Baby bottles can be an indispensable addition to your baby equipment, used by exclusively breastfeeding, combination feeding and formula feeding parents. Choosing a bottle type is hugely subjective, and if your baby dislikes one type it’s always worth trying another. However, these are some things to bear in mind before diving in.
When might you need one?
When exclusively breastfeeding, bottles can be used to feed your baby expressed milk. When combination or formula feeding, they’re an essential part of your feeding routine.
Bottles are particularly useful in allowing other family members to help feed your new arrival: often a necessity after a return to work, but also a big advantage during night feeds, travel or just when the mother needs a couple of hours alone to maintain her sanity!
Things to consider
Breast or formula?
Some bottles, like the Medela Calma (our Mumsnet Best Bottle for Newborns 2017), have been designed specifically for breastmilk; most others can be used for either feeding type. If you’re breastfeeding, you could consider using bottles that are compatible with a breastpump you like (or the other way around): most bottles can be attached directly to a breastpump, then all you need to do is screw on the teat and it’s ready to drink.
If you’re combination or formula feeding, look for bottles with wider necks (to add powder without spilling) and teats that can handle thicker milk without collecting in nooks and crannies. The NUK First Choice+, the Lansinoh mOmma and the Philips Avent range (available to buy here), for example, all cope well with both types of milk.
Most branded bottles on the market sit around the £5-£8 per bottle mark, and almost all are available in packs of more than one. If you’re planning to use bottles regularly, you’ll certainly need a decent stash – four at a minimum, we’d say, unless you want to spend a lot of time washing up – so look for deals that include multiple bottles. Mothercare, Boots, Amazon and larger supermarkets are good places to start.
Keep an eye on bottle size, too: while a smaller 5oz model will suit your baby for the first three months or so, they’ll be hungrier after that. So the larger volume sizes are usually a better investment, even if they cost a little more.
At the top end of the market are the bottles specifically engineered for a purpose: the Medela Calma (intended for breastfeeding) at £15.99 for one small bottle, and the Pura Kiki (designed plastic-free) at £15.00 for the smaller size.
Design and price vary between brands, but almost all brands attempt to replicate breastfeeding patterns in their teat design, and include some kind of anti-colic technology.
While it’s rare for a bottle not to make some gesture towards anti-colic features, some definitely work better than others (and what works for one baby might not work for another). Whatever they look like, all anti-colic designs aim to reduce the amount of air a baby ingests while feeding, so their efficacy will depend largely on where the air is directed within the bottle, and on the kind of latch your baby achieves with each teat.
While we’ve tested each bottle for air ingestion, looked for consensus online and decided on our favourite, don’t forget to spend a little time researching online yourself. Mumsnet Talk has many threads dedicated to colicky babies: apart from good places to ask for recommendations, these can also be great sources of support at a difficult time.
Snuggling with a bottle is every bit as delightful as snuggling while breastfeeding. And the enormous advantage of bottle feeding is that it need not be the mother all the time.
Almost all bottles are designed with teats of variable flow, to keep up with your baby’s appetite as they grow. When buying bottles, look at what type of teat is included and how old your baby is: newborns will almost always start with the slowest flow teat, and depending on the brand they’ll want to move up to the next one between four and six months later. How much do the extra teats cost? How many are included in each pack?
There are also many gift sets that include combinations of small and large bottles, pacifiers, toddler cups or teething rings. These are worth following up only if the price makes the bottles a good deal; unless you already know your baby likes the added extras, it’s much easier to buy other things separately according to the brand and timing that suits them best.
- Is there a breastpump that fits this bottle? Is it affordable/one that you like?
- What is the age range for the starter teat? How much do the replacement teats cost?
- Does the lid stay on well or come off easily?
- Is the neck wide enough for easy cleaning/adding formula powder?
- Are the markings clear and easy to read?
- Will the bottles fit easily into your changing bag?
So which feeding bottle is best for your baby? Take a look at our top baby feeding bottles to help you decide.