How did I choose the right bottle for my baby?

There are almost 25 different brands of baby bottles available in the market, and it can be quite daunting to choose the best one for our baby. Some of the major manufacturers of baby bottles are Philips AVENT , Dr. Brown’s, Playtex, Evenflo, NUK, The First Years, Munchkin, Nuby, etc. My choice in bottles was based on a few simple factors that I have explained below. I have used Medela, Philips, and Nuby and here are my experiences.

Choose-Right-Bottle-Icon

Choosing Bottles: 

Initially, I was exclusively nursing my little one, so I did not need any bottles. When he was around 8 weeks old, in the first week of October, I bought a Medela Harmony manual breast pump (see my other post regarding manual pumping). I would pump into one bottle and use it for feeding the baby. He used to eat around 2-3 oz. at each feeding, so the 5 oz. bottles were enough for my use, for times when I pumped more than he could eat.

The pump came with the following items:

2 – 5 oz/150 mL breastmilk bottles
2 – solid lids
1 – travel cap
1 – slow-flow silicone nipple
1 – wide base collar

Medela Bottle & Its Parts

After a few weeks, I got the Medela Symphony® Breastpump rental pump (see my other post for more details on this pump), and I purchased the accessory kit for it from Babies R Us ($52.99), which contained the following items:
2 – 5 oz/150 mL breastmilk bottles
2 – solid lids
Other pump accessories (see my other post for more details)

Since I now have four Medela 5oz bottles and only 1 nipple for them, I had ordered Medela Wide Base Nipple – 3 Pk – Medium Flow from Diapers.com for about $6.00.

My verdict on the Medela Bottles:

Pros:

  • Small and narrow
  • Easy to use
  • Light weight
  • Fit perfectly
  • Easy to clean – not many parts

Cons:

  • My major complaint is that it was not very good with the flow – there is no advanced technology that lets air into the bottle, which helps ensure a smooth flow of milk out of the bottle. So every few seconds, the nipple would collapse within itself, thereby stopping the flow of milk. The baby would then let go of the nipple, take a few breaths and start over. Sometimes when he was really hungry, he would get frustrated and start crying. Apparently this has been corrected with their new Calma range, but I haven’t tried it.
  • Some leaks from the collar when it was threaded incorrectly (which is of course expected with a wrong thread)

Philips Avent

As I started pumping more milk, I wanted to try the Philips Avent bottles. I went on Philips website  for USA into the “bottle feeding” section. Why Philips? Simply put, at that time I saw all the baby websites mention Philips bottles as having very high standards and I also got good referrals from my friends and family who had used them before.

Nipple Type

The first step in buying the right Philips bottle is to select the nipple type. See the chart below that suggests what nipple you should use for each stage of your baby’s development. Since my little one was still getting used to the bottle and was around 2 months old, I chose the Slow Flow (1m+) nipple.
  1. The Newborn nipple with 1 hole is recommended for 0-3 months, or for babies that are both breastfed and bottle-fed.
  2. The Slow Flow nipple with 2 holes is recommended for 1 month plus.
  3. The Medium Flow nipple with 3 holes is recommended for 3 months plus.
  4. The Fast Flow nipple is recommended for 6 months plus.

Philips also offers a variable flow nipple for an extra fast flow and thicker liquids. It has a slot cut into it which provides an adjustable flow rate. The flow rate can be varied by turning the bottle to align the I, II or III markings on the nipple with the baby’s nose. The variable flow nipple is suitable for babies aged 3 months and upwards. Next to this they offer a special thick feed nipple that is great for thicker feeds. It is recommended for 6 months plus.

Ideas of when to change the flow rate:

  • If you are breastfeeding, stay with the newborn nipple because it is designed to match the flow rate of the mother.
  • If your child becomes frustrated at meal times, you may see them suckling hard then pulling away crying and suckling hard again – this could be an indication that the flow rate is too slow.
  • If it seems like your baby is taking longer than 20 to 30 minutes to finish a bottle – this may also be an indication that the flow is too slow.

Bottle Type – Classic or Natural

The next step is to choose the type of bottle you would like to use. Avent produces two types of bottles – Classic and Natural.

The Classic bottle comes with the following (you can also buy all of these spare parts separately on various websites):

1 – Classic Cap
1 – Classic Screw ring
1 – Classic Slow Flow 1m+ Nipple
1 – Adapter ring
1 – 9 oz Bottle

Philips Avent Classic Bottle & Parts

The Natural bottle comes with the following (you can also buy all of these spare parts separately on various websites):

1. 1 – Natural 9 oz Bottle
2. 1 – Natural Cap
3. 1 – Natural Screw ring
4. 1 – Natural Slow Flow 1m+ Nipple

Philips Avent Natural Bottle & Parts
Philips Avent Bottle Comparison Chart

Bottle Compatibility

If you have bought both types to test them out and some parts are missing but you do not want to spend more just on parts, you can still use them together. Here’s a handy chart to see what works with what.

My Verdict on the Philips Bottles:

These bottles are supposedly proven to reduce colic-like symptoms in babies. After using them for the past three months, I have nothing to report – either affirming or discrediting – this position from my testing period so far. I never experienced any leakage with the Natural or Classic Philips AVENT styles, and they all washed well. Overall, I’d give both styles high marks in performance, durability, and ease-of-use. The baby also did not seem to have much preference of one type over the other.

I personally like the Natural bottles better for the following reasons:

  1. Less number of parts (than the Classic bottle, which has an extra ring)
  2. Easy to assemble – Just 3 parts and the cap, and you are ready to go.
  3. Easy to clean
  4. Easy to hold, Ergonomic shape – has a nice little dent in the middle so baby can start holding the bottle as early as 4 months.
  5. Dishwasher & microwave safe – that’s the best part, isn’t it!
  6. Wide neck – Baby has a more natural latch on the bottle as it resembles the nipple.
  7. Less air in the milk, and smoother flow (I have personally seen the air bubbles flow into the bottle while the baby sucks on the bottle, making the flow really smooth and uninterrupted)

Helpful & Important Tips for purchasing Baby Bottles:

  • A lot of stores like Wal-Mart, Babies R Us, Target, Burlington Coat Factory-Baby, etc. offer coupons and sales, so it might be worth a try to shop around a little bit before you purchase the bottles.
  • Buy one each of whatever bottles you would like to try, so you can go back and buy more of them later once you know which one suits your baby better. But be prepared to have a mismatched set of bottles unless you replace these trial bottles with a new complete set.

Summary:

So for the first four months, I used the following:

  • 4 – Medela 5oz/150 mL breastmilk bottles
  • 1 – Philips AVENT Natural 9oz/260mL Bottle
  • 1 – Philips AVENT Classic 9oz/260mL Bottle
  • 25 – Lansinoh Breastmilk storage bags
After 6 months of using these, I had to replace them all due to a sterilizing mishap (yikes!) so now I have 4 Philips AVENT Natural 9oz/260mL Bottles which I wash every alternate day (as he usually drinks milk only twice a day now).

Resources for more comparisons and data
http://www.babygearlab.com/Baby-Bottle-Reviews

More to come later… as the baby transitions to next stages. 🙂

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