Unless you’re available to breastfeed 24/7, you’re probably going to need bottles. Whether they’re full of breast milk or formula is up to you—and what kind you end up using is pretty much up to your baby.
There are a myriad of combinations of bottles and nipples, including different shapes and materials for both. Will your baby like a bent-neck plastic bottle with a realistic silicone nipple? Or will he prefer a straight-neck disposable bottle with a traditional latex nipple?
All babies are different, and they’ll actually have clear preferences, easily taking to some bottles and not to others. It will soon become clear that your baby is the ultimate decision maker, so don’t over-invest in any one approach until you’ve figured out what works.
YOUR BASIC CHOICES
There are plenty of options, and we’ll cover those in a minute. But the first decision to be made is what style of bottle you want.
Reusable Plastic Bottles
Reusable plastic baby bottles get filled, used, cleaned, and used again. The most popular choice among parents, these bottles don’t break, are typically less expensive, and are easy to find. For a healthier option, choose a BPA-free bottle made of polypropene.
This option consists of a non-disposable holder and disposable bags. Though less ecologically sound, this is a more convenient choice for quick cleanup. And, if you have a breast pump that uses a disposable-bottle system, you can transfer your milk from pump to bottle without losing a drop.
An alternative to plastics, food-safe silicone bottles are a growing trend in the baby bottle market. Silicone is a non-toxic polymer made from sand (known as silica). Their rubber-like bodies are able to withstand going from freezer to heating without breaking or leaking off any harmful chemicals, and they’re odor- and stain-resistant.
Reusable Glass Bottles
There’s a growing population that believes glass baby bottles are healthier for delivering milk. Of course, the drawback with glass – even tempered for use by babies — is that it’s both easier to break and heavier. Where you stand in this debate is 100 percent personal. Ask your pediatrician if you want an expert opinion.
The ideal nipple for your baby is typically defined by her age (although some doctors advise breast-feeding moms to stick with a first-stage nipple). Part of the equation is the size of the nipple, but flow rate is also an important factor. You can either buy different nipples for different stages, or find nipples that adjust accordingly.
Start with the choices that fit your personal lifestyle and philosophy, but be flexible and try out different bottle/nipple combinations. There’s no point in pushing what doesn’t work. In the end, your favorite will be the one your child takes to the most.
Another important thing to keep in mind: nothing will drive you crazier than a bottle that leaks, so make sure the brand you choose seals well before you stock up.