When it comes to choosing a bottle for your baby, there are a few things to consider.
What materials are best for baby? What size bottle should you buy and how many? How do you know where a bottle has been made? And how might production location impact on the safety standards it meets?
Then, there are also practical elements, like determining whether the bottle can adapt to your baby’s needs or fit with your breast pump, if necessary.
Like so many things, it can feel like trial and error is your only option, but we have a few helpful ideas that can perhaps give you a better starting point for choosing what's right for you and your baby.
Consideration #1 – Materials
Let’s first look at the two most common materials that baby bottles are made from: glass and plastic (polypropylene).
Glass baby bottles are often made from a borosilicate glass, which makes it particularly safe when dropped, as they tend to crack and break rather than shatter. It does, however, take a lot to break them.
Glass baby bottles are able to warm up faster than plastic and hold a consistent temperature longer, as glass is more thermally conductive than plastic. Borosilicate glass is also safe to go from cold to hot temperatures quickly without breaking.
Cleaning a glass baby bottle can be easier too, as plastic bottles often require hot temperatures and a bottle cleanser designed to break down the fat in milk to remove the milk residue.
Quality glass bottles, such as the ones in the NUK range, are safe to be used in the freezer if you prefer to freeze your breast milk or baby food directly into the container you will feed from.
Plastic baby bottles are now generally BPA free, but it is always worth checking that the brand you use is. BPA is a chemical used to harden plastic, but it has been known to have harmful health effects, so it should not be used for containing food or drink.
Being lighter to carry around, plastic bottles can be more convenient if you are needing to them with you each day.
Plastic bottles are also a little more economical than glass when you initially purchase them, although keep in mind that plastic – being softer – will need to be replaced more often, as micro scratches on the inside surface, caused by washing them, can harbour bacteria. So, ideally, you would replace a plastic bottle once a year if it’s regularly used.
Consideration #2 – Size
The next consideration when bottle shopping is what size you should buy. A key factor for determining this is whether you will be predominately feeding your baby with breast milk or formula.
With breast milk, it is always best to just warm up and offer a smaller amount, as you have put a lot of time into expressing the milk for baby and you don't want there to be left over milk, which then gets wasted.
So, we advise that 120ml to 150ml bottles are a great starting point. You may want to buy a larger volume bottle as baby gets older, but starting with smaller ones will be a lot easier.
When feeding with formula, the volume of milk required is often much higher than breast milk – this contrast becomes more prominent fairly quickly after birth.
This means you may find it helpful to use a larger bottle from the beginning, such as a 240ml to 300ml bottle.
Consideration #3 – Quantity
If your bottles are compatible with your breast pump, you may want one for expressing into and 1–4 bottles for part-time bottle feeding or top-up bottle feeding.
For full-time bottle feeding, 6–10 bottles will make life a little easier. However, of course, with careful planning you could have one good bottle that gets washed and sterilised after each use.
Consideration # 4 – Age & Stage
Some types of bottles can adapt to different stages alongside your baby, such as the NUK First Choice range. With interchangeable tops, you can take the same bottle from a teat, to a silicone spout for when baby starts eating solids and drinking water, through to a straw top or push pull spout.
A really great way to approach this is to buy a NUK First Choice Learner Bottle, which comes with a silicone spout and removable ergonomic handles for baby to hold the cup themselves.
When baby is little, you can remove the handles and spout and replace the teat with a teat of your choice, such as a latex teat. This bottle can then be used from newborn through to toddler stage, only replacing the teats as necessary.
Smaller bottles can also be used for storage for baby food and even toddler snacks, such as yoghurt, by replacing the teat with the sealing disc to make the bottle a jar.
Consideration # 5 – Production Location & Safety Standards
Baby bottles are produced in many countries around the world, all with varying safety standards, with Europe being at the top, with particularly stringent measures for safety. The NUK range is proudly produced in Germany and meets these high standards, which means you can rest assured our products are of the highest quality.
One of the important safety standards to mention is that which ensures the measurement on the outside of the bottle is an accurate representation of the volume inside the bottle. It can be problematic when it is inaccurate, especially when mixing formula, as the correct volume of water to powder ratio is imperative for baby’s health.
Consideration # 6 – Breast Pump Compatibility
One last thing to consider is if your bottle can fit onto your breast pump if you are going to express. It can be helpful to be able to pump in to, store, and feed from the same bottle – although, of course, it’s not necessary.
You may choose to pump directly into bags and then pour the milk into the bottle of your choice, or pump into a breast milk container and then pour that into the bottle of your choice or into a bag for storing in the freezer.
If you are still unsure about what bottle to buy, you can contact the helpful team at Belly Beyond for further advice.
Guest Blog Contributor: Danella from NUK New Zealand – Your Bottle-feeding Experts