We have tried many kinds of baby bottles with our son in the nearly three months since his birth. I will share our experience with you in the hopes that someone, somewhere can use the information. Remember, we started off thinking we would be exclusively bottle-feeding donated breastmilk. The plan changed to half breast- and half bottle-feeding. Now, we’re down to one or two bottles a day. The changes in when and how we use bottles with our son have meant changes in what we need from a bottle. I had no idea this would be so complicated, or that the bottle aisle in Babies ‘R’ Us would be so darn overwhelming (to me, my husband and both of my mothers-in-law). In chronological order, here is each of the brands we used and what I think of them.
Nurture Pure: F-
I felt so great about myself for registering for these bottles. Independently-owned company! Glass! Eco-friendly! I registered while we were still going with the only-bottles plan, so I didn’t think it mattered what kind of nipple it had. By the time Walt was born, I had done a good deal of reading about bottle-feeding a primarily breast-fed baby. I looked at the glass bottles I had received from my ever-generous, always gracious sister-in-law, and the nipples seemed tiny, narrow and hard. As in, not soft. As in, nothing like a breast. We tried using them. They frustrated everyone. Dr. Smillie suggested a wide, “natural” and soft nipple.
Unlike most small baby companies I’ve dealt with, this company is also completely awful. There is no customer service–no one answers emails or picks up the phone. Ever. Really. There’s no return policy. The shipping they charge is outrageous. According to the sister-in-law who gave us the bottles, it also took forever for them to arrive. Fail. I plan on using the small size as spice jars or something, with the “storage” caps, and throw the nipples out.
Babies ‘R’ Us “Purely Simple” Wide-Neck Bottle: B
Dr. Smillie couldn’t remember the exact brand of bottle she liked, and the name she gave me didn’t exist at the store. Of course, I sent my husband Nathan to the store the day we switched from syringe-feeding to bottle-feeding, because I had all this new-mom anxiety about what it might do to the baby to have the “wrong” bottle/nipple. Dr. Smillie assured me that the bottle she was thinking of was inexpensive, so Nathan wisely chose the cheapest wide-neck, “natural”-nippled bottle the store carried. Honestly, Walt did respond to these much better. We knew already that he didn’t mind room-temperature milk, so I wasn’t worried about plastic vs. glass as long as we weren’t heating them. There’s just one problem with these bottles: my kid could invert the nipple just by sucking on it at under one-week-old. This means that when he sucks, there’s a vacuum effect that essentially causes him to eat too much, too quickly. It also means taking the bottle out of his mouth to pop the nipple back into shape every thirty seconds.
The First Years “Breast-Flow”: F
A lovely relative asked if we needed anything specific, and I asked for these. A Babble review of bottles had assured me that these were the best for breast-fed babies, because they force a baby to use his tongue to get milk out, not just suction. (That’s how breastfeeding works–they need to use their tongues.) They attempt to accomplish this with a two-part nipple: a soft, normal-looking one on the outside and a blue, firm one on the inside. These frustrated my kid immensely. He couldn’t get the stupid milk out! We took out the blue inner-nipple thing, but they still seemed weird. Fail.
Avent Original: B+
No, I did not go out and buy more bottles. The same sister-in-law who gave us the bottles gave me the pump she was no longer using, and it’s an Avent pump that comes with Avent bottles. These are perfectly fine. The whole “vent” thing they claim to have doesn’t really work, but the vacuum effect was much less with these than the BRU bottles.
Avent Natural: A-
Yes, I did buy these. But I bought them because I was pumping more than four-ounces, and the pump didn’t come with eight-ounce bottles. The Avent pump is the only one that doesn’t pump into a standard container, so you have to buy their bottles if you want to pump directly into the bottle. Since we needed larger bottles anyway, I bought lovely glass eight-ouncers with “natural” nipples. Everyone noticed a difference. He really seemed to take to these.
Dr. Brown’s Wide Neck Natural Flow: A+
I really should have started with these. I had used them while babysitting and knew they were awesome. But they’re expensive. They have several parts that need to be washed with a small pipe-cleaner-type brush (or, as it turns out, just run through the dishwasher–live and learn). Eventually, I got some BRU rewards coupons, so I got some eight-ouncers to try out. Why not just stick with the Avent? Our son is a spitter. Spitting up doesn’t seem to upset him, so there’s no indication that it’s acid reflux. My niece and nephew had reflux and it causes a lot of crying; you’d cry too if you had heartburn 24/7, especially if you had no idea what it was or what was causing the awful pain. Still, Walter soaks outfits. His and ours. I got these bottles in an attempt to see if they could at least decrease the amount of liquid that came back up when he was fed from a bottle. I think they do actually work for that. But there’s another reason I give these an A+ and not just an A…
These are the only bottles I have used that allow us to do “paced bottle-feeding.” Click on that link to learn more, but what this essentially means is that Dr. Brown’s bottles let him eat the way he does at the breast: he takes little breaks. Those little parts that require extra attention while cleaning somehow keep that vacuum from happening, so drinking from the bottle doesn’t immediately cause more liquid to come out. The milk only comes out when he wants it to. He looks more comfortable, and we don’t have to force the bottles out of his mouth with a “pop” sound to get him a break from a constant flow of milk. At night, he doesn’t even wake up if you get the bottle to him during the “grunting/I’m hungry” signals, before he resorts to crying. A lactation consultant told me that of all the bottles that claim to be “slow-flow,” a new study she read at a conference last spring found that Dr. Brown’s is the only bottle that does actually allow the milk to come out slowly.
There you have it: more information than you ever wanted about baby bottles. It’s a lot more than I ever wanted to know. But since I now know what works for my baby and why, I can only hope that it will show up in Google the next time someone likes me searches for “baby bottle review.”