Buying Guide to Baby Feeding

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Feeding baby is a satisfying task made even more enjoyable with the ideal feeding tools. Once you've consulted with your pediatrician about your child's diet, use this guide to find the best options for baby's dining pleasure.

Baby Feeding

What are the different styles of bottles and which is right for you and your baby?

Whether you bottle feed baby formula or breast milk, you require a bottle that works for you both. Consider the features and advantages of the various types of bottles before making your decision.

*Standard.

Straight-edged standard bottles have been around for many years. Such bottles can be found in glass and plastic and are reusable and easy to clean. If you want to prevent gas in baby, pair such bottles with gas-reducing nipples, as the bottles themselves have no special features to keep gas at bay.

*Natural feeding.

If preventing gas is at the top of your list, choose natural feeding bottles, which possess trademarked venting or anti-vacuum designs that reduce air flow to baby, decreasing the possibility of gas. Such bottles are generally sold as part of a bottle system (see The Details section).

*Angled.

When you feed in a semi-upright position, angled bottles are the most comfortable for baby and you. Choose a nipple designed to reduce air flow to baby in order to prevent gas.

*Liner style.

Though they are often referred to as disposable bottles, the only part you throw away after use is the plastic pre-sterilized liner that you insert into the bottle and secure with a screw-on ring before filling with milk. The plastic liners collapse as baby feeds, removing air bubbles. Once baby finishes eating, you throw out the liner.

How do you determine which nipple type to use?

A wide variety of nipple types exist, and it may take some experimentation to see which nipple works best for baby. When choosing, keep in mind that not all nipples and bottles are compatible and some feature venting or anti-vacuum designs that help prevent baby from swallowing gas-producing air.

*Natural shape nipples feel like a breast, which makes these nipples useful if baby switches from breast to bottle. This type of nipple usually comes as part of a natural feeding bottle system.

*Age appropriate nipples are designed to release the proper flow of milk to baby depending on his age level. For example, too fast of a flow to a newborn can be problematic. Very small nipple openings are often Stage 1, and nipples are marked with their size and suggested age range.

*Orthodontic shaped nipples are designed to promote healthy oral development

What's the difference between silicone and latex nipples?

Silicone nipples are firm, long-lasting and hold their shape well. They are clear in color, odorless and heat resistant. Latex nipples are gold to brown in color and are softer and more flexible than silicone. Latex is a porous material that can allow build-up of bacteria, and latex is susceptible to cracking.

Are any feeding products more likely to help prevent or minimize gassiness in baby?

After checking with your pediatrician regarding managing baby's gassiness and fussiness, choose a nipple that decreases the flow of air to baby's tummy. Try bottle systems that indicate they are designed to reduce gas. Because every baby is unique, you may need to try several nipple styles before you find the one that works best for your child.

Should you use plastic or glass bottles?

Plastic and glass bottles both have their advantages. Which type you choose will depend on your preferences and needs.

*Glass was once the only bottle type available. It has stood the test of time and is reusable, dishwasher safe, long-lasting, and glass resists the build-up of bacteria. Glass can break, crack or chip, although there are silicone sleeves that you can slip over the glass to help prevent the possibility of shattering.

*Plastic bottles are quite common and will not shatter, although they may crack over time. Many of today's plastic bottles are free of the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) and are safe for baby.

What are the various bottle sizes, and how many should you get?

Bottles range in size from 4 to 9 ounces. You'll require small bottles initially and larger ones as baby and his appetite grow. For this reason, it's a good idea to get a range of bottle sizes. How many bottles you require depends on whether you'll be formula or breastfeeding and how much time you have available to wash reusable bottles. In general, you'll need from four to 12 bottles on hand.

Do you need a bottle warmer?

A bottle warmer may sound like an unnecessary luxury now, but after a few sleepless nights of heating up baby's bottles to just the right temperature the old-fashioned way, you're likely to give a bottle warmer a closer look.

Bottle warmers thoroughly and safely heat bottle contents in minutes without boiling. This means baby's milk is the perfect temperature every time and there is no possibility of dangerous hot spots. Some bottle warming models have a chilling chamber that makes it unnecessary to leave the nursery. When baby gets hungry, you simply slip the bottle out of the chilling chamber and into the warming chamber.

Most bottle warmers hold any style bottle and can even warm baby food jars. Some models can be plugged into the car lighter and many have auto-off. And some even have the added capability of being able to make baby food.

Do you need a bottle sterilizer?

Although most bottles and accessories are dishwasher safe, you may prefer the convenience of a bottle sterilizer. Since you can even throw in pacifiers and parts of your breast pump, a bottle sterilizer may become one of your most popular kitchen appliances. If counter space is limited, you can use quick steam bags, which remove 99.9% of household bacteria and are even reusable. Check the manufacturer's instructions on all items to ensure you follow the recommended steps to sterilize your baby stuff safely. Also be sure to discuss bottle safety with your Pediatrician.

What is the advantage of disposable verses reusable bottles?

Unlike reusable bottles, disposable bottles use pre-sterilized liners which are inserted into the bottle and secured by screwing on the top. They reduce clean-up time, as when baby is done, the liner is removed and discarded. Reusable bottles must be properly cleaned after each feeding.

Some parent's prefer the convenience of a bottle system.

A bottle system is a combination of bottles and nipples specially designed to work together to reduce the flow of air to baby, which helps minimize gas and fussiness. Such a ready-made system is convenient, as it takes the guesswork out of which nipples to pair with which bottles.

Many bottle systems feature disposable liners, and the liners are convenient for pumping and then storing breast milk in the refrigerator or freezer. (Discuss proper breast milk storage with your pediatrician.)

Bottles and nipples require sterilizing after every feeding and before the first use. Either put the bottles and their parts in the dishwasher on the appropriate rack, or get a bottle sterilizer. Such a device safely and efficiently cleans bottles, nipples, washable breast pump parts and even pacifiers.

How do you know when it's time to replace nipples?

Worn out nipples can be dangerous for baby, so it's important to replace them when you see any of the following signs:

  • Fast flow of milk, especially with early stage nipples, as this indicates a crack or tear.
  • Discoloration, stickiness or swelling.
  • Thinning and weakening. A nipple should spring back readily when pulled.