I am often asked, “What is the best bottle for my breastfed baby?” Every bottle manufacturer seems to claim theirs is the best and they always tout how theirs is most similar to feeding at the breast. And while some are
better than others, there’s no perfect bottle. There are some things to look for in a bottle, though. Here are 5 tips for finding the best bottle for your breastfed baby:
- Narrow teat doesn’t necessarily mean wider latch
While breastfeeding, it’s important for baby to have a wide latch – hence why we call it “breast” feeding and not “nipple” feeding. In an effort to portray bottle feeding like breastfeeding, manufacturers created the “wide mouth” bottle supposedly so babies could have a nice, wide latch even while bottle feeding. However, wide-mouth bottles are so wide that many babies end up with a very shallow latch. The best way to find a teat that your baby can have a wide latch on is to test out several and see what works best for your little one.
- Select a slow-flow nipple.
Breastfeeding has bursts and pauses in its milk flow. There are times during a feed when a baby is getting lots of milk (during the milk ejection reflex when you “let down”) and then periods where there is a pause. Bottle feeding, on the other hand, tends to have a constant flow. Finding a bottle with the slowest flow your baby will allow is especially helpful if your baby switches between bottle and breastfeeding. The best way to find a slow-flow nipple is to try out several by turning the bottle upside down and watching the rate at which milk flows out.
- Bigger is not necessarily better.
A breastfed baby from 6 weeks of age until solids are started takes in roughly the same amount of milk in a 24 hour period. (Typically between 25-32 oz a day.) If your baby eats around 8 times a day, that would be roughly 3-4 oz of milk each time. (Of course sometimes a baby eats more and other times less – just like we might have a larger meal or a snack.) Find a bottle that suits your needs – there is no need to get a larger bottle thinking your baby will consume more and more breast milk as the weeks go by. (You may be interested to read this article if your caregiver says your baby needs more milk.)
- Find a bottle you can pump directly into.
If you’re a working mama you already know the word b-u-s-y all too well. Anything you can do to simplify your life is essential. There are many bottles that will attach directly to your pump and save you extra steps. If this makes your life easier, definitely consider this as you make bottle purchases.
- Don’t break the piggy bank.
These days bottles range from a few dollars to $40 or more! There’s a lot to think about, but if your baby is breastfed, then the majority of his/her feeds will come at your breast rather than the bottle anyway. There are many good bottles out there, that won’t break the bank. It may take buying several and trying them out – or better yet checking out a friend’s stash so you can confidently purchase just a couple – but an affordable bottle can be found. For a breastfeeding mom who’s returning to work, it is not necessary to consider buying a bottle with a steep price tag.