Nourishing your baby is such a special and intimate way of bonding, no matter whether you plan to breastfeed, pump breastmilk, formula feed – or use a combination of the three. Here is a guide to choosing the best non-toxic baby bottles and bottle-feeding supplies.
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Why Choose Non-Toxic Baby Bottles?
When it comes to choosing BPA-free baby bottles, I feel strongly that parents should avoid using plastic baby bottles because even plastic BPA-free bottles contain many harmful chemicals that can easily leach into the bottle’s contents. Given how frequently your baby will be given a bottle, and given that milk or formula are served warm, plastic bottles are simply not worth the risk. The best non-toxic baby bottles are glass bottles, which make a perfect alternative to plastic – glass is naturally free of BPA, phthalates, and lead. The great news is that you have lots of choices.
My Picks for the Best Non-Toxic Baby Bottles:
Philips AVENT Natural Glass Bottles: Philips Avent bottles come with a breast-shaped nipple that is also designed to prevent babies from swallowing air to reduce colic and gas. Philips offers various nipple flow options that are designed to slow down or speed up baby’s intake of milk, based on their age and needs. The bottle itself has an ergonomic design, which makes it easy and comfortable to hold. You can also purchase a silicone sleeve to help with gripping the bottle, and to prevent heat transfer and bottle breakage. When your little one gets old enough to start gripping the bottle, you can add on trainer handles to help them grip the bottle. (Note: do not give your baby a bottle in their crib.) These bottles also come in an 8 oz. version.
Dr. Brown’s Glass Bottles: Designed to be anti-colic, Dr. Brown’s are a popular choice among parents. Many lactation specialists also recommend this brand because their nipples provide the best flow for newborns and preemies. (Hint: if you’re nursing and giving baby expressed milk in a bottle, try the preemie flow nipples for your newborn to slow down the flow to best match the natural flow of your breasts.) These are the bottles that we used, and I was mostly happy with them except for a few complaints: the anti-colic parts are made from plastic, are difficult to wash, and sometimes leak. Based on this, you might be wondering why I put up with these bottles or why I would recommend them. The answer is simple – they do a good job of reducing air intake, which helps babies who are prone to colic, reflux, or gas. If your baby experiences colic, gas, or just a lot of discomfort in his early days, you may want to try Dr. Brown’s Bottles. Dr. Brown’s also sells silicone sleeves for their bottles. These bottles also come in an 8 oz. version, with silicone sleeves.
Lifefactory Glass Baby Bottles: Lifefactory bottles are highly durable and can be used in the freezer because they’re made from thermal shock-resistant borosilicate glass (sourced from France). Each of these bottles comes with its own medical-grade silicone sleeve and stage 1 silicone nipple for newborns (age 0-3 months). While the Lifefactory bottles are a bit on the expensive side, they are comparable to other brands when you factor in the additional cost of the silicone sleeves, and Lifefactory bottles make a good investment because they transition to sippy cups for when your baby gets older. All parts are made in the US or in Europe, and are BPA/BPS-free and phthalate-free. To wash, you simply remove the sleeve (when desired) and wash both the bottle and the sleeve in the dishwasher or boil both parts on the stove. This brand is fast growing in popularity and is definitely worth being considered. These bottles are also sold in a set of 4. (Note: some parents have reported poor ventilation with these bottles. If you experience some issues with this, including gassiness or fussiness, you may be able to use the Dr. Brown’s anti-colic venting insert with these bottles. It’s a hack that might be worth trying because the quality of the Lifefactory bottles is superior to the Dr. Brown’s bottles.) These bottles also come in a 9 oz version.
Lollaland Glass Baby Bottles: These bottles are lightweight but sturdy, made of highly durable borosilicate glass. The nipples are made from medical-grade silicone, and have an anti-colic ventilation channel that reduces your baby’s intake of unwanted air and equalizes the pressure inside the bottle. They also fit Medela breast pumps, so you can pump right into the bottle if desired (!!). These bottles are made from high-quality materials in Germany and are quite adorable, so for all of these reasons they too are growing in popularity. They don’t currently make a silicone sleeve for the Lollaland bottles, but it’s not essential – especially when your little one is young. This bottle and all its parts are free of BPA, BPS, and phthalates. They also come in an 8 oz. version.
Some Helpful Tips for Buying Baby Bottles:
- Quantity. Be prepared to try more than one brand of baby bottle in the event your baby doesn’t take well to the one brand you prefer. Be patient and gently keep trying, even when your baby refuses a specific brand of bottle.
- When to Give a Bottle. Most lactation consultants will advise moms to begin introducing a bottle at around 4-6 weeks of age, which is long enough to prevent nipple confusion and also early enough in baby’s life to ensure that they will accept a bottle.
- Bottle Size. Most newborns will only need a 4 oz. bottle at first, but you can graduate to the larger 8 oz. sizes if your baby continues to take a bottle as they get older. If you’ll be giving any formula, you might find it easier to use wide-mouth bottles like the ones made by Philips Avent.
- Nipple Flow. Unless your doctor or lactation specialist has recommended otherwise, start your newborn with the slowest flow nipple available by the bottle manufacturer you’ve chosen. As your baby grows, you can transition to the age-appropriate nipples, which will gradually provide a faster flow. Almost every lactation specialist I spoke with recommended Dr. Brown’s Preemie Nipples.
In addition to buying non-toxic baby bottles, you may need some of these additional products when bottle-feeding.
Bottle Drying Racks:
If you’ll be hand-washing bottle and breast pump parts (hint: you will be), you’ll want to have a bottle drying rack on hand — or a good dish rack. This is one category of baby products that hasn’t yet been perfected, so the options are pretty limited and unfortunately leave much to be desired. (The Boon grass-like drying rack is very popular but is poorly designed – it’s a breeding ground for bacteria and gunk, so I strongly recommend against this popular choice.)
Consider the Munchkin High Capacity Drying Rack, which can store up to 16 bottles and gets good reviews for being sturdy, having a handy drain and flexible prongs, and being able to store many bottles and parts at the same time.
Parents also love the Munchkin Sprout Drying Rack, which can hold up to 12 bottles, rotates, and has a drip tray at the bottom.
OXO’s Tot Bottle and Accessories Drying Rack gets great reviews for its convenient design and sturdiness. OXO also makes a travel version of the drying rack that we like to take along with us for family trips.
Most babies prefer their milk or formula warm, so you may want to have a bottle warmer on hand. You can also run a bottle under warm water to heat up the milk, but the advantage of using a bottle warmer is that you can multitask — just insert the bottle, turn the warmer on, and come back in a few minutes to a warm bottle. It mostly comes down to preference. My husband preferred to warm bottles in the sink, while I preferred the warmer.
We chose the Born Free Bottle Warmer and Cooler, and were quite happy with it. You have to fill it with water every day or two, choose the right heating settings based on the type of bottle (glass or plastic, but please don’t use plastic bottles) and the volume of milk, and it will warm up a bottle within 2-3 minutes. It also has a cooler and ice pack for keeping bottles cool overnight, which is nice if you are bottle-feeding at night because it saves you a trip to the kitchen.
Baby Bottle Brushes:
One item that many new parents forget to purchase is a bottle brush. While it’s important to sanitize your bottles before their first use, this isn’t necessary on a daily basis (unless medically advised), so you’ll want to have some bottle brushes on hand to help you keep your baby’s bottles clean. I prefer one that will stand on its own with a suction cup, and Dr. Brown’s Bottle Brush is a good option for most bottles, and so is the Munchkin Bristle Bottle Brush, although it may not fit all bottles. The Munchkin brush is dishwasher safe, so that makes it a big win in my book! Both options come with a smaller brush for cleaning nipples, straws, and breast pump parts, but I would also recommend having the Munchkin Cleaning Brush Set on hand, too.
This is one piece of baby equipment that you can skip. When you sanitize bottles and pacifiers, all you need to do is throw them in some boiling water on the stove for 3-5 minutes (follow the manufacturer’s recommendation). Glass bottles can also be sterilized in the dishwasher. There’s really no need to purchase additional equipment unless your pediatrician has recommended sterilizing baby’s bottles before each use for medical reasons, in which case you might need the extra equipment. Just make sure to avoid any sterilization techniques that involve your microwave, as it is not only unsafe to heat plastic in the microwave, it’s best to avoid microwave use and exposure whenever possible.
Instead, consider the Philips AVENT 3-in-1 Electric Steam Sterilizer, which runs at a higher temperature than dishwashers, works in 6 minutes, has an automatic shut-off, and keeps items sterilize for up to 24 hours if the lid remains unopened. Alternatively, the Wabi Baby Electric Steam Sterilizer and Dryer also includes a hot air drying feature, so you don’t have to air-dry your sterilized parts on a drying rack (which defeats the point of sterilization). This could be a great feature for parents with babies that need extra care and attention for medical reasons. Please be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your sterilizer.