Whether you plan on breastfeeding your baby exclusively or giving your baby a bottle from the beginning, we recommend every family to have a few baby bottles on hand when they welcome home their newborn. Some of the reasons are: that breastfeeding can be difficult. Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned. Or your child might have a milk allergy, and supplementing with formula might need to become an option. And the most common reason a breastfeeding baby may need to take a bottle is that sometimes mom may have to be away from her child before baby’s next feeding. Or mom might want her partner to help with feeding.
Because newborns typically eat every 2-4 hours, pumping allows mothers to build up an emergency freezer stash of breast milk if she ever needs a little break or has to be away before baby’s next feeding. But not all breastfed babies have the easiest time accepting a baby bottle when they’ve been breastfed. This is why it’s helpful to have bottles that have been successful with breastfed babies.
Do certain bottles really make a difference?
Yes and no. As a postpartum doula who has worked with hundreds of families, I’ve found that it really comes down to your baby and their specific needs and preferences. Some babies will accept the first bottle you give them. Others will be very picky and will down-right refuse the bottle until you give them one that they deem acceptable. But since there are tons of different bottles on the market, there are certain things that you can do with your baby and look for in a bottle to have success. Finding the best bottles for breastfed babies can help that transition and make it easier for you and baby. This way, we hope to spare you from buying and trying 12 different baby bottles before finding the right one for your baby.
When to Offer Your Baby a Bottle
When is the right time to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby, you ask? Most lactation consultants recommend waiting until breastfeeding is well established and baby is 4-6 weeks old. However, I’ve experienced some infants refusing the bottle at 6 weeks old. This is why I suggest offering baby a bottle between 2-4 weeks old.
How and How Often Should You Offer Your Baby a Bottle
Only offer your baby a bottle 3-4 times a week and no more than once a day. Keeping it familiar but not too frequent should keep baby comfortable with the artificial nipple while also maintaining a strong breastfeeding relationship. Offering a bottle more frequently can cause your baby to prefer the bottle over the breast. If this happens, offer the bottle less frequently until breastfeeding is back on track.
When offering the bottle to your breastfed baby, you should practice paced bottle feeding. This helps the parent mimic the flow and rhythm of breastfeeding.
What to Look for When Choosing a Bottle for Your Breastfed Baby
Whether you’re browsing online or through the aisles at a store, there are several things that you should look at before making your baby bottle selection. The most successful bottles for breastfed babies have some key features.
The Bottle Shape
Some babies will want a bottle that feels familiar to the breast. Because of this, a wide-neck bottle or a breast-like shaped bottle can be helpful with this transition since it is ergonomically similar to the breast.
The Nipple Type
If you look at the different bottle nipples, you will notice different sizes and shapes. The nipples that are most similar to mom’s nipples are what we encourage you to try first. This will increase the chances of baby not refusing the breast or the bottle when switching back and forth. We suggest trying a wide-neck nipple base since that most closely resembles a mother’s breast.
Good venting is important in a baby bottle because it reduces the amount of air a baby swallows. The less air that goes inside baby’s tummy, the better. When they swallow too much air, it can cause gas pains and increase colic.
Best Baby Bottles for Breastfed Babies
After testing and reviewing many baby bottles with many different babies, these are the best baby bottles for breastfed babies.
The Comotomo bottles have been a favorite of parents and babies for years. They were specifically designed for babies who switch from breast to bottle. There are several things about this bottle that make it a great choice for breastfed babies. It’s made of 100% soft silicone, making it soft and much more flexible like the breast. It also has a wide base and large silicone nipple, and the nipple has a slow flow. All of these features make it a good option for breastfed babies.
Parents’ thoughts: We love that there are minimal parts to the bottle and that you don’t need a bottle brush to clean it since the bottle is wide. It’s super easy and fast to clean! But because the bottle part is also silicone, the bottle easily tips over since it doesn’t have a firm base.
Dr. Brown’s Wide Neck Baby Bottle
So many parents and babies love Dr. Brown’s bottles. One of the main reasons is the superior venting system which eliminates air bubbles during feedings. Less air being ingested reduces gas, colic, and spit-up, making for happier babies and parents. The vent system also prevents vacuum pressure from building and the nipple from collapsing.
For breastfed babies, we recommend the wide-neck bottles to resemble more of the breast. Many parents keep their baby on the level 1 silicone nipple (that comes with the bottle) for a slow flow. Some parents opt for the preemie nipples for a slower flow, which can help replicate the flow of breastfeeding.
Parents’ thoughts: There are many parts to this bottle, but the venting system makes it worth it. Many babies experienced less gas and tummy pain from this bottle, so it’s a great option!
Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Baby Bottle
Tommee Tippee’s Closer to Nature’s baby bottles are inspired by what babies love most—mom. With a breast-like silicone nipple, this bottle flexes like a breast and feels more like mom. In addition, this bottle has a super-sensitive anti-colic valve that parents love. They also claim that 92% of 1,200 parents who used the Tommee Tippee nipple said that their baby accepted it within the first 3 attempts. Pretty impressive!
Parents’ thoughts: The silicone is soft but sturdy, and the curvy shape makes it easy to hold without slipping from the caregiver’s hand.
Nanobébé bottles were designed with breastmilk and breastfeeding babies in mind. Their unique one-of-a-kind concave design provides significant surface area exposure to the milk. This allows the milk to spread thin across the bottle and provides quick and even warming that doesn’t destroy precious breast milk nutrients. Similarly, the shape allows for rapid cooling of the breastmilk, reducing bacterial growth. It’s a pretty cool bottle. Breastfed babies also love it because of its short, wide, breast-like shape design and slow-flow silicone nipple.
Parents’ thoughts: We love that babies can hold onto the bottles faster, that it is easy to clean and store in the fridge, and that it protects the breastmilk during heating and cooling. The bottom of the bottles does not screw on and off. Instead, you press down firmly and evenly to close them and ensure that the breastmilk doesn’t leak out.
The Mimijumi bottle is designed with the largest mouth/nipple on the market. Their bottles are made with medical and food grade silicone and nylon, which gives the texture to feel like skin. It’s a great choice for transitioning back and forth between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Their bottle and nipple design ensure that baby actively suckles, and that baby controls the slow flow of milk.
Parents’ thoughts: This bottle is more expensive, so you are definitely paying for the quality of the one-piece nipple design with anti-colic venting. This bottle has fewer pieces, so it’s easy to clean and prepare.
The Munchkin Latch nipple was designed to be ultra-flexible, so it can stretch, flex, and pump just like the breast for an easy, correct, and continuous latch every time. In addition, its uniquely designed nipple (like an accordion, so it reaches to the back of your baby’s soft palate) flexes as baby’s head moves. This allows your baby to maintain a proper latch, decreases air ingestion and reduces feeding frustrations for your child.
Mom can also purchase a pumping adaptor so she can pump right into the bottle, saving on cleaning time.
Parents’ thoughts: We love how you can purchase a pumping adaptor and pump directly into the bottles. The one thing to always check is the anti-colic valve located at the bottom of the bottle. Make sure that it is always cleaned thoroughly before its next use.
Playtex Nurser Bottle with Drop-Ins Liners
A wonderful and affordable option, the Playtex Nurser with Drop-Ins bottles, do a great job mimicking the breast. The unique liners work similarly to breastfeeding because they contract during feeding, giving a more natural, air-free feeding for baby. In addition, the Playtex nipples are wide, soft, and have a raised texture to help with a better latch. There are also different sizes and styles of nipples available to help your little one latch easier.
Parents’ thoughts: Many parents swear by this bottle and say that it helps tremendously with gassy babies. The Playtex pre-sterilized liners are also easy to replace and guarantee a clean bottle every time, which is convenient for parents. But if you are concerned about the waste you’re creating by using liners, this might not be the best option for you. However, their liners are 100% recyclable.
NUK Simply Natural
Designed to mimic the fit, flow, and movement of mom as closely as possible, the NUK Simply Natural is the only bottle with up to nine nipple holes, just like mom. Their bottles feature a soft nipple that is similar to the shape of mom’s breast while breastfeeding. The scooped nipple cavity allows space for baby’s tongue and jaw to move naturally and control the flow, just like they do when breastfeeding. A great option that parents love!
Parents’ thoughts: This bottle is easy to clean, has minimal parts, is easy to hold, has a good slow flow, is affordable, and many breastfed babies love it. Two thumbs up!
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