Choosing Bottle-Feeding Equipment - What You Need To Bottle-Feed Your Baby
If your baby displays fussy feeding behavior, you might start to wonder if the bottle or nipple is to blame. How do you know if the equipment your baby is using is the best choice for your baby? This article explains what to look for when purchasing baby bottles and nipples.
- Infant formula.
- Bottles with caps.
- Feeding nipples.
- Bottle and nipple brush for cleaning.
- Insulated bottle carry bag.
- Sterilizing equipment - a large plastic or glass container for chemical sterilization, or an electric or microwave steam sterilizing unit, or just a large saucepan for boiling.
- Knife (to level off milk powder). Plastic is easier to sterilize than metal.
- Measuring jug, with fork or whisk (not necessary if you make up the formula directly in the bottles.
Your choice of feeding nipple is much more important than your choice of bottle when it comes to bottle feeding your baby. The cheapest bottles are just as suitable as expensive ones. Plain shapes are the easiest to clean. Some manufacturers claim their bottles offer 'anti-colic' properties, but there's no proof that this is true.
Glass or plastic?
This is really a matter of personal choice. For safety purposes plastic is advisable.
Large or small?
Bottles generally come in two different sizes; 4 1/2 oz (120ml) or 9 oz (240ml).
As a newborn, the amount of milk your baby will drink will fit in the small bottles. However, as he grows he will need to be offered larger amounts, which means you may need to use large bottles by the time he's two months old (or sooner). Therefore, it may be more economical to use the large bottles to begin with, as the large bottles should last right up to the time he's ready to drink from a cup.
You will need at least two bottles to allow time for sterilization of feeding equipment. However, if you purchase enough bottles to cover a 24 hour period, you can prepare a whole day's supply in advance. To achieve this we recommend:
- 6 large and 2 small bottles for a newborn.
- 5 or 6 large bottles for a 3 month old.
- 4 or 5 large bottles for a 6 month old.
- 3 or 4 large bottles for a 9 month old.
Latex (rubber) or silicone nipples?
You can choose from latex or silicone nipples. Silicone nipples are firmer and hold their shape longer. Latex nipples are softer and more flexible. Latex may not last as long as silicone, particularly if you are planning on using a sterilization method that uses any form of heat, such as boiling or steam sterilizing.
You have a choice in nipple shapes - traditional, orthodontic or flat-topped. Although a baby may prefer the shape of one over another, there's no evidence that proves one shape is better than another.
In choosing a nipple, you will be faced with all sorts of marketing ploys claiming a particular nipple "duplicates the shape of a human nipple". This is not true - a synthetic nipple could never duplicate a human nipple... it doesn't need to. Bottle feeding requires a very different sucking action to that required during breast feeding. (This is why many babies have trouble weaning from breast to bottle).
Choosing a nipple of the right length for your baby is important. If the nipple is too large or long he could gag and vomit. If it's too short, it could be difficult for him to maintain suction and/or he may swallow air while feeding. A nipple that just reaches his soft palate is generally a good length
Nipples are also available in different flow speeds. The number and/or size of the holes in the nipple will determine how fast your baby feeds. Younger babies need to feed much more slowly than older babies. (See How long should feeding take? for recommendations times for different ages).
Manufacturers normally provide a guide by labelling packaging and nipples as:
- Birth - 3 months
- 3 - 6 months
- Over 6 months
(Check on the rim of the nipple for this). However, following these guides doesn't guarantee the nipple speed is right for your individual baby.
Finding just the right feeding nipple for your baby may require a little trial and error, so it may be wise to purchase the minimum number possible until you're confident with your choice. Once you have found a nipple that suits your baby, it's best to use the same type of nipple for every feed to avoid confusing him, so you may wish to purchase a nipple for each bottle.
Written by Rowena Bennett