Guide to Bottles
Ask any parent to describe their top ten baby essentials; baby feeding bottles will most likely feature near the top. If you choose not to breast feed, then a bottle is the only way to give your baby nutrition. If you do breast feed, then a bottle can be useful for feeding your baby when it is inconvenient to breast feed.
As with most baby products, the market is packed with different options. This simple overview will compile the most popular bottle options, whilst listing the advantages and disadvantages of each different type.
Types of Bottles
There are two main types of feeding bottle: glass bottles and plastic bottles.
Glass bottles are the less common of the two types but have several advantages over plastic. They are easy to clean, sterilise and leave no residue from the milk/formula. Glass is also much easier to recycle than plastic, so it is environmentally friendly as well.
Glass bottles can be risky though; they are heavy and will shatter if dropped, presenting a danger to your baby. They may also chip whilst being washed, again making them slightly hazardous. We recommend using silicone bottle covers to help minimise many of these hazards.
Plastic bottles can be made out of polypropylene, polycarbonate or PES (polyethersulfone). The polypropylene variant is the lower quality plastic out of the three and has a slightly milky colouring. PES is of a higher quality and can withstand super high temperatures. One of the best advantages of plastic bottles is that they are durable and shatterproof unlike glass.
Modern plastic bottles exclude BPA (Bisphenol A) which has been found to leach from certain plastics at high temperatures. Studies have shown that BPA can lead to numerous health problems in children, including disruption of growth and development. Most bottles these days are BPA free, but always be aware when making a purchase and try to avoid bottles that feature BPA, as the studies are on-going with revelations being made daily.
Glass and plastic bottles can come in various sizes and shapes. Some bottles hold more than others and can feature handles for the baby to feed themselves. There are also right angled bottles that can reduce colic, making your baby less likely to develop uncomfortable gas. Try to choose the most suitable one dependant on how hungry or independent your baby is.
Types of Teats
Teats are usually supplied with bottles and are commonly made out of either silicone or latex.
Silicone teats are durable and more suitable for older babies whilst latex teats are softer and therefore perfect for new-borns who have sensitive gums.
Flow rate is an important consideration if you are buying your first bottle or need to replace a damaged teat. Flow rate controls how much milk is allowed to pass through the teat, and as your child grows, they will need a faster flow rate to satisfy their hunger. On the teat you will see tiny holes; the higher the flow rate, the more holes there will be.
When to change a baby’s bottle
You should replace your baby’s bottle if it starts to become cracked or chipped which could harm your child; this is particularly important with glass bottles, so check for damage regularly.
When to change a Teat
Teats should be changed immediately if any of the following occurs:
· Milk pours out in a stream. Liquid should drip slowly from the teat. If it gushes out then the teat holes are too big.
· Discoloration —a sign that the teat is deteriorating
· Thinning — this is an early sign that the teat is weakening. To test a teats strength, pull hard on the bulb. The teat should rebound into its original shape. If it doesn’t, throw away the teat.
· Stickiness or swelling — a sign that the teat is deteriorating.
· Cracks, tears, or breaks — pieces of the teat could break off and become a choking hazard.
How to warm up bottles
The safest way to heat a baby bottle is to heat the milk while it’s in the bottle. This can be done in two ways:
- Place the bottle in a jug full of hot or boiling water. Leave it for several minutes and then remove. Don’t leave it for too long, otherwise it will be too hot for your baby.
- Buy a dedicated bottle warmer. These are great for getting your baby’s milk to the right temperature and can also be used to heat up food.
It is recommended that you avoid using a microwave to heat up baby milk. Microwaves heat food unevenly, so one part of the milk maybe warm but another might be scorching hot. The super high temperatures may even destroy some of the valuable nutrients in the milk.
When you have warmed your baby’s bottle, test the temperature of the milk by squirting a little on to your inner wrist. The skin on your wrist is more sensitive than other parts, so it is a good indicator for temperatures. The milk on your skin should feel warm, not hot.
When to sterilise a bottle
Bottles and teats should be sterilised after every feed. You could submerge them in boiling water for ten minutes and then wash them in soapy water or you can use a dedicated steriliser, which will get the job done much faster.
Bottle sterilising has been common for hundreds of years. In the 17th and 18th centuries, there was a high mortality rate among infants who were fed cow’s milk. Batches of bottles would be made but with no way to refrigerate them, the milk would become contaminated with bacteria. Water in those days was unmonitored and filthy, so cleaning it under a tap would have done no good.
Modern technology continues to innovate all areas of the world including baby-feeding items. You can now purchase self-sterilising bottles and self warming bottles, which will undoubtedly make any parents life easier by offering a convenient feeding solution.