Introducing a baby to a bottle for the first time is tricky, to say the least.
There are tons of options for different kinds of baby bottles on the market, but the choice isn’t simple.
The variety can make choosing the right baby bottle for your little one overwhelming. After all, there are so many shapes, materials, and sizes – how do you know which one is the best?
There are easily over a dozen different types of baby bottles. They differ based on material (glass, silicone, plastic), shape (wide, angled), features (anti-colic, self-sterilizing), and size — with the most common being standard shape plastic bottles.
However, if you or your baby needs something in particular out of a bottle, you can bet there’s an option for you out there.
In this guide, we’ve tried to differentiate between all the available options to help you find the perfect match.
So, let’s get started!
The Different Materials of Baby Bottles
Did you know the material used to make a baby bottle can seep into your baby’s formula milk and enter their bodies?
Easy to see why the material of the bottle is one of the most important considerations when choosing a baby milk bottle, right?
Here’s what you need to know about different bottle material options:
Decades ago, parents only used baby bottles made of glass.
These bottles were sturdy and didn’t contain any chemicals that could potentially seep into your baby’s formula or milk. Moreover, they lasted longer than plastic – provided you don’t end up dropping them.
You can truly sanitize glass baby bottles as the material can be heated to higher temperatures without you having to worry about melts. Also, since glass doesn’t absorb odors or impart certain “flavors“ into the formula or breast milk, it can maintain the purity of taste.
The downsides of glass bottles are pretty obvious, and they’re a bit less common today.
Not only are the bottles heavy, but are also prone to shattering. The grip isn’t that good either.
You can buy silicone sleeves, though, that can easily slip over the bottles to protect them from breaking.
- Higher longevity
- Doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals
- Easier to clean and maintain
- Can be sanitized properly
- Breast milk or formula tastes better in glass baby bottles
- Higher compatibility with breast pumps
- Limited availability and options
- Heavy to hold
- Higher possibility of breakage
These baby bottles are a relatively newer entry in the baby market.
Silicone baby bottles are made from food-grade silicone and are BPA-free, lightweight, and flexible.
In fact, it can be an excellent option for people who have butterfingers – if anyone drops the bottle, it will probably bounce back!
While silicone baby bottles are a better option than plastic, they aren’t as safe as stainless steel or glass bottles.
Despite limited research on the safety of silicone, we do know that this material may leach at very low or high temperatures. So these may not be the best choice for storing hot liquids or keeping it in the refrigerator.
But if you use the bottle regularly, leaching may not be much of an issue. We would recommend choosing bottles made with food-grade or medical-grade silicone only.
- Safer than plastic baby bottles
- Unbreakable material
- Free from toxins
- Tends to leach chemicals when exposed to very high or very low temperatures
- Not available in local supermarkets or grocery stores readily
Plastic bottles are the standard and most common choice for most parents.
Just know that you should steer away from specific plastics that can break down at higher temperatures that, in turn, can seep into your baby’s food.
Opt for bottles that are made with BPA (Bisphenol A)-free, PVC-free, and phthalate-free. Even BPS (bisphenol S) is an unsafe chemical.
If you don’t already know, BPA is a chemical that can have many negative effects on your baby’s health and hence, should be avoided at all costs.
It also has a higher possibility of seeping into the baby’s milk, and adversely affecting their growth and development.
Instead, you can buy baby bottles made with Polypropylene or Polypropene (PP), and Polyethersulfone (PES).
However, keep in mind that PP milk bottles tend to lose their transparency over time. Also, since bottles have to be sterilized and boiled, they have a limited shelf life, which is why you would need to replace them more often.
Your other option is Polyethersulfone (PES) plastic baby bottles, which may last longer since they can withstand higher temperatures (as high as 180°C!).
It allows them to retain their tensile strength and form despite continuous use and sterilization.
Truthfully, any BPA-free plastic bottle from a reputable brand like Dr. Brown’s, Tommee Tippee, or Philips Avent will be perfectly safe.
- Incredibly lightweight
- Affordable price-tag
- Has clear markings, allowing you to measure your baby’s milk
- Can handle higher temperature, and is resistant to temperature changes
- Can be heated in a microwave
- Relatively unbreakable
- Compatible with cold water sterilization as well as heat sterilization
- Lower durability
- More prone to scratches
- Difficult to clean and fully dry
- Can absorb odors, requiring frequent deodorization
Stainless Steel Bottles
Some parents have recently started opting for stainless steel baby bottles.
This is mainly because of their insulating properties that help keep the milk warmer for longer.
These bottles are also very easy to clean, durable, and less prone to scratches.
These are free of any toxins, light, and shatterproof. If you’re looking for a long-lasting option, then too stainless steel is a good option to consider.
That being said, measuring how much breast milk or formula milk your baby is getting in these bottles is difficult.
You’ll have to measure, mix, and heat in an alternative container and then transfer the milk to the stainless steel bottle. Besides this, these bottles are harder to find and are pricier than their plastic counterparts.
- Less breakable and lighter than glass
- Plastic- and toxin-free
- More versatile as they can be converted into bottles for toddlers, kids, and adults
- Keeps milk warmer for longer
- Easy to maintain
- Hard to find in stores
- Doesn’t let you measure the formula or breastmilk
- May affect the taste of breast milk or formula
The Different Shapes of Baby Bottles
After materials, you should definitely consider the most convenient baby bottle shape for you and your baby.
Each bottle shape has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
This baby bottle shape, as the name suggests, is the most common variety.
The bottles are narrow and straight and are generally made with plastic, silicon, glass, or stainless steel (see above). They can also easily fit into most bottle warmers and cup holders.
The main problem with traditional bottles is some babies can suffer from gassiness when using them as they don’t do much to disperse air bubbles.
- Easy to clean
- Readily available in stores
- Babies may face issues with gassiness
Angled bottles, also known as angle-neck bottles, are bent at the neck.
This intelligent design reduces air formation in the nipple, which, in turn, reduces the amount of air your baby swallows.
It also enables the baby to feed at an angle or when sitting up, allowing air bubbles to travel upwards and away from the nipple.
- Baby can be fed sitting up
- Less air formation in the nipple
- Easier to hold
- Can prevent ear infections
- Bottle design makes the bottles harder to clean
Wide-neck bottles are broad and short in shape with wide openings.
This shape has several benefits, such as effortless cleaning and greater ease in measuring breast milk and formula-mixing.
Moreover, the wider neck is compatible with wider nipples that mimic the natural shape of a mother’s breast.
This also makes these bottles more comfortable for babies.
- Compatible with a wider nipples
- Mimics the breast
- More comfortable for the baby
- Easier to clean
- May be difficult to fit into stroller cup holders
The Different Functions and Features of Baby Bottles
Once you’ve nailed down which material and shape your baby will need, it’s time to consider some “bonus features.”
Here are a few that you’ll find in popular bottles.
Nursing mothers often have to soothe their newborns dealing with colic and gas problems.
As a parent, you should always take digestion problems seriously to avoid complications.
Luckily, anti-colic bottles can provide the perfect solution. They help your newborn feed properly by allowing them to swallow milk and not air.
These bottle systems are designed with straw-like components that are attached to either the inside of the nipple or the bottom of the bottle. A few of them might have a small hole in the nipple.
The vent attachment or vent hole can diminish air bubbles in the nipple, reducing both acid reflux as well as gassiness. This then makes feeding and digestion more comfortable for your bundle of joy.
- Helps reduce air bubbles in the nipple
- Combats gassiness and acid reflux problems
- Makes milk easily digestible for the baby
- Comprised of several small components
- Difficult to clean
These are reusable plastic bottles that are very light and aren’t made to last for long.
The bottles are designed in a specific way to prevent babies from noticing that they aren’t sucking on a real nipple.
Besides this, parents don’t have to worry about exposing their children to unsafe contaminants. The bottles can be disposed of after a certain period before they start to degrade or break down.
- Made with BPA-free plastic
- Designed to replicate a real nipple
- Available in various bottle capacities
- Not all brands use recyclable materials, which can adversely affect the environment
- Creates an ongoing expense for parents
Self-Sterilizing baby bottles are a boon for working mothers.
These bottles are very easy to use and come with a base and a measuring cup.
You‘re supposed to fill the base with cool water using the cup, and then place the bottle components on top of the base.
Proceed with heating the components in a microwave for about three minutes, and it’ll be all done!
- Great for working mothers
- Can reduce colic
- Generally dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe
- Chunky base design can make it difficult to hold
- Bottles aren’t great to look at
Bottles with Disposable Liners
Investing in baby bottles that have disposable liners is an excellent way to keep things neat and clean, making it a great travel option.
Once your baby is done feeding, you can throw the liner away, while the bottle stays clean.
Drop-in liners also mimic breastfeeding, collapsing while the baby eats. They are mainly designed for on-the-go feeding and to make cleanup a breeze.
- Suitable for on-the-go feeding
- Can be disposed of after use
- Mimics breastfeeding
- Cuts down on gas-related problems
- Cannot be reused
- Not environment-friendly
- More expensive than regular bottles
The Different Sizes of Baby Bottles
Choosing the right baby bottle size depends on your baby’s feeding capacity.
You can choose between the two standard available options according to your baby’s age.
Large baby bottles are suitable for babies who are around six months old.
These bottles usually have a capacity of 250 mL, which is enough to keep your baby satisfied.
- Can come with handles, allowing your baby to hold the bottle by themselves
- Sufficient capacity to keep the baby full
- Suitable for babies above the age of 6 months
- Difficult to hold for smaller hands
Babies up to six months do well with a small-sized bottle that usually has a capacity of approximately 170 mL.
It’s crucial to buy the right size for newborns to avoid problems during feeding. Plus, having a large bottle for a small baby may look silly too!
- Helps reduce problems during feeding
- Convenient for newborn mothers
- Caters to the small stomachs of newborns
- Baby will outgrow these quickly
The Different Types of Bottle Nipples
For as many features as there are to choose from when it comes to bottles, you have just as many options for bottle nipples!
Chances are, your bottle set will come with the right nipples your baby needs.
But if you have certain requirements, you may want to look into specialized nipples.
Traditional or standard nipples are either dome-shaped or bell-shaped.
The design is mostly similar to that of a pacifier, which makes them larger than other nipples.
Also known as wide nipples, breast mimicking nipples mimic the natural shape of a mother’s breast.
These nipples have a wide base with a raised platform, making it easier for the baby to feed on it.
Orthodontic nipples have a bulb shape at the top that rests against the roof of the mouth.
The sides are flat-angled, allowing it to rest against the tongue. These nipples are supposed to be better for babies as they develop their first set of teeth.
Anti-vacuum or vented nipples are designed with an air vent that can diminish air consumption and collapse during bottle feeding.
This can be helpful to reduce problems related to gas and colic as well.
These nipples allow you to change the flow of milk. This design is beneficial for two reasons:
- Facilitating an extra fast flow of milk
- Accommodating thicker liquids
Some brands offer vented nipples that let you choose the appropriate flow between slow, medium, and fast.
Most nipples are made out of clear silicone material that makes them more flexible and boosts their ability to withstand higher temperatures when washed or boiled.
Here’s a quick rundown of silicone nipples:
- Not very porous, which limits its absorption abilities
- Better shape retention, making them less prone to nipple collapse during feeding
- Higher durability
Latex nipples are also available but can cause an allergic reaction in sensitive infants. So if you do decide to use these, make sure that your newborn isn’t allergic to it.
Here’s a quick rundown of latex nipples:
- Tends to absorb the smell and taste of liquids
- More prone to breakage due to greater flexibility and soft material
- Can be allergic for babies at times
- Has to be replaced more frequently
Read more details here: 8 types of baby bottle nipples explained.
The Bottom Line
Feeding time – whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding – is a great time for parents to bond with their baby.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right type of bottle, but here’s a quick summary:
Most babies and parents do just fine with standard, BPA-free plastic bottles.
If you want reusable and sturdy bottles, you could also consider stainless steel or glass.
Wide-neck and anti-colic baby bottles prevent the baby from swallowing air that can, in turn, reduce problems related to gas and acid reflux.
If you travel frequently, you can take a look at disposable baby bottles or bottles with disposable liners that are a great option to feed your baby on the go — but these won’t be great for your regular everyday use.
Make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning the bottle too! After all, hygiene is an equally important part of a satisfying feeding experience.
Before you go, check out more guides like this one:
Hope this helps!