So. Many. Choices. Which bottle is best? Off to the internet to get answers, right? Then you are met with the overwhelming claims made by different companies. This one says “anti colic”. That one says “close to breast”. Is one better than the other? Does it matter about flow? Can a bottle really be just like a breast? SimpliFed is here to help navigate!
Don’t fall for the marketing ploy of “closest to breast”. If bottles could be JUST like breasts- it would make parent’s jobs much easier. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible. There are no bottles that are JUST like breasts. It is near impossible to mimic the flow, feel, and expansion of nipple and breast tissue when the breast is encompassed by your baby’s mouth. Let’s let bottles be their own champion of that type of feeding. No need to compare!
When choosing a bottle there are a few things to consider. The first thing that you want to look for something that is BPA free (read more about BPA here). The rest of the recommendations will vary on your child and your feeding goals.
Breast + Bottle Feeding
Bear in mind that the way your child feeds on the bottle can affect the way they feed at the breast. As they feed at the breast, they become familiar with the process of latching and how it feels.
Tip to base transition
At the breast, your baby is latching onto breast tissue behind the nipple. When latching on the bottle, we want to mimic this and avoid baby latching onto just the tip of the nipple. Therefore, those odd shaped bottle nipple tips will do nothing to improve the latching or feeding process with the bottle. In addition, the transition from the tip to base of the nipple should be gradual. If it is not, while sucking, your baby will continue to pull further onto the nipple tip. If they master latching onto a bottle with a shallow latch, they will attempt to latch similarly at the breast. Possibly causing nipple damage or major discomfort. Ideally, when your baby is latched onto the bottle nipple, their lips should be closer to the collar of the bottle/nipple than the tip of the nipple. Using bottle nipples that have a wider base and gradual slope will emulate the process of latching at the breast.
Your baby is able to control the flow of milk they get by their sucking pattern or by compressing the nipple to stop or slow the flow while at the breast. While drinking from a bottle, it is a bit different. A bottle does not require stimulation to release milk. Gravity alone will allow milk to come out. Add in the suction from your baby, and flow can become intense for your baby to keep up with causing them to gulp or have a “flow preference”. Oftentimes we hear this referred to as “nipple confusion”. This term is misleading though! Your baby isn’t so much confused by the nipple, but the process in which they latch and feed. They experience an easier feeding from the bottle because the flow is typically faster than when they are at the breast. Because your baby is already turning into a little genius, they are smart by choosing the easier task. However, having this flow preference could make the transition to and from breast and bottle can be frustrating for both you and baby. Using a “slow flow” nipple can limit the amount of milk flowing out at a time. Making it necessary for your baby to work a little harder to get milk out. This is a good thing though! By using a slow flow nipple in conjunction with paced feeding; you reduce the risk of tummy troubles, over feeding, and flow preference.
Bottle shape & volume
Bigger is not always better, When feeding breastmilk in a bottle, very rarely are you going to go over the typical 4-5 oz bottle. So no need to spend more money on bigger bottles! This is a little different when using formula, as it is dose dependent.
For the sake of paced feeding, it can be helpful to use a bottle that has an ergonomic shape. Just because it looks like a breast- does not mean it will act like a breast. Or that it will guarantee your baby will take it. Make sure that you are comfortable holding it and that the shape doesn’t hinder paced feeding.
Exclusively Bottle Feeding
While exclusively bottle feeding (regardless of what you are feeding) it is still important to consider the flow, tip to base transition, and the bottle shape/volume. Milk flow can still affect overfeeding and tummy troubles- keeping it slow prevents that! The way your baby latches onto anything (be it a bottle, pacifier, or thumb) the placement assists in oral development and hygiene. As explained above, the bottle does not HAVE to look like a breast. Whatever is comfortable for you and baby!
The Bottom of the Bottle
Use these recommendations as a starting point of choosing which bottle to try. Ultimately, it comes down to your baby accepting the bottle. No matter the bottle, use a safe feeding method such as paced feeding, responsive feeding, and ensure your baby’s needs are being met. If you have further questions, text us at 888-458-1364 to get help from a Baby Feeding Expert.