Whether you are breastfeeding (BF) or formula-feeding (FF), you need some bottles. Yes, even nursing moms who exclusively breastfeed (EBF) need bottles… unless you want to be tethered to your baby for months on end. In this article we’ll discuss the best baby bottles for your little one.
Don’t wait too long to offer a bottle to your breastfed baby, lest you lose your window of opportunity. It can be a disaster situation when a baby definitively refuses to take a bottle (I don’t care what Lactation Consultants (LCs) say, talk to enough parents and pediatricians and you will learn otherwise).
We’re going for practicality, here, people — not fantasy parenting perfection.
Baby Bottles: Types and Sizes
- A “regular” neck bottle is best for nursing moms who will be pumping (a little or a lot) because you can attach the bottle directly to the breast shield (horn thingy) and pump straight into the bottle. No adapter required.
- A “wide” neck bottle, on the other hand, is best suited for formula-feeding, as it’s much easier to pour the powder into a wider area without risking major spillage.
Also, bottles usually come in two different sizes:
- 4 (or 5) oz
- 8 (or 10) oz
The smaller ones are for newborns (0-2 months). Get several of both sizes.
The Best Baby Bottles
There are tons of great bottles out there, so don’t overthink this decision. Even the Medela bottles that come free with your pump work just fine for most. Note that if you’re concerned about plastics in your baby’s diet, opt for a glass bottle.
That said, here are some favorites:
Lansinoh Breastmilk Feeding Bottle ~ $19 (5 oz/3-Pack)
The Lansinoh Breastfeeding Bottles with NaturalWave Nipples are very highly rated and are our current top pick — for both formula-fed and breastfed babies alike. Supposedly, this bottle helps to reduce nipple confusion (important for babies who are also breastfed) because it mimics the breast, guiding infants through actions that they usually do when nursing. In addition, the nipple on this bottle is soft, flexible, and has a slightly sloped shape, which researchers say is easier for many babies to latch onto and maintain a proper seal.
It’s also a top choice for babies with colic or gas issues (let’s be honest: what baby doesn’t have gas issues??). Lansinoh uses an Air Ventilation System, which works to reduce excess air intake, thereby decreasing the occurrences of spit-up, gas bubbles, and colic.
Moms especially love that this bottle is super easy to clean (it’s only three pieces!), tends not to leak, and, at $19 for a pack of three-5 oz bottles, it’s affordable. Woot, woot!
Playtex VentAire ~ $19 for starter set
The VentAire has a small disc at the bottom of the bottle that supposedly helps decrease air bubbles (so baby consumes less excess air, which helps reduce painful gas bubbles and colic), and it’s angled shape helps keep baby more upright during feedings, which may help reduce the occurrence of spit-up as well as ear infections.
Many breastfeeding moms note that, when offered a bottle of breastmilk or formula, their babies like this bottle better than others.
Dr. Brown’s Original Bottles ~ $25 for the newborn set
Dr. Brown’s bottles are a classic — although they were only introduced in the mid 90s, it feels like they’ve been around forever (man, am I getting old…). They’re available everywhere, are a good fit for formula-fed or breastfed babies, and have a venting system that prevents air from getting in (why this matters for you: less gas ⇒ less colic).
The downside with Dr. Brown’s is that they’re a bit of a b*tch to clean. There are a lot of parts to set up, take apart, and scrub down. You can put them all in the dishwasher (top rack), but loads of people have issues with the parts turning colors or not getting clean, clean, clean… so unless you opt for the glass bottles, hand washing is probably best.
For babies who are EBF’d and have trouble taking a bottle, many moms swear by the Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle. This bottle’s design and feel mimic Mom’s breast (the silicone material is skin-like: soft and squeezable), making it easier for breastfed babies to take the bottle.
The Comotomo also has a special air-vent system to reduce the amount of excess air baby takes in (thus decreasing the occurrence of gas bubbles and colic).
Another bonus: Comotomo bottles are heat resistant, so you can boil them and put them in the dishwasher (yay!).
Philips AVENT ~ $47/$31 on sale
Another favorite bottle/feeding set is the Philips AVENT. The AVENT also has an anti-colic valve to prevent gas, but without a million different parts to clean.
The infant feeding set comes with all sorts of niceties: two 9 oz and three 4 oz bottles, two additional nipples (1-first flow and 1-newborn flow), a bottle brush, seven sealing discs for milk storage, and two pacifiers. A little something for everyone.
Honorable Mention: Playtex Drop-In Nursers ~ $21 for a set
This bottle combines a disposable inner liner with an outer bottle plastic shell. Since FF’ers go through several bottles a day (and thus, must CLEAN several bottles a day), they enjoy the fact that the drop-in (ahem: bottle condom) can be thrown away each time. Not necessarily the most eco-friendly choice buuuuut the liners ARE recyclable. Another pro to this bottle is that you can squeeze the air completely out of the liner to prevent a burp-fest.
Nursing moms love that you can pump, store, and feed all from the same liner – without having to transfer the milk – by using the pump adapter that comes with the breast milk storage kit.
This is a good choice if you’re not sure if you want to FF or BF and especially if you are FF’ing and don’t have a dishwasher.
*Don’t ignore the fact that you will have to buy lots and lots of bottle liners for these bottles, which is a pain. If you run out in the middle of the night… eek.
For your bottles, that is…
Each brand of bottle has several nipples to choose from. The nipple controls how fast the milk flows from the bottle.
Bottle Nipple Sizing
- For a newborn, start with a Stage 1 or a slow flow nipple (months 0-3)
- From there, you’ll graduate to a Stage 2 (around 3 months)
- Then Stage 3
Along with bottles, you’ll need a bottle brush. I dig the OXO Tot Bottle Brush and the Dr. Brown’s because they stand on their own next to the sink. You can use regular dish soap to wash your bottles and nipples or you can put them in the dishwasher.
Bottle Dishwasher Rack
Speaking of the dishwasher… a dishwasher rack can be a huge help. We like the OXO Tot Dishwasher Basket ($9). You can throw all your bottles parts and accessories in there and rest assured they won’t fall through to the bottom rack or base of the dishwasher and get ruined.
*Bonus! These also come in super-handy for breast pump parts and pieces, sippy cup tops and straws, as well as various other kitchen odds and ends, like reusable k-cup filters… and wine stoppers from your wine saver 😉.
Bottle Drying Rack
If you are formula-feeding or plan on bottle-feeding frequently, you may want to purchase a bottle drying rack. Any rack will do, but parents love the Grass Drying “Rack” from Boon.
Another item you’ve probably heard a lot about is a bottle warmer. Yes, it’s true that babies prefer warm milk to cold. In fact, my babies wouldn’t drink milk if it wasn’t warm, but be aware that many bottle warmers are notorious for not warming the bottle enough. If you plan on buying one, I suggest either the Dr. Brown’s Bottle Warmer or the Kiinde bottle warmer.
If you know you’re going to be on-the-go a lot and aren’t sure how to warm your bottles when you’re out, the Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle and Food Warmer is a good choice.
Again, if you plan on bottle-feeding frequently, this may be a worthwhile investment. If not, you can always just warm the bottle the old-fashioned way in hot water from the stove or microwave.
Finally, if you are formula-feeding full-time (or nearly full-time), I would highly recommend a formula mixer/heater of some sort.
Yes, you can mix and heat bottles the old-fashioned way, but friends who have purchased formula mixers joke that it changed their lives. The Baby Brezza Formula Pro is the one I recommend; just be sure to CAREFULLY follow the setup instructions, else you could be accidentally watering down his/her bottles.
A cheaper, low-tech option, which requires manual mixing is the beloved Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher. This requires about a minute of manual pumping, but produces a whole pitcher full of formula that can be used for up to 24 hours from the time it was mixed. Many parents (especially parents of multiples) swear by it.
Some babies are major spitters, meaning they spit up ALL THE TIME and EVERYWHERE. In fact, if you look at any random photo of my girls in the 1st year of their lives, chances are they were spitting up while the picture was taken (proof in picture). They both spit up heavily for a solid 9 or 10 months, so don’t be alarmed by the daily sprayings you may endure.
I kid you not: I had one babysitter quit because she could not handle the amount of spit up from Alice (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried).
As long as they aren’t in pain from GER, they are what doctors call “happy spitters” — and there’s not a lot you can (or should) do about it (no, baby Zantac will not fix the spit up itself, you’ll just have to deal with it).
In any case, you’ll want at least some absorbent burp cloths and if you have a serious spitter on your hands, some spit up bibs or cute bandana bibs can help prevent them from soaking their clothes (and yours!) after every feeding. Old school pre-fold cloth diapers (from Gerber) work really well for putting over your shoulder after a feeding.