Stuff: Bottles

You’ll need a few bottles if you’re regularly feeding your child formula or expressed milk; otherwise you may never need one at all.

What is it?

A bottle that can be sterilised, with a teat at the end through which to feed your baby milk, if you’re not feeding them directly from a breast. Most are made from plastic, and tend to be BPA-free (it’s the law in the US) but you can also get glass bottles, if you’re still worried about plastics.

Do I need one?

As ever, it depends. If you’re going to be using formula or expressed milk a lot of the time, then you’ll probably need at least two – one washing, one using. To avoid frantic washing, you’ll probably need more than that.

Some families find that the non breastfeeding parent(s) regularly bottle feeding helps them to bond, so again you’ll need at least a couple if you want to go down that road.

If you’re planning to be around to directly breastfeed your baby, though, I’d advise just getting one. It’s handy to use in an emergency, and if you then find you need more you can get hold of them pretty easily. (Remember that many babies used to breastfeeding reject a bottle until they get really hungry.)

What about multiple babies?

You should really have a bottle per child, and while it’s fine to vary once they’re sterilised, the ideal is to not have them sharing the same unsterilised teat. However, anecdotal evidence from parents of multiples suggest that this can be quite hard, and they’re likely to be sharing fluids and microbes through their close interaction anyway, so don’t get too stressed about that. You will obviously need more bottles in total for more children, though.

How do I get one?

Most kinds of shops sell the standard plastic ones, which are also freely available online. You can also get them second hand from the usual places; just make sure you sterilise them well and bear in mind older ones are more likely to contain BPA. Remember if you’re buying a breast pump, that will come with a bottle anyway, and they’re often the perfect size (I found a small squat bottle to be more effective than a long tall one).

Glass bottles are trickier to get hold of, but you can find them online with a bit of digging.

Is there a hack?

Not really. Certainly nothing that would be less effort than getting one from Freegle. And remember the secret of lazy parenting is not to spend extra effort when you don’t have to. There are enough times that you do.

How much are they?

In the UK, a quick look on eBay shows you can buy a six pack of really fancy new bottles for £30, or a set of ten used bottles for a tenner.  (Remember you’ll get a bottle included with most breast pumps.)

What makes some more expensive?

The type of teat is the big varying factor – some claim to be more shaped like nipples, and while I’ve frankly never seen a bottle teat that looks remotely like a nipple, the ‘nipple-esque’ ones are likely to be a bit easier for your baby to suckle from.

What are the safety considerations?

When your baby’s young you do need to make sure their bottles are properly sterilised, as traces of milk are ripe breeding grounds for bacteria. Exactly how long you should do this seems to be a point of disagreement; UK authorities say for the first year of babies’ lives, whereas in France, with a similar environment, it’s 4 months. Some people also claim that formula is more likely to breed bacteria that breast milk. Personally, I stopped sterilising once my baby was starting to eat dirt off the floor (although I did of course wash equipment thoroughly).

You shouldn’t use a bottle with a test once they’re starting weaning to feed them water – a free flowing sippy cup has been shown to be better as it helps them learn to sip, rather than suck – non-spill valves can lead to an array of problems including tooth decay, ear infections and speech delay. And certainly don’t give them sugary juice through a treated bottle; it can rot their teeth.

Accessories

You’ll need some kind of sterilising equipment to begin with, a breast pump if expressing, and of course milk to put in the bottle!

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