Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Choosing Your Bottle-feeding Equipment

There is such a bewildering choice of bottles, teats, sterilizers and other paraphernalia available in the shops that most mothers don't know where to begin. Besides, not all shop assistants are well informed about the merits of the different types of bottles, teats, etc., and therefore may not give you all the information you need to make an informed choice. This article should cover pretty much everything you could ever want or need to know about bottle-feeding equipment and will help you make decisions about what to buy. Bottle-feeding is not just a question of throwing any formula into any old bottle and then expecting your baby to feed perfectly.


Although some equipment is essential (like bottles), you don’t have to buy everything that s an offer – for example. You don’t need a bottle warmer.

The main advantage in buying all the correct kit is that it will make the sterilization and preparation of bottles easier, but the downside of buying more than you need is that it will clutter up your kitchen and will then have to be stored until the next baby.

I suggest that you start by only getting in the essentials and then buy more things as and when you need them. Ideally, you will decide which brand of products you like the best, then stick to buying within that particular range, as the products will be designed to interact with each other. For example, the Avent bottles will fit onto the Avent breast pump and will also pack perfectly into the Avent steam sterilizer, but will not fit onto other pumps and vice versa.

You will need:
• six 260 ml (9 oz) bottles
• six teats
• a bottle brush
• a steam sterilizer or sterilizing solution or tablets

Note: You will not need six bottles if you are making up feeds individually and you begin bottle-feeding when your baby is having fewer than six feeds a day.


There are many different types of baby bottles on the market, and they all work, However, each manufacturer will give reasons as to why theirs is the best, so it is quite difficult to choose which one to buy. Despite all the claims, I have not found that any one bottle “works” substantially better than another, but these are my tips:

• Wide-neck bottles are easier to make up feeds in than the narrow-neck bottles.
• Narrow-neck bottles will fit onto some breast pumps (e.g., Medela), so might be a better purchase if you are using these pumps.
• It is more beneficial to start off using small 150 ml (5 oz) bottles but this is unnecessary and a waste of money. The 260 ml (9 oz) bottles work just as well, and you will need this size eventually anyway.
• A baby that is feeding badly or “messily” may feed better from a different type of bottle and teat — you will need to experiment to see what suits him best.
• Some anti-colic bottles are very fiddly to clean and assemble; I would not opt for these if you establish that your baby cannot feed well from a more basic bottle.
• Disposable bottles, or bottles with disposable liners, are useful if you are traveling and can't easily sterilize. The Playtex bottle is excellent and is very economical, as you only throw away the liner rather than the whole bottle.

Note: I do not think that breastfed babies need to be given special bottle and teats to avoid causing “nipple/teat confusion.” But if you are breastfeeding (and giving some bottles), you should avoid using a fast-flow teat that makes it much easier for your baby to feed on the bottle than your breast. If this happens, your baby might prefer the more comfortable option and start rejecting your breast in favor of the bottle.


Teats come in all shapes and sizes, with variable flow rates and a choice of silicone or latex. Most babies will feed well from a standard teat, but as with bottles, some teats will suit one baby better than another.

• Most wide-neck bottles can only be used with their brand teats (e.g., you can't put a Nuk teat on an Avent bottle).
• Narrow-neck bottles are more versatile and will take any teat that is designed for narrow bottles.
• Silicone teats are more expensive than latex teats but are mores durable and need replacing less often.
•Latex teats are often (but not always) softer than silicone and make feeding easier for babies with a weak suck (e.g., very premature babies).
• You can also enlarge the hole in a latex teat (using a glowing hot needle), which is useful if your baby needs a very fast flow of milk. You can't do this with silicone teats.
• Choose a teat that is the right size for the age of your baby (this will be clearly labeled) and then experiment to see whether he likes a slow-, medium- or fast-flow teat — the medium-flow is usually a good one to start with.
• It should take your baby roughly 10-20 minutes/to empty the bottle. If he takes much longer than this, he needs a faster teat, and he needs a slower teat if he is feeding too fast.
•Vari-flow teats are designed to release the milk at a rate which varies according to how strongly the baby sucks. This allows the baby to feed quickly when he is very hungry and to feed more slowly at other times. This teat can also be useful when you are trying to persuade a “lazy” baby to suck more strongly.


Electric steam sterilizers will sterilize anything you put into them (breast pumps, dummies, etc.) but it's helpful to pick one that accommodates the type of bottles you are using. You will still be able to sterilize other bottles, but they may not pack in as efficiently. Steam sterilizers are very easy to use, take between five and eight minutes to sterilize the contents, and come with clear instructions.

Microwave sterilizers work in much the same way, apart from the fact that you must own a microwave oven to operate them. They are smaller, lighter, cheaper and more portable than electric sterilizers, but will be less versatile if you regularly visit family or friends who do not have a microwave oven. They will sterilize bottles in as little as two minutes.

Sterilizing fluid or tablets are useful to take away with you on holiday or when you visit friends and family to save you packing a lot of bulky sterilizing equipment. You can buy a particular sterilizing unit or use any non-metallic container (e.g., a plastic jug, ice-cream container or Pyrex bowl), which you fill with ordinary tap water and a measure of sterilizing solution or tablets. All items to be sterilized must be fully submerged in the water (you may need to use a saucer to weigh them down) and then left to soak for 15-30 minutes. The main disadvantage of this method is that the solution needs to be changed every 24 hours and the chemicals are fairly tough on your hands, which can become dry and chapped. You are also advised to rinse all items with cooled boiled water before you use them, Sterilising fluid and tablets can be bought from any chemist and come with full instructions.


These are not essential, as you can easily heat bottles in a jug of hot water or a microwave oven (providing you don't overheat the milk). A bottle-warmer will often take slightly longer to heat the milk and will clutter a small kitchen - but they are useful at night if the baby's bedroom is a long way from the kitchen.

Note: A study has shown that standard feeding bottles leak a small amount of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) when heated. There is insignificant proof to show that this is harmful to babies, but it is possible for anxious parents to buy plastic bottles that are free from BPA. Glass feeding bottles are also available.


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