The 8 best baby bottles for 2020
Whether you’re expressing milk, formula feeding or any combination of the two, you’ll need to stock up on baby bottles. After three months of research and thorough testing by parents, here are our top recommendations for which baby feeding bottle to buy in 2020.
Bottles come in a variety of designs, price points and functionalities, which can be overwhelming for a new parent at a vulnerable time.
So which baby bottle is best? While different babies prefer different bottles – and it’s definitely worth trying another if one design hasn’t stuck – we can tell you which ones wash well, won’t leak in your changing bag and are easy to make up at 4am. Keep reading for our review of 2020’s highest performers.
Short on time?
How we chose the products to test
We commissioned Rachel Jeffcoat, a writer and mum of three, to research and review the top bottles out there.
As a parent to an eight-, six- and two-year-old, all of whom were combination-fed as babies, Rachel has years of experience using a wide variety of baby equipment, including baby bottles. As a writer, she’s written extensively on parenthood, including Mumsnet’s last round of stair gate and highchair reviews.
Rachel spent 10 hours researching the current bottle market. She investigated design innovations and materials, scoured the market for cutting-edge new brands alongside old established favourites, collated Amazon, Mothercare and Which? bestsellers, and noted down fervent recommendations from the Mumsnet forums. She also sourced expert advice from The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative and the NHS.
Finally, she narrowed down her list of choices to 15 testing candidates from a range of brands and price points.
How real-life comparative testing makes Mumsnet Reviews unique
While all product reviews are subjective to some degree, we see the value in real-world, like-for-like comparative testing. For that reason we use a single tester who judges one product against another in their own kitchen.
Baby bottles are distinct among our review categories in that we don’t test the bottles with babies. Bottle use is so subjective that what works with one baby might not work with another, and we judged it unfair to expect one baby to switch between 15 bottles for several months.
As such, while our tester Katrĩna is an experienced mum of two, she didn’t use the bottles with her baby and we therefore won’t be offering advice on anti-colic effectiveness.
Instead, she spent several weeks washing bottles repeatedly, filling them, sterilising them, and testing their solidity and safety. She analysed instructions and online resources, and noted down information about materials and safety standards. She filled each bottle with boiling water and timed how long they could be held comfortably, measured any squirting hot water from the teat due to pressure escaping, dropped the bottles onto a hard floor to see whether they remained in one piece, and scrubbed each one hard with a new sponge to see if any of the markings came off.
Finally, we asked whether she’d buy another if the testing model broke: the million-dollar question when it comes to cost-effectiveness.
Following testing, all the products were scored on six areas: purchase and assembly, safety and stability, day-to-day usage, cleanliness, aesthetics and value for money.
Five products then were awarded a Mumsnet Best badge – these are the products that we feel offer the best value for most parents. We also gave honourable mentions to three others.
After collating the feedback and scores, the results are ready. Here are the best baby bottles to buy in 2020.
1. MAM Easy Start Anti-Colic: Best Baby Bottle 2020
“MAM bottles are the best. I think it's the shape of the teat which helps a baby to latch onto the bottle without gulping in too much air.”
“MAM bottles were excellent for my colicky baby.”
Universally beloved on our forums, this clever little bottle is self-sterilising, leak-proof and surprisingly budget-friendly.
The super-soft silicone teat has been designed with a flat shape intended to mimic the nipple when breastfeeding. A vented, removable base prevents the baby from swallowing too much air, and the self-sterilising function is great for travelling or for families with smaller kitchens.
A curved, ergonomic design with plastic bubbles for grip will help your baby to hold on herself when she’s ready, and the wide neck and clear volume markings, in both millilitres and fluid ounces, will likely prove a lifesaver in the bleary hours of the night.
In our solidity tests, the MAM Easy Start Anti-Colic held up brilliantly, emerging unscathed from being scrubbed with a new sponge and dropped repeatedly on a hard floor. Tipped upside down, the bottle only dripped a small amount of liquid (so won’t flood the cot when dropped) and it didn’t leak at all when tipped sideways or carried in a nappy bag.
Safety-wise, you don’t need to worry. The plastic bottle, base and lid are all made from BPA- and BPS-free plastic, and the teat is hygienic silicone, which doesn’t taste of anything and won’t degrade. The different teat sizes prevent too fast a flow, which eliminates any choking risk, and the plastic bubble design means it can be filled with boiling water and held without burning the fingers.
Available in 160ml or 260ml sizes, and in a range of colours and five teat flow rates, the MAM Easy Start Anti-Colic is adaptable over time as your baby grows. It’s compatible with the MAM manual and electric breast pumps too. All that and it’s one of the most inexpensive on the market – £13.99 for a set of two – meaning this worthy winner of our Best Baby Bottle 2020 award should stay with you for the long haul, without breaking the bank.
Good for parents who
- Travel, have a small kitchen or otherwise would prefer to sterilise in the microwave
- Have a compatible MAM breast pump, such as the MAM 2-in-1
- Need an anti-colic function for a baby suffering from colic
- Widely and inexpensively available in a range of bottle sizes
- Five teat sizes mean it can be used from birth until your toddler gives up the bottle
- Ergonomic bottle shape and teat intended to mimic breastfeeding
- Top and bottom can be dismantled for easier cleaning
- Can self-sterilise several at a time in the microwave
- Can leak if the top or bottom isn’t screwed on properly
- Extra parts (removable bottom and anti-colic rubber ring) make for slightly longer assembly
- Materials: BPA- and BPS-free plastic and silicone
- Age range: From birth onwards with size one teat. Teats come in sizes one to three for babies, then X (cross cut for faster flow) and non-spill (for self-feeding toddlers)
- Bottle sizes: 160ml and 260ml sizes
- Colours: Grey, blue, pink and yellow
- Retailers: Available from MAM and Mothercare among others
- Price: RRP £13.99 (two 260ml bottles) or several starter packs available
2. Lansinoh mOmma: Best Baby Bottle for Breastfed Babies 2020
“We tried EVERY bottle on the market then found the Lansinoh mOmma after a recommendation. It worked.”
Sturdily made with an exceptionally well-designed teat, 2018's Mumsnet Best winner keeps its spot in our top five.
The Lansinoh mOmma is, quite frankly, an indestructible bottle. There, we said it. Made from solid PP plastics, it’s a squat, curved shape that feels comfortable in the hand. It doesn’t show any damage after being scrubbed with a sponge and it doesn’t drip at all when held upside down or sideways or dropped onto a hard floor. Your little destructor will have no chance.
But it’s the silicone NaturalWave® teat that’s the mOmma’s big selling point. Designed to promote the baby’s natural peristaltic tongue movement when sucking, it’s beautifully soft and well shaped. Anecdotally (in reviews and on forums), it’s a brilliant bottle to introduce to a breastfed baby, especially if that baby has refused other bottles before.
Wide-necked and with clear ml/fl oz markings that won’t fade with repeated washing, it’s easy to make up at any time of the day or night. It fits in the vast majority of electric and microwave sterilisers and, with three parts (bottle, teat and collar), it’s quick to take apart and hand wash too. Just be aware that if you put it in the dishwasher on lasagne night, it will start to take on a rosier hue.
The plastic is BPA- and BPS-free, as is the silicone, so you can rest easy on that score. The air ventilation system in the teat is intended to reduce the amount of air swallowed by the baby and the teat is available in three different flow rates.
The bottles come in 160ml and 240ml varieties, and both are compatible with Lansinoh’s breast pumps.
And if you’d rather reduce the plastic content, Lansinoh have an identical model in glass, which scored equally well in our tests, showing no damage when dropped or pushed over. It’s more expensive than its fully plastic counterpart, but it’s easier to clean and, of course, more eco-friendly.
Good for parents who
- Prefer a minimalistic design
- Want to combine breastfeeding with expressing or bottle feeding
- Have a compatible Lansinoh breast pump
- Want to reduce their plastic consumption (for the glass version)
- Super soft, intelligently designed teat is good for combination feeding and expressing
- Robustly made and clearly marked
- Three-part design is easy to put together, take apart and clean
- Vented teat prevents baby from swallowing air and doesn’t leak when tipped
- Widely and inexpensively available from a range of suppliers
- Will discolour in a dishwasher with tomato sauce
- No other colours or designs available
- Glass version is more expensive than the plastic
- Materials: BPA- and BPS-free plastic and silicone
- Age range: From birth onwards with size one teat. Teats come in sizes one to three – largest size would still work for a toddler
- Bottle sizes: 160ml and 260ml sizes
- Colours: Purple
- Retailers: Available from Amazon, Boots, Mothercare and a range of other suppliers
- Price: RRP £11.99 (two 260ml bottles) or several starter packs available
3. Philips Avent Natural: Best Budget Baby Bottle 2020
“Our first two children had Avent bottles and they were great.”
Competitively priced for supermarkets and starter packs, the Philips Avent Natural isn’t just an emergency stand-by – it performs well long-term too.
If there comes a point in your parenting life where you make an emergency supermarket dash for new bottles, the Philips Avent is likely what you’ll find on the shelf. While it’s not the most innovatively designed or highest performing product we tested, this upgrade on Philips’ original Classic design isn’t nearly as basic as its price tag would suggest.
Firstly, the teat. The Philips Avent Natural has been designed, as most bottles are, with breastfed babies in mind, incorporating soft ‘petals’ in its wide base to make sucking easier and more intuitive. A twin valve in the teat and collar lets air into the bottle, reducing the amount your baby could swallow.
The teat comes in four well-signposted flow rates, from newborn to 12 months, and bottles come in four sizes – 60ml, 125ml, 260ml and 330ml. The Natural bottle is available by itself and in a variety of starter packs, and is also compatible with Philips breast pumps and some of their toddler drinking cups (check the cup accessories are compatible with Natural teats, not Classic, before you buy).
The BPA-free plastic is solid, so the bottle doesn’t feel cheap, and it doesn’t scratch or break when scrubbed or dropped from a height. It’s also dishwasher-safe. Be aware, though, that it does drip quite a bit when held upside down and it will get hot on the outside when filled with boiling water, so watch out for grabby older babies.
Aesthetics-wise, it’s a minimalist design that also comes in pink and blue with easy-to-read volume markings and a simple screw-on collar that can be assembled and disassembled in just a few seconds.
Good for parents who
- Need a solid performer compatible with a wide range of products on a fairly restricted budget
- Want to be able to get replacements and parts quickly, easily and inexpensively
- Robust and long-lasting, standing up well to knocks and repeated washing
- Fairly inexpensive and available in a variety of starter packs
- Compatible with Philips breast pumps, such as the Philips Avent manual pump, and some toddler drinking cups
- Easy to read, take apart and put together
- Drips significantly when held upside down and gets too hot to touch when filled with boiling water
- Isn’t compatible with all Philips toddler cups and, from user reviews, it’s not clear enough which toddler cups fit the Natural range and which the Classic range
- Teats only intended for up to 12 months
- Materials: BPA- and BPS-free plastic and silicone
- Age range: From birth onwards with newborn teat. Teats come in four sizes, intended to be used up to 12 months – newborn, one month plus, three months plus and six months plus
- Bottle sizes: 60ml, 125ml, 260ml and 330ml sizes
- Colours: White, pink and blue
- Retailers: Available from Amazon, Boots, Mothercare and most supermarkets
- Price: RRP £14.50 (two 260ml bottles) and starter packs often on sale
4. Pura Kiki: Best Eco-Friendly Baby Bottle 2020
“Thinking about environment, this is a plastic-free bottle with a really long life span. Just change the teat and you get a water bottle. Unbreakable.”
As eco-friendly living becomes ever more important, the eye-catching stainless steel Pura Kiki is a great – if somewhat limited – stride in the right direction.
Many families are trying to use more sustainable or recyclable materials in their home – but how to do this with baby equipment, which is almost universally made from hygienic, shatterproof plastics? Enter the Pura Kiki, one of the only completely plastic-free baby bottles on the market.
It’s a striking looking design: a stainless steel bottle that comes in three sizes (5oz, 9oz and 11oz), with a neon-bright silicone insulating cover, a steel collar and a silicone teat. The best news is that the same bottle can be used with a toddler drinking spout, a sports-bottle spout or a lid for snacks (all purchased separately), making the Kiki useful all the way to adulthood and beyond. Accordingly, the steel parts come with a lifetime warranty so you won’t be adding to your local landfill any time soon.
As a sustainable design, the Kiki ticks the right boxes. But it’s been created with a whole lifetime in mind and that lack of focus on the infant feeding stage sometimes shows. The teat, while it has an anti-colic vent and does come in two flow rates (slow and medium), is somewhat inflexible and plasticky, especially in comparison to the Lansinoh or the MAM models.
The volume markings are engraved on the inside of the bottle – not easy to squint at in the middle of the night – and, of course, the bottle isn’t compatible with any breast pumps and can’t go in a microwave steriliser. As a stainless steel pioneer in a plastic ecosystem, the Kiki won’t always fit in.
It’s safe and well made, however, and created with high-grade, hygienic materials. Assembling and disassembling is quick and easy, and all parts are dishwasher-safe. For an older or easy-going baby, it’s a great, responsible buy – long-lasting, unbreakable and – even in its hot pink colour – impeccably green.
Good for parents who
- Want to reduce their plastic use and buy responsibly
- Want to buy one bottle that can still be used as their child gets older
- Have an easy-going baby who doesn’t suffer from colic
- Completely plastic-free and eco-friendly
- Intended to be a transitional, lifetime bottle with additional toddler spout and sports bottle spout accessories (sold separately)
- Exceptionally robust
- Lifetime warranty
- Bright, eye-catching design
- Volume markings are only engraved on the inside of the bottle
- Stainless steel can’t be sterilised in the microwave
- Even with the protective sleeve, the bottle gets prohibitively hot when filled with boiling water
- Leaks a fair amount when tipped upside down
- Plasticky, somewhat inflexible teat better suited to older or unfussy babies
- Materials: Stainless steel with a silicone sleeve and teat
- Age range: From birth onwards with the slow flow teat and from three months onwards with a medium flow teat (toddler spout and sports bottle spout purchased separately)
- Bottle sizes: 5oz, 9oz and 11oz
- Colours: Aqua, pink, green and orange
- Retailers: Available on Kidly and Amazon
- Price: 11oz infant bottle for RRP £18
5. Hegen PCTO: Best Baby Bottle Starter Kit 2020
“We've just had our second child and, this time, we've gone for the Hegen bottles. They're fab! They work as bottles, storage pots, food pots for weaning and water bottles for older children. Well worth the money.”
It’s at the expensive end of the bottle market, but this high-quality, long-lasting model feels genuinely innovative – and it’s better value when you buy more than one.
Four-year-old baby brand Hegen has already made a splash in the baby equipment market since their 2015 launch. Their flagship bottle, the Hegen PCTO (Press to Close, Twist to Open) is more expensive than those from more established brands, but here’s the thing – it’s also really good.
Made from extra-tough PPSU plastics (usually used for medical appliances), the bottle is an unusual ‘soft square’ shape. It’s supposed to be easier for a baby to grip, but it also stacks neatly, one within another, when it’s empty and takes up less room than round containers when it’s full and stacked with others.
As the name implies, the collar presses on with a click and is removed by twisting, which in practice is quicker and easier than the more common baby bottle twisting mechanism. The teat has to align in a particular way with the collar, which caught our tester out a few times initially, but otherwise assembly and storage couldn’t be easier.
The teat is super-soft silicone, designed to be slightly off-centre so that babies can be fed from a more upright position, protecting them from recurrent ear infections. It’s also vented to minimise air swallowing and comes in four flow rates.
The materials proved to be robust in use, coming out unscathed from being scrubbed with a new sponge and dropped on the floor. Tipped upside down, the teat drips a little initially but then stops completely. In the hand, the Hegen feels like a high-quality, almost luxurious bottle – reliable, leak-proof and indestructible, which is reassuring when expressing that precious breastmilk.
Parents are encouraged to use the same bottle for expressing, storing and feeding milk to your baby, although this requires the purchase of additional accessories. Bottles come in three sizes (150ml, 240ml and 330ml), both compatible with a manual breast pump attachment for the Hegen pump.
Expressed milk or snacks can be sealed in the bottles using flat storage lids. There are also compatible drink spouts for adults or older children to use. You’ll save money buying packs of two or four. Or, if you’re feeling especially flush (or have a generous relative), the Complete Starter Kit will set you up with lids, teats and breast pump adaptors for four bottles in two different sizes.
Good for parents who
- Want a high-end, well-made product with a luxury feel
- Want to freeze breastmilk regularly
- Want a bottle that can be used beyond their baby’s feeding time
- Innovative soft square shape makes holding, cleaning and storage easier
- Press-to-close mechanism helps make up a bottle quickly
- Extra-tough bottle material is almost impossible to damage
- Off-centre teat designed to feed in a more upright position
- More expensive than its competitors, especially with extra purchases
- Comes in a great deal of plastic packaging
- As a product from a new brand, there aren’t a lot of compatible products
- Teat has to be in a particular position for correct assembly, which can be confusing
- Materials: BPA- and BPS-free plastics and silicone
- Age range: From birth onwards with a slow flow teat. Teats also come in slow, medium, fast and thick feed sizes
- Bottle sizes: 150ml, 240ml and 330ml
- Colours: Bottles are white but lids and drink spouts come in white, pink and green
- Retailers: Available from Amazon and manufacturer’s own website
- Price: 240ml bottle for £19.95 and starter kit for £96.95
6. Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature
“I like the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles.”
This entry-level crowd-pleaser continues to be a bestseller. Widely available, brilliantly inexpensive and supported by the vast Tommee Tippee ecosystem.
The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, just provide a decent bottle experience at a price affordable for most families. On those terms, it continues to succeed very well – it’s available at a huge variety of retailers, including most supermarkets, and six medium-sized bottles will set you back no more than your fortnightly nappy bill.
More good news – the wide bottle neck and built-in collar and teat make it easy to assemble and make up a feed. It’s dishwasher-safe, it's compatible with the Tommee Tippee range of breast pumps and sterilisers – also widely available and relatively inexpensive – and its curved shape makes it equally easy to hold and to hand wash.
It’s available in three sizes (150ml, 260ml and 340ml), four teat flows and an array of colours and designs, making it easy to personalise. The teat has an anti-colic vent and is designed to help the transition between breast and bottle.
It’s not as sturdy as its more expensive rivals, including the Lansinoh and the Hegen. Volume markings started to come off during our sponge scrubbing test and the drop test made a large mess on our tester’s kitchen floor. The BPA-free plastic also feels a little thinner than other bottles, which makes it hard to hold when very hot.
But for a bottle on a budget? Its continued ubiquity and popularity speak for themselves. The Closer to Nature does a really decent job, even if it might not be with you for the long haul.
Good for parents who
- Need a good number of bottles on a restricted budget
- Have a compatible Tommee Tippee breast pump or steriliser
- Very inexpensive and widely available in local stores
- Comes in a large variety of colours and sizes
- Dishwasher-safe and compatible with most sterilisers
- Less robust than more expensive competitors
- Silicone teat is not especially soft or innovatively designed
- Fell apart when dropped on the floor
- Materials: BPA- and BPS-free plastics and silicone
- Age range: From birth onwards with size one teat. Teats also come in sizes two, three and vari-flow, so the Closer to Nature can be used until your toddler gives up the bottle
- Bottle sizes: 150ml, 260ml and 340ml
- Colours: Many! Pink, blue and a rainbow-coloured set that includes turquoise, orange, blue, red, purple and yellow
- Retailers: Available from a variety of retailers including Amazon, Mothercare and most supermarkets
- Price: RRP £31.99 (six 260ml bottles)
7. Twistshake Bottle
“The Twistshake comes with a little formula container which is handy when feeding on the go. It also has a shaking ring for even mixing.”
Strikingly designed in an array of colours, prints and materials, this new bottle should brighten up anyone’s kitchen… and last forever, too.
Swedish children’s brand Twistshake have produced their take on a baby bottle and it’s a solidly made, aesthetically pleasing model that’s easy to use and gratifyingly inexpensive.
Designed with an extra-wide neck for easy cleaning and filling, it also comes with a formula powder tub (which can be stored inside the bottle when not in use) and a ‘mixer net’ component to mix the powder and water without clumping. Our tester was unconvinced about the value of this addition, but a bottle made with breast- and formula-feeding in mind might be useful if your baby is combination fed.
The bottle is made from a tough, BPA-free plastic, but also comes in stainless steel and glass models as well as a variety of cool patterns and colours, so you’re bound to find one that suits you.
Twistshake bottles come in three sizes (180ml, 260ml and 330ml) and teats in four flow rates. Once your baby gives up bottle feeding, there’s a toddler spout and a straw for children and adults available to buy separately. The teat comes with an anti-colic air valve and is fairly soft and flexible.
In practice, our tester found that the Twistshake was very robust, standing up well to scrubbing and dropping on the floor, but she did think that the straight-edged bottle shape might be hard for a smaller baby to grip.
Safety-wise, it’s made from high-grade, hygienic materials, and is dishwasher- and steriliser-safe (though if you have the stainless steel model, remember not to sterilise in the microwave). It’s not compatible with any breast pumps, unfortunately – often a downside of equipment from newer brands.
Good for parents who
- Want a hardwearing bottle in an eye-catching design
- Are intending to combination feed
- Would like to reduce their plastic use with steel or glass models
- Can convert to toddler cup or straw with additional parts purchased separately
- Good quality BPA-free plastic
- Comes with a container for formula if combination feeding
- Dishwasher- and steriliser-safe
- Very inexpensive considering its quality
- A little less support and compatibility with a newer brand
- In the white model we tested, measurements were also in white, so not as easy to see when the bottle was filled with milk
- Materials: BPA- and BPS-free plastics, and silicone
- Age range: From birth onwards with the small size teat. Teats also come in sizes medium, large and extra large so can be used until your toddler gives up the bottle (and thereafter, with additional spouts)
- Bottle sizes: 180ml, 260ml and 330ml sizes
- Colours: Six for the plastic model (pink, blue, red, copper, grey and champagne), 10 patterns for the stainless steel and seven for the glass (pink, blue, green, purple, white, black and grey)
- Retailers: Available from Amazon and the manufacturer’s website
- Price: One 260ml bottle costs approximately £9
8. Tommee Tippee Advanced Anti-Colic
“Tommee Tippee worked great for all three of my children.”
Tommee Tippee’s anti-colic bottle is as widely available as its Closer to Nature counterpart – and, despite the extra functions, it’s still within reach of most family budgets.
Almost all baby bottles now include some kind of anti-colic function – usually a valve to let out air bubbles or to help the air bypass the milk. Some bottles, however, have been specifically designed to help colicky babies and, of these, Tommee Tippee’s model is almost certainly the most budget-friendly.
Made from BPA-free plastics and fairly soft silicone, the bottle includes an air-removal system comprised of a straw, a venting wheel and a star-shaped valve. The idea is that air is sucked through the straw and released harmlessly at the bottom of the bottle, preventing it from entering the milk. As an added bonus, the straw is heat sensitive, turning pink when the feed is too hot.
The silicone teat is quite soft, wide and flexible, which should help to maintain the baby’s latch (just be aware that, while they look very similar, Advanced Anti-Colic bottles must be used with Advanced Anti-Colic teats, and can’t be swapped with the Closer to Nature kind).
The bottle comes in two sizes (160ml, 260ml) and three colours, and the teat can be bought in four flow rates, with the slowest suitable from birth.
With a six-part assembly, it takes longer to put together and take apart than other, simpler models, but this is fairly standard with anti-colic bottles. There’s a small cleaning brush provided to clean the venting straw and plenty of guidance online to help you get used to handling it. While the plastic is thinner than some models on the market (the Lansinoh, say, or the Twistshake), it held up well under our scrubbing and dropping tests. As part of the Tommee Tippee range, it’s compatible with all their breast pumps and sterilisers too.
Colic is so individual and so unfathomable that we can’t advise on whether this bottle would help your baby. But the Tommee Tippee Advanced Anti-Colic is well made, reliable and affordable, which is an excellent place to begin.
Good for parents who
- Have a colicky baby
- Are on a modest budget
- Want a bottle compatible with the Tommee Tippee range
- Widely available and fairly inexpensive
- Quite hardwearing with easy-to-read volume markings
- Heat-sensitive straw tells you when the milk is ready to drink
- The teat is not as soft and flexible as some – and while the wide teat base works for some babies, others prefer narrower shapes
- The six-part design is a faff to clean, sterilise and reassemble
- Materials: BPA- and BPS-free plastics and silicone
- Age range: From birth onwards with a zero months plus teat. Teats also come in sizes three months plus, six months plus and vari-flow
- Bottle sizes: 160ml and 260ml sizes
- Colours: Green, blue and pink
- Retailers: Available from Amazon, Mothercare, and a variety of other retailers including most supermarkets
- Price: RRP £17.99 (three 260ml bottles)
What you need to know about bottles
It’s unfortunate, but true – the time you’ll want to buy your first baby bottle is also likely to be the most vulnerable time in your life. Feeding your baby is such an emotional business that making sense of the vast range of designs and functionalities can seem impossible.
The first thing to remember is that different babies take to different bottles – one of the reasons we haven’t tested this equipment on a volunteer baby. So, if your little one doesn’t like one brand, do try another. You also might get on very well with a particular brand of breast pump and want to buy the matching bottle and use them together.
To help demystify that process to begin with, however, here’s some useful information.
What are the different types of bottle?
Anti-colic, natural feel, transitional…what does it all mean? Here’s a quick jargon-buster.
1. Natural feel
The WHO recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life and that breastfeeding continues where possible up to two years. Accordingly, bottle manufacturers invest a great deal of research into designing a teat that mimics breastfeeding as closely as possible, so you can express and bottle feed without nipple confusion.
All designs look a little different, but generally you should look for a soft silicone teat that your baby can latch onto without slipping off (if your baby doesn’t like the feel of silicone, NUK also make a latex version).
Almost all bottles on the market include anti-colic features. One of the potential causes of colic and reflux is swallowing too much air during feeds, so bottle designers include venting systems to reduce the amount of air that gets into the milk as the baby drinks.
Bottles with ‘anti-colic’ in their names are likely to have a more intricate system to get that pesky air out of the way – usually straws, weights and valves that are a pain to clean but might help your baby feel more comfortable.
You might see some bottles on the shelf that have an off-centre teat or are otherwise designed with an angled appearance.
They’re designed to help the baby drink while being as upright as possible as there’s some evidence that pressure in the bottle creates negative pressure in the mouth, causing fluid build-up in the middle ear when lying flat. This could potentially lead to ear infections.
Keeping your baby upright should minimise this and angled bottles make the correct positioning easier.
As our plastic use comes ever more under the microscope, some manufacturers are trying to provide plastic-free alternatives for baby bottles. Many brands make a glass version of their plastic bestseller (Lansinoh and NUK among them) and a new wave of eco-friendly brands are also designing bottles in stainless steel.
The existing baby equipment system isn’t really set up to be compatible with these sustainable interlopers. They’re more expensive, you won’t be able to use a connecting breast pump or sterilise them in the microwave, and the volume markings are sometimes tricky to read. But, if you’re trying to do your bit for the planet, this might be a good place to start.
Often this category of bottles overlaps with the eco-friendly category. They are bottles designed to last long after the baby years, to toddlerhood and often beyond.
Usually this means using the bottle with an alternative top – a sippy spout for a toddler and an adult bottle top for an older child, which you’ll probably need to buy separately. Bottles that can do this (Hegen, Twistshake and Pura Kiki, for example) tend to be made of tough, long-lasting materials – a fact often reflected in their price.
How much do bottles cost?
It varies tremendously between brands. Many plastic bottles are very competitively priced, especially if an online retailer is having a sale, so keep an eye out for useful reductions.
Starter kits can also be a good way of getting more for your money, though look carefully at what’s included. If you don’t think you’ll use everything in there, it’s probably not good value for you. Generally, plastic bottles start at about £5 per bottle up to £20-£30 for the higher-end luxe brands. Glass and stainless steel models will also be more, again between £20-£30 per bottle.
How many bottles do I need for my baby?
Most lactation experts recommend six bottles in rotation for daily full-time feeding. However, if you’re combination feeding or just occasionally expressing, you’ll be able to get away with two to four, depending on how often you use them.
As a rule of thumb, buy how many bottles you think you’d need for a 12-hour period so you’re not constantly washing and sterilising them – life with a new baby is busy enough.
What size bottle and teat should I buy?
Bottles almost always come in more than one size. While the smallest size might look most appropriate for a newborn, it’s actually the teat flow that matters most. We’d recommend buying the next bottle size up because your baby will be drinking more milk before you know it, and you don’t want to have to replace the bottles too soon. Plus, it’s important to be sure that your baby is feeding till they’re properly full.
Teat flow sizes are designed to stop a small baby choking on milk coming out faster than they can swallow and larger babies from having to work too hard to suck milk out of a small hole.
Many brands use approximate age ranges to label their teats, but only use these as a guide. Generally, if your baby takes longer than 20 minutes to finish a feed, falls asleep regularly while feeding or tugs at the teat while feeding, it may be a sign that they’re ready for the next size up.
What makes a bottle safe?
First, check that the bottle has complied with the relevant EU safety legislation, EN:14350, which gives specifications for children’s drinking equipment. This can usually be found on the bottle box or the manufacturer’s website.
Plastic bottles should now be made from BPA- and BPS-free plastics – both chemicals can reportedly leach into food and drink and affect the body – which should also be obvious on the label.
Keep an eye on the silicone teats. If they degrade, get damaged or are bitten through, they’ll need replacing immediately so as not to present a choking hazard.
As you use the bottle, don’t put the teat on too soon after filling with boiling water. The build-up of pressure can squirt hot water out of the teat and present a hazard.
The small parts found in an anti-colic bottle should, of course, be kept out of baby’s reach.
Anything else to look for?
Pay attention to the body of the bottle. What shape and size is it? Does it look like it would fit comfortably in your hand and be easy for your baby to hold too, when ready?
How wide is the bottle neck? If you’re combination-feeding, a wide neck will stop late-night powder spillages. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want every drop of breastmilk to be collected safely.
Look too at the volume markings on the side. Are they clear and easy to read? This will become much more important at 4am – trust us.
How do I make up a bottle?
If you’re expressing breastmilk into a bottle, it can be used to feed your baby immediately or stored for later use. The NHS mandates that breastmilk can be kept in a fridge at 4°C or lower for four days (three days if you’re not sure what temperature your fridge is). It can also be frozen and kept for up to six months.
When defrosting breastmilk, it’s best to do it slowly in a fridge – though, if you can’t wait, you can hold it under warm running water or put it in a jug of warm water. You can warm up fridge-cold milk the same way if your baby prefers it warm. Once defrosted, any leftovers can’t be kept for later or refrozen.
When formula feeding, boil fresh tap water and leave it to cool a little (no longer than 30 minutes) before pouring into the clean, sterilised bottle. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly to add the right amount of powder, then put on the teat and lid and shake to combine. You can cool the bottle so it’s safe to drink by standing it in cold water or holding it under cold running water with the lid on. Don’t use bottled or reboiled water and don’t make up more than one feed at once.
How do I bottle-feed my baby?
After you’ve prepared a bottle and checked the temperature is safe (check it on your own wrist to make sure it’s not too hot), sit comfortably with them in your arms. The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative recommends that you “hold baby close in a semi-upright position so you can see their face, and reassure them by looking into their eyes and talking to them during the feed.” Sitting them upright also has the advantage of helping to prevent fluid build-up in the middle ear. Brush the bottle teat against their lips and let them suck on it when they open their mouth.
Keep an eye on the teat to make sure it’s always full of milk, not air (this helps prevent swallowing too much air, which can lead to reflux or colic). If the pressure in the bottle builds up so the teat goes flat, the NHS recommends inserting a little finger gently in the corner of your baby’s mouth to release it.
According, again, to the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative, “offering the bottle in response to feeding cues, gently inviting the baby to take the teat, pacing the feeds and avoiding forcing the baby to finish the feed can all help to make the experience as acceptable and stress-free for the baby as possible.”
After the feed (or halfway through if you prefer), sit your baby up and gently pat their back to bring up any wind.
Don’t forget to throw away any leftover milk and to clean the bottle afterwards.
How do I clean a bottle?
According to the NHS, all baby equipment should be sterilised before use for the first 12 months to protect against infections.
After a bottle has been used, dismantle it and either handwash with hot soapy water or put it in the dishwasher if it’s labelled dishwasher-safe. If the bottle includes small parts, make sure they’re thoroughly cleaned before reuse. Make sure you wash your bottle after every use.
After rinsing, you can also sterilise the bottle parts using whatever method you prefer: cold water, microwave or electric steam. Some bottles (the MAM Easy Start, for example) have been designed to self-sterilise in the microwave. If so, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Once sterilised, leave the bottles inside the steriliser until they’re needed and make sure you have clean hands when you assemble them.
When should I replace baby bottles?
There’s no official guidance about this, though manufacturers might advise how often to replace teats – usually every three months or so.
For the bottle itself, watch out for chips, cracks and discolouration that isn’t from lasagne night, all of which could present a danger or indicate that the material is damaged.
For the teat, check often for wear and tear, weakening patches or bitten-through ends, and replace as soon as you find any. As with all baby equipment, it’s much better to err on the side of caution.
Related: Read our baby bottles buyer's guide
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