of chemicals. While BPA is the most widely known of the chemicals having received a lot of press lately, it certainly is not the only one with which to be cautious.
In a perfect world, where safety trumps every other consideration, you would really want to choose glass. I have written previously about the best glass options that are available and why you would want to choose them. The second-best choice to glass is stainless steel.
However, we do not live in a perfect world, and plastic is still a very viable option for some.
Why You May Still Want Plastic
Plastic does have many advantages to glass, and many moms still choose to use them, even if just as a secondary option.
Firstly, it is incredibly lighter than glass. When you consider the weight of all that you have to lug around in the diaper bag, adding glass just adds more weight unnecessarily.
Secondly, they are often a cheaper option than glass or stainless steel bottles.
Thirdly, they do not break the way that glass does. Sure, you can get silicone sleeves to cover the bottle, and that does add a little protection. But when your little munchkin turns into a professional pitcher, those silicone sleeves will not do much.
What To Consider When Buying Plastic
First, the FDA has banned the use of BPA in bottle and sippy cup manufacturing. If you buy them new, you should be safe from BPA. However, if you purchase them used, or even if they are new but manufactured before 2013, they may want to check them.
When you look to see what kind of plastic they are made from, look for the number seven. This would indicate the use of polycarbonate, which likely means it has BPA in it, so steer clear of those.
Beyond that, you want to be careful of other chemicals that may not be clear and easy to identify. This includes BPS and phthalates, just to name a few. BPS is a replacement for BPA and has no significant data to suggest it is any safer. Plastic products have phthalates to help increase their durability and flexibility.
Few Safety Considerations for Using Plastic
There are a few things to keep in mind to make the use of plastic safer for your little one.
- Avoid heating liquid in the bottle, or even putting hot liquids in it. The warmer the liquid, the more excited the plastic molecules become, releasing chemicals into the liquid.
- Avoid storing breast milk in plastic. The composition of breast milk accelerates how quickly the plastic breaks down, again leeching into your milk.
- Be careful about what nipples you choose. Latex nipples, for example, can cause allergic reactions. The best currently on the market are made of silicone.
Quality Plastic Baby Bottles
So what ones would I choose? Let me share with you some good options.
Dr. Browns is probably one of the best-known names in infant feeding. They had a revolutionary design with their venting tubes that moved more manufacturers to look at how to reduce the air while feeding.
One of the challenges faced by moms who want to pump and bottle feed is the degradation of the milk due to oxidation. Some of the nutrients in breast milk start breaking down with pre presence of oxygen. Lab tests with the Dr. Brown’s vents showed less oxidation and higher nutrient concentration than in other standard options.
For being a plastic bottle with plastic parts, these put forth a strong case for why to use them.
- Great system for helping keep breastmilk fresh and reduce air ingestion
- The bottle works with most breast pump systems
- The naturally shaped nipple that does not tend to collapse
- The venting system works on other bottles with the same size neck
- It does have a lot of parts to clean where milk can hide and build-up
- It is top-heavy and may tip over easily
- Measuring lines are very difficult to see, especially in a low light setting
- Will leak when not standing upright or not assembled correctly
Tommee Tippee is a trusted name in quality infant products, and I have used a number of their products over the years. The real story behind this particular option is not the bottle itself but the nipple.
In terms of the bottle itself, it is BPA free and also free of phthalates. They are also small, only 9oz, so perfect for really little ones.
The nipple though, that is the magic on this bottle set. This silicone nipple closely replicates the human nipple. It also has a good venting system, reducing the amount of air that swallowed while feeding. This helps to reduce colic and reflux.
- Crystal clear bottle with great fluid markings
- Silicone nipple designed to replicate human nipple
- The simple bottle design with only a few parts is easy to clean
- The small design makes it easy for little ones to grasp and practice holding
- Moderately priced option
- The nipple is pretty flexible, to the point of collapsing under a strong suck
- The markings tend to rub off rather quickly, making it difficult to continue using if you need to measure your fluid
NUK is another well-known brand in infant products. They are probably better known for their pacifiers, teething products, and feeding implements like utensils, bowls, and plates.
The Simple Natural model is another model with nipples designed to help moms wanting to combination breastfeed and bottle feed. Like the Tommee Tippee, the nipple design also mimics the human nipple.
What sets this nipple apart from other options is how it controls the flow. Most nipples have only one hole, and the diameter of the whole controls the flow. NUK took the design from humans, where the milk excretes through multiple parts of the nipple, not one central opening. The greater the flow, the more holes the nipple has. Simple, elegant in concept, and unique among baby products.
- The bottle is pretty standard, nothing too fancy about it
- Nipple design is unique with a good concept
- The cheapest option for natural feel bottles
- The venting is too effective, allowing too much flow even in restricted nipples
- The bottle is a little fragile, easily cracking if tossed to the hard ground
- Vent tends to leak if the bottle tips too far up
- Liquid level markings are hard to read with white milk/formula in it
Comotomo is breaking the mold of the plastic bottle, they are not using plastic at all. Rather, their entire bottle is made from flexible silicone. This means it is free of BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates.
The design is also a wide mouth design for easy filling and cleaning. The nipple does have dual anti-colic vents to help cut down on feeding discomfort. It is also safe to clean in the dishwasher as well as by hand or with boiling water. The silicone is less temperature-sensitive, not weakening as you wash and sterilize it. You also get a couple of color options for the nipple ring.
- Helps correct nipple confusion thanks to its smart design
- Vented yet easy to clean
- Made from silicone for a soft and squishy grip
- Free from BPA , PVC, and phthalate
- ‘Y’ cut design on the nipple for variable feed
- The odd shape does not fit into most bottle warmers
- More expensive option
- May experience some leakage
Philips is such a broad company, it is no surprise they also have a bottle line. Avent is their infant product brand. These are BPA free being made of polypropylene. They also have a wide mouth, making it easy to add liquid and clean.
The silicone nipple has a wide base as well, mimicking the action feel and oral action of a human breast and nipple. It also has a venting system to take air back into the bottle rather than down the digestive tract.
They have some color options, so you do not have to take just a clear bottle.
- A wide-mouth bottle makes it easy to fill and clean
- Wide nipple mimics the human breast
- Easy-to-read measuring lines
- Bottle venting to put air back in the bottle
- Tends to create a lot of suction and collapse nipple
- Nipple tends to leak
- Wide mouth prevents replacing with non-Avent nipples
- On the more expensive side
Which is My Favorite?
Of all of these options, my favorite is the Dr. Browns Original. There were a few other options I really wanted to like, but there were many things that stood out to me. First, they offer the most flexibility on how to use their system. I can use a different nipple on their bottle. The bottle is not flimsy plastic that easily cracks. I can choose to use the full vent or some parts of it. It is reasonably priced. Finally, it helps cut down on reflux with my little, which is a huge plus for us.