How to Buy: Baby Bottles

From the perfect neck-width to the right nipple-flow, get the lowdown on everything you need to know before buying baby’s bottles.

Photo: Andrew McCaul

Unless you plan to solely breastfeed (that means no pumping either) until baby's on solid food, you'll need to invest in at least a few bottles. Babies often refuse bottles unless they’re introduced to them in the first few weeks of life, and then continue to use them a few times per week. (If you are breastfeeding, wait to start with the bottle until you and baby have the hang of nursing.)

Baby bottles run the gamut, from super simple -- just a bottle and a nipple -- to more complicated venting and drop-in systems designed to minimize air bubbles and help with reflux. Since all babies have different bottle needs and preferences, it's best not to invest in a full set of any one style until you see what works best for your baby. Buy a single bottle of a few different brands and see what baby likes best, then get the whole set. Start with the simplest systems, and if those give baby trouble, move on to something more specialized.

Whichever route you go, here’s what you need to know:

Bottle
By this point, it’s easy to find BPA-free plastic bottles. With all the controversy over the chemical, it seems a no-brainer to go BPA-free -- even if it all turns out to be just hype, why risk your baby’s health when there’s an easy alternative? You can also skip plastic entirely and go for eco-friendly glass bottles, though the increased risk of breakage makes some moms nervous.

Nipple
Lots of different sizes and flows are available, but for your newborn, stick to the slowest flow available.

Ring
This attaches the nipple to the bottle.

Neck
Go for a wide-necked bottle, especially if you’re also breastfeeding -- this most closely resembles the nursing experience.

Cleaning
Skip the bottle sterilizer -- the only time you need to sterilize your bottles is before the first usage, and five minutes in a pot of boiling water will do the trick just fine. After that, the dishwasher is absolutely fine. Spend the money you’re saving on the sanitizer for a good dishwasher basket to keep your bottle parts in.

Warming
While bottle warmers can make things go a little faster, most moms don’t find them necessary. Simply put the bottle in hot (not boiling) water, or run it under a warm faucet. Microwaves are a no-no -- these heat unevenly and can burn your baby.

Transportation
For on-the-go moms and babies, a carrying case with an icepack is useful for keeping milk or formula fresh.

Plus, More from The Bump:

Best Baby Bottles

Should a Bottle Be Steralized?

Tips for Buying Formula

-- Paula Kashtan

See More: Baby Registry , Baby Gear , Baby Basics , Bottlefeeding

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How to Buy: A Breast Pump