A Step-by-Step Guide to Buying Bottles and Nipples
Round/Bell/Dome-ShapedOrthodontic nipples are asymmetrically shaped with an angled top designed to accommodate baby’s tongue while sucking, and to mimic the shape of Mom’s nipple, which gets flattened in baby’s mouth when baby feeds. These nipples are designed to fit the shape of baby’s palate and gums, giving the tongue and jaw more room to move naturally while sucking, promoting healthy oral development. The design also allows the milk to mix with baby’s saliva for better digestion. Round, Bell-, or Dome-Shaped These nipples are tall with a short, rounded tip—and are the traditional shape of bottle nipples. Keep in mind that both shapes are available in reusable nipples, as well as convenient pre-packaged and sterilized disposable nipples (great for traveling), which have to be tossed after one use. PARENT TIP Pacifiers also come with different shaped nipples; the most common ones have orthodontic shaped nipples. Something to consider: You may want to use the same nipple shape for both bottle and pacifier. STEP 3 Choose a Nipple Size: Slow Flow, Medium Flow, or Fast Flow? Nipples come in different sizes/stages.Many bottle-nipple sets come with a nipple that has the slowest flow speed (often called “Slow Flow” or “Stage 1”), because this is the flow speed recommended for newborns and even preemies. But if this is the case, you’ll need to buy separate replacement nipples that have a faster flow speed (marked on the packaging by age or stage—from “Medium Flow” or “Stage 2” to “Fast Flow” or “Stage 3-4”) once your baby gets older, starts sucking more effectively, and is drinking more breast milk or formula. PARENT TIP Check nipples for wear and tear every two to three months. Signs a nipple should be replaced: it’s become discolored; it’s sticky even after you wash and dry it; it’s developed cracks or breaks; it feels thinner and less firm; and/or milk pours out in a stream—not a steady drip. STEP 4 Choose a Bottle Material: Glass, Plastic, Disposable, or Stainless Steel? Once you’ve chosen a nipple, look for bottles from the same manufacturer to be sure the nipples fit properly. Manufacturers typically offer bottles made of different materials: Plastic The best aspect to these bottles is they’re affordable—and are more resistant to breakage than glass. While they are reusable, they can deteriorate so they may need to be replaced. (Replace a plastic bottle if it cracks, leaks, becomes discolored, or smells bad—even after you wash it.) Plastic is also much lighter than glass, making it easier for older babies to hold the bottle themselves. Many moms are concerned about plastic; look for the BPA-free label to be sure, and never use hand-me-downs unless you’re certain they’re BPA free. Glass These bottles are more expensive than plastic, but are a more environmentally friendly option. They can break, chip, or crack easily though. (You can, however, purchase silicone sleeves to cover the glass, helping to prevent them from breaking if dropped.) Know, though, that some day-care centers do not allow glass bottles because they can easily break; check with yours before buying glass. Disposable Some plastic bottles come with pre-sterilized disposable liners, which have to be thrown out after each use. The liners collapse as baby drinks, preventing air from getting into their system. They’re convenient to use, but you have to toss and replace the liner after every feeding—which can get expensive over time. Stainless Steel There are a few stainless steel bottles as well, which come with a silicone sleeve to make the bottles easier to grip—and keep the bottle’s exterior from getting too cold to handle. If you want an environmentally friendly option—and are planning to send your child to day care—this might be the right choice for you. PARENT TIP No matter what your bottle is made out of, never put your bottle in the microwave to heat the milk. Liquid heats unevenly in a microwave, creating “hot spots” that can burn your baby’s mouth—even if you shake it. It’s better to use a bottle warmer on low, to gently warm the bottle in a mug of warm water, or not to warm the bottle at all (as some parents prefer). STEP 5 Choose a Bottle Shape: Standard/Narrow, Wide, or Angled? No matter what type of bottle you opt for, all have some sort of venting “system” for preventing baby from ingesting air while feeding—helping to prevent gas pain and colic. All bottles also come with removable caps to keep the nipples clean.
|Standard or Narrow These are the most traditional-style bottles that come in short and tall sizes, with either straight or slightly curved sides. They’re easy to hold and fit most traditional bottle warmers. These bottles feature different types of venting systems. Most have a vent built into the nipple, helping to keep air out of the baby’s mouth and reduce colic. Others have an internal venting system to move air to the bottom of the bottle while baby is feeding. (These bottles are typically harder to clean because they have more parts.)|
|Angled This design—where the bottle is bent at the neck—keeps air at the back of the bottle as baby drinks, limiting the amount of air that mixes with the milk. It’s easy to hold and position—and allows baby to sit semi-upright for feeding. These bottles also have a removable bottom cap for easy cleaning.|