Gina Mydlo, PT, DPT
How to Choose the Right Bottle for Baby
If you've downloaded our free guide on How to Buy for Baby, then you know that as an infant feeding expert, Laura ONLY recommends using bottles with a standard nipple.
First of all, let's talk nipple shape! There are essentially two categories: standard size, and everything else.
You can see that the nipple on the top row is a standard size shape. It is narrow at the base, next to the white plastic collar.
The bottom row are examples of other types of nipples, typically called wide mouthed nipples, or wide mouthed bottles. They are all shaped a little bit differently, but the main difference is that the nipple is very wide at the bottom where it hits the plastic collar. You can see that each of the wide mouthed nipples are all shaped a little differently at the top and have different ridging.
So why do we recommend the standard size?
Baby can ONLY latch correctly to a standard sized nipple. There's a lot that goes into a baby having correct latch (which we show you in detail in Baby's Best Start). But put simply, when a baby latches correctly to a bottle, his lips should be touching the plastic collar. If a baby is offered a wide mouthed bottle, he will only latch to the top part of that nipple (the narrowest part), and he will be unable to get his lips down to the plastic collar because it is way too wide.
But how can that be? Haven't you seen the advertisement on the other bottles??⠀
“Shaped like a breast. Feels like a breast.” ⠀ "The most natural way to bottle feed"⠀ "Allows baby to engage in natural sucking actions" ⠀ "Easy to combine with breastfeeding"⠀ "Designed to reduce feeding issues such as colic" ⠀
All of those statements advertise wide mouthed nipple bottles. So all of those statements are 100% FALSE.⠀
When a baby breastfeeds, she takes in mom's nipple AND breast tissue. Baby does not latch to just the narrowest part of mom's nipple. And if baby does, then that is considered a shallow latch and it is often painful and very problematic, causing a whole host of issues for mom and baby.
So when baby latches properly to a bottle with a standard nipple, he uses the patterns which mimics breastfeeding, which supports feeding skills for later in life. When baby is latched well, there is good suction to the nipple, so baby does not take in excess air, which is what helps prevent reflux and gassiness. No fancy “venting system” can replace a proper latch to a bottle. And no "breast shaped" nipple can support a good latch.
Now that you know you need a standard nipple size - let's talk options!
There are actually only THREE bottles on the market right now that offer a standard nipple.
Dr. Brown's™ (Original, Options+™, Options+™ Glass Natural Flow®)
We get questions all the time like...
"But what about this bottle..."
"This one doesn't say wide mouthed, is it OK to use?"
Our answer is - you'd be better off without it! Unless it's a standard nipple from one of those companies, we don't typically recommend you use it.
***Big disclaimer here: We are feeding specialists that work with babies who experience a wide severity of feeding issues. There may be circumstances where baby must use a different bottle or bottle system due to the child's particular situation. But for the vast majority of typically developing infants without other feeding issues, these are the bottles we recommend.***
Are there differences between these three bottles?
It's more of a personal preference, but there are certain differences that you may consider when deciding which bottle to use with baby.
Dr. Brown's™ is a really popular brand, and is easily found in all major baby stores. This makes it convenient if you need to run out and get additional bottles quickly. They are reasonably priced. I also like that they offer lower priced plastic bottles, in addition to glass bottles for those who prefer to reduce the amount of plastic they buy. The Original bottle requires you to use the fancy venting system, but with the Options+ you can remove the venting system. Our feeding expert, Laura Pierce, CCC-SLP, CLC suggests the venting systems are not necessary if you are positioning baby appropriately and baby has a strong latch. If you choose the Options+ and remove the venting system, it makes clean-up a whole lot easier!
Original Lifefactory® Glass Baby Bottles are all glass covered with very trendy, colorful silicone sleeves that make these bottles really good looking. Since they are of higher quality materials, they are of course a bit more expensive. That being said, they may last longer than regular plastic bottles so you shouldn't have to replace them. This company also offers wide-mouth nippled bottles so make sure you are getting the original, standard nipple size.
Nuk/Gerber® First Essentials
Nuk/Gerber® First Essentials bottles are the least expensive out of these choices. But that doesn't mean they won't get the job done! These bottles have the smallest nipple, so if you have a very small baby or a premature baby, this bottle might be the best choice in the beginning until baby's mouth grows larger to handle the larger nipple sizes.
Congratulations! You can now confidently pick out a bottle that will support the strongest latch and promote baby's oral motor skills! This is a huge step in preventing reflux, gassiness, overeating, bottle aversion, and many other common feeding issues.
Now that you have the right bottle, the next step is learning what a good, strong latch actually looks and feels like, and how you can properly position baby to promote successful feeding skills. In our online course - Baby's Best Start - we explain exactly how baby latches to the breast and bottle, how you can position baby to feed correctly to prevent all of those common feeding issues (gas, reflux, colic, nipple aversion, over-eating), and most importantly, we show you how to turn your baby into an EXPERT feeder.⠀
Gina Mydlo, PT, DPT