The various kinds :
1. Neck – Standard Wide/Standard (narrow)
2. Volume – 9oz/4 oz
3. Teat – silicone/latex/orthodontic
5. Other shapes and features
6. Look – plain/with pictures
7. Etc, etc, etc.
A few things to consider :
1. The Bottle Neck
Most bottles come with the standard neck. This means that if you buy a Pigeon bottle, for example, you can easily get teats of other brands as replacements. Avent used to be about the one brand producing wide neck bottles, but lately, Nuk and Pigeon wide neck bottles are also easily available.
The advantage of getting the standard neck bottles is that you can replace the teat easily. Some people also find the narrower bottles easier to hold. On the other hand, many mothers complained to me about the difficulty of putting formula powder into a standard neck bottle, especially for the middle-of-night feed when you are not very awake. Wide neck bottles don’t have this problem. If you are breastfeeding and express milk by hand, it is definitely easier to ‘aim’ at a wide neck bottle.
2. Number of bottles to buy and the size
If you are going to feed your baby mainly formula, then the recommended number of bottles you will need is 6. If you buy less, it only means that you will have to wash the bottles more frequently. 6 is not a magic number. You may wish to note that most sterilisers come in 2 sizes – 2 bottles and 6 bottles.
If you are going to mainly breastfeed your baby, then 2 bottles will definitely be sufficient for you. If you are going back to work and feeding your baby expressed breastmilk, you may also need more bottles.
Apart from the above, some formula-feeding parents like to buy an extra small bottle to bring water out in. You really don’t need to use a 9 oz bottle to bring some water out for your baby when you go out.
I find that one 4oz bottle is enough. The rest should be 9 oz. Although you baby may start off taking 2 -3 oz of formula per feed, after a while, your baby is going to take more and by then, if you have been using small bottles, you will need to buy the bigger bottles. Why not just start straight off with a big bottle?
3. Which teat?
There are basically two kinds of teat : silicone (transparent) and latex (brown). Silicone is harder but more lasting. If you can, start off with silicone teats and stick to it. It’s longer lasting so you get to save some money here. On the other hand, latex teats are softer but not as long lasting. After a while, it turns a bit gummy. Once you start your baby off on latex teats, it may learn to prefer it to silicone ones because latex is softer. So I would recommend that you start of right from the beginning with silicone teats.
Then there are teats of different shapes. Almost all of them claim to emulate the mother’s breast, i.e. baby will be more receptive to them (especially breastfed babies). Uh..I hate to be a wet blanket but I don’t think any woman’s breasts look anything like these bottle teats. There are also those specially designed by orthodontists (centre in the picture). I think they are supposed to be good for babies’ teeth. Nuk carries such teats.
Pigeon’s new peristaltic teats seem to be a nice cross between the silicon and latex teat. The silicon version is not as tough as the traditional silicon teat and is more stretchable.
4. More on Teats – The flow, and others
Slow flow, fast flow, medium flow, variable flow. So which one should you get for your newborn? Nuk actually tells you whether that particular teat is for thin liquids or milk, and classifies its teats by age. That makes things easier for you. If in doubt, get variable flow. These are the ones with a cross cut instead of a hole. The amount of liquid the baby gets depends on how hard it sucks, or which way you place the teat in your baby’s mouth.
Most teats claim to have anti-colic features. So as far as anti-colic features are concerned, it should not affect your buying decision since almost every one of them is anti-colic.
5. Bottle Covers
Believe it or not, it matters. Let’s use standard neck bottles as an example since most bottles fall into this category. If you remember, our parents used to press down on the teat to shake the bottle so that the milk would not spill out. These days, you don’t have to do that. For most good brands, once you place the bottle cover over the teat, the cover sits snugly over the teat such that when you shake the bottle to mix the formula, the milk will not leak out. If you put a bottle of milk in your bag with the cover on, the cover will prevent leakage. Some brands don’t have this feature. They are usually the cheaper brands.
Another thing is, most covers of most good brands would be interchangeable. E.g. Good Brand A cover should be able to fit Good Brand B, providing the same leak-proof feature. But to the on the safe side, it may be a good idea to buy bottles from the same brand so that you won’t need to sort out which cover fits which bottle. Fitting the wrong cover may lead to leakage due to wrong fit.
6. Other kinds
Some bottles have anti-colic features. For instance, the bottom of the bottle has certain contraption that allows air to flow in (E.g. Pur). Frankly speaking, I am not sure how useful these are. I mean, even the doctors are not sure what causes colic. They only observe that most colicky babies are also windy and suspect that colic has got something to do with infant wind problem. Hence, the bottle manufactures come up with bottles that are suppose to reduce the amount of wind your baby takes in as it takes it feed. You are charged more for the special feature for benefits that may be dubious.
About angled-bottles, from my research, seems like they are not that user-friendly. Since there are not many of such bottles in the market, I assume they are not really popular. They don’t go well with sterilisers, bottle holders, etc too, due to their odd shape. They are probably also harder to clean.
Then there are bottles with disposable bags. They are useful for travelling but for everyday use, they really don’t make economic sense.
Finally, there are plenty of bottles out there with pictures and designs on them, some even with figurine-shaped covers. These are really not necessary. You get charged more for nothing.
Nowadays parents are also very concerned about BPA used in the manufacturing of bottles and more companies are coming out with BPA-free bottles. It is certainly good to exercise caution and get BPA-free bottles. Some parents go so far as to get glass bottles – how retro! However, glass bottles are more dangerous due to risk of breaking. I remember I broke my milk bottle when I was a small kid when a thunder shocked me while I was drinking from it. : )
6. One last thing to take note
Shop for sterilisers first before shopping for bottles. Why? Because some sterilisers are sold with one or two bottles as a package.
If you ask me, my personal preference is the Avent system. I like the wide neck, and the fact that parts are interchangeable – e.g. teats can be replaced with sippy cup spout, and the bottles fit their breastpumps. Other brands do have the inter-changeable parts feature, but my personal preference is still the Avent bottles.