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.
Types and Sizes
- A “regular” neck bottle is best for nursing moms who will be using breast pumps (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.
Our Favorite Picks — Baby Bottles
There are tons of great bottles out there, so don’t overthink this decision. Even the “generic” bottles that come with your pump work just fine for many. 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. These bottles (like many) are specifically designed to help to reduce nipple confusion (important for babies who are also breastfed) because the nipple mimics the breast, guiding infants through actions they usually take 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.
These are 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!
Nanobebe Breastmilk Bottles ~$18/3-pack
Many moms who breastfeed are really loving the Nanobebe bottles — they look a bit futuristic (see below), but the design is supposed to preserve breastmilk through the cooling and heating processes. (And here I thought they were just trying to make it look like a boob!)
These are a very nice option if you are pumping and bottle-feeding — you can pump directly into the bottles and they double as storage. (My favorite thing about these: they’re stackable!) They’re also pretty easy to clean and warm up quickly. Some moms think the design is easy for babies to grab onto, while others prefer the traditional bottle shape.
These are likely not the best choice if you’re formula feeding, just FYI.
*Note: These can and will leak if the nipple isn’t sealed on correctly, so make sure you get it set up nice and tight. *And, some users have had the bottoms pop off entirely while pumping or feeding, so make sure the bottom is fastened on securely as well. There is nothing more frustrating than losing pumped breastmilk.
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!).
Chicco Duo ~$19 for 2
These newer bottles out from Chicco are super cool, and parents are loving them. The bottle is hybrid — it’s glass on the inside and plastic on the outside — so you get the benefits of glass on the interior with the durability of plastic. (I really wish these had been around when I was bottle-feeding, because I *did drop and shatter our glass bottle on the floor at daycare drop-off. It was… embarrassing.) With few parts, these bottles are also easy to clean (and they’re dishwasher safe).
One other note: these bottles are surprisingly light — you honestly wouldn’t know they were glass just based on how they feel in terms of the weight.
Philips AVENT Natural ~$49/set
Another favorite bottle/feeding set is the Philips AVENT Natural. 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 ~$32
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 (and $$$). If you run out in the middle of the night… eek.
Note: we used to recommend the Playtex VentAire, but we’re not fans of the new “update” to these bottles. (And sadly, the original version is no longer available anywhere.) Moms are having tons of problems with the new VentAire bottles leaking, and there’s *nothing worse than a leaking bottle… it sucks, and if you’re feeding breast milk, it is seriously infuriating.
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.
- 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 (~$9) and the Dr. Brown’s (~$5) 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.
Speaking of the dishwasher… a dishwasher rack can be a huge help. We like the OXO Tot Dishwasher Basket ($11). 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
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 (~$15).
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. *You do not need one of these… and I know a lot of moms who purchased one and found it more time-consuming (and/or annoying) than just heating the water on its own.
That said, if you plan on buying one, I suggest 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 (~$199) 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 (and WAY more economical) option, which requires manual mixing is the beloved Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher (~$26). 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.
What about bottle sterilizers? Just say no, don’t waste your money. You don’t need to sterilize bottles and stuff, unless you live in a 3rd world country — or have a preemie or a special needs baby and have been specifically told to sterilize your baby’s bottles.
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). 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). Yes, both my girls spit up heavily for a solid 9 or 10 months, so don’t be alarmed by the daily sprayings you may endure.
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 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.