As a parent, you do all you can to keep your kids happy and healthy. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with the best options though. If you don’t feel comfortable using plastic baby bottles, what’s a safe, dependable alternative?
Plastic was once considered the safest option for baby bottles, but now we need to avoid BPA. While BPA-free plastic bottles are available, they are also prone to breaking down under regular use and should be replaced every 3-6 months. Glass, silicone, and metal bottles are available, although they come with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Read on to find out specifics of plastic baby bottles as well as some recommendations for popular alternatives, so you can decide which one is right for your family.
Is it bad to use plastic baby bottles?
In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of the chemical BPA (bisphenol-A) in baby bottles and sippy cups. This left parents needing to find alternatives to the plastic baby bottles they’d been using for years.
Unfortunately, newer studies that indicate that non-BPA plastics may be even more harmful. Non-BPA plastics seem to be more of a marketing gimmick than a safe alternative. Is it safe to use plastic baby bottles at all, or should they be avoided altogether?
The health risks of even BPA-free plastic bottles are well documented. While plastic is so prevalent, it’s impossible to avoid them altogether, but it is wise to minimize exposure as much as possible in order to reduce the chance of health issues in the long term.
As a parent, you’ve read all the warnings about the harmful effects of BPA in many plastics. So, you’ve probably trained yourself to try to use less plastic. Or, make sure that what you had to buy was “BPA-free.”
In 2011 a study in the Journal of Environment Health Perspectives states that out of 500 different plastic products tested (including those currently used in plastic baby bottles), almost all leached estrogen-like chemicals into food that disrupt hormone activity.
As of August 2018, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the use of alternatives to plastic baby bottles. Harmful chemicals may leach from any type of plastic even those that don’t contain BPA. A baby bottle may contain more than 100 types of plastic due to its multiple parts. These bottles can shed millions of microscopic particles that babies ingest.
If you decide to use plastic bottles, follow recommended precautions to reduce the amount of leaching into food or drinks. Avoid those with recycling codes of 3, 6, and 7 because they contain harmful chemicals.
Use only warm water and mild detergents to wash them. Never put plastic in the dishwasher or the microwave, and discard any bottles that are scratched, worn or cloudy. Worn bottles may leach more chemicals.
With all this evidence, you may still be wondering, do you need to replace your plastic baby bottles? Continue reading for more information and the alternatives to consider.
Do you need to replace plastic baby bottles?
Now that you have the information on the health risks, are any of the alternatives better? Should you replace plastic baby bottles if you’re having a second child?
If it’s in your budget, you should replace plastic baby bottles. Plastic breaks down over time and sheds more microplastic pieces with every use. Most experts recommend replacing your plastic baby bottles every 3 to 6 months even if they’re BPA-free.
If you’re considering a switch, you have some very good options that have been time-tested by other parents. Some are more popular than others, and some carry their own risks.
The best plastic baby bottle alternatives
One of the reasons plastic bottles continue to be so popular is that they’re less expensive than the alternatives. However, if you plan on replacing them every three to six months as recommended, that cost will add up, while the alternatives are unlikely to need to be replaced as frequently.
The best plastic-free baby bottle options are:
The best baby bottles in terms of safety are glass, followed by metal or stainless steel. They are followed by silicone, which is the lightest and softest option. Keep reading for the pros and cons of each alternative.
Silicone baby bottles
Silicone baby bottles have been on the market for over a decade.
Silicone, while not 100% natural, is non-toxic and safe for baby bottles. Silicone is made mostly from silica (sand). They are freezer and dishwasher safe and contain no BPAs, polycarbonates, or phthalates.
Even though the AAP recommends glass and stainless steel over silicone, this material has been increasing in popularity since 2016. They are a very good, lightweight alternative to plastic.
Pricing and availability
Silicone bottles are widely available and are the cheapest alternative to plastic baby bottles.
However, they are still relatively expensive compared to traditional plastic bottles.
Silicone bottles are unique because many of them are made in shapes that mimic the natural breast. Their soft, pliable exterior feels more like a mother’s breast than any other option.
They are the lightest weight option of the three, so they are easier for younger babies to learn to feed themselves.
- Soft and squishy so they’re easy to hold
- Shatterproof and free of chemicals found in plastics like BPA, BPS, BPAF
- Dishwasher safe and tend to contain fewer parts than plastic bottles
- Easy to clean
- Lightweight and durable
- Lots of options for sizes, colors, etc.
- Easy for traveling; non-breakable
- Antimicrobial so no bottle brush is needed
- Very popular
- Least expensive option
- Still some concern over leaching at high temperatures
- Not microwavable
- Can discolor and absorb odors over time
- Sticky exterior over time and can pick up crumbs from your car or diaper bag
- Tight fit in standard diaper bag pockets
- Silicone does become less stable over 300°F
- Hard to read measurements
- Not biodegradable
If you’re interested in a silicone baby bottle, the Nanobébé Flexy Silicone Baby Bottle is a popular choice.
These bottles are designed with both mom and baby in mind. The flexible, breast-like shape is meant to be comforting and easy to hold and includes an anti-colic design to help reduce bellyaches. It’s also got a minimal design, making it easy to clean, and the silicone construction makes it unbreakable.
As a bonus, this bottle can be used for formula, milk, and even water, taking your little one from infancy into toddlerhood when you snap on matching handles (sold separately).
Olababy Gentle Bottle
The Olababy Gentle Bottle is a colorful silicone bottle that’s ideal for newborns up to 2 years.
The exterior has a smooth texture, making it easy for your little one to hold, and it has two non-leaking dual air events designed to prevent colic. This bottle also has a wide neck, making it easy to clean.
There are also accessories available for this bottle, including a slip-on teething that doubles as a handle.
Metal baby bottles
Metal or stainless steel baby bottles have been around since 2009.
They are made of kitchen-grade steel, which means they resist corrosion and oxidation.
Overall, they are very safe, although they may be too heavy for your baby to hold on his own.
Pricing and availability
Stainless steel has become very popular for water bottles and travel coffee mugs for parents. And now, it’s also a popular alternative for baby bottles.
Stainless baby bottles are available almost everywhere in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes. While they are one of the most expensive choices, they are also the most durable.
Metal baby bottles can keep liquids warm or cold for hours and are great for traveling.
They do tend to be heavier than plastic or silicone, but less heavy than glass. This may make it more difficult for younger children to feed themselves.
- Keeps cold things cold/warm longer
- Dishwasher safe in most cases
- More durable than glass or plastic
- BPA, PVC, and Phthalate free
- 100% recyclable
- Can leach metals like nickel or chromium – use only for non-acidic beverages
- Heavy to hold, babies may not be able to feed themselves
- Sometimes imparts a steel or metallic taste
- Can hold odors and tastes from previous contents if not thoroughly scrubbed
- Can’t be put in the microwave
- Not recommended for the freezer
Pura Kiki Stainless Steel Infant Bottle
Pura Kiki are the baby bottle answer to the popular S’well water bottles.
In addition to being vacuum-insulated, these come with a colorful silicone sleeve so your baby’s drink is kept at the correct temperature while being comfortable to hold. Even better, the top is compatible with a variety of wide-neck nipples, including the ones from Dr. Brown’s.
Once you’re done using this as a baby bottle, you can change the nipple out for another Pura silicone lid and use it as a sippy bottle, straw bottle, or a regular water bottle.
Pacific Baby 3-in-1 Insulated Bottle
If you’re looking for a less expensive option, you may want to consider the Pacific Baby 3-in-1 Insulated Bottle (although, admittedly, it’s still relatively pricey).
This is option is more colorful and decorated than many types of bottles, and the insulation means that your baby’s formula or milk will maintain its temperature for up to 10 hours.
Like other high-quality bottle styles, you can update the tops to work for a baby, a toddler, or even a small child. As a special bonus, this one also includes a stainless steel lid to keep the nipple clean when not in use.
Glass baby bottles
Almost counterintuitively, glass bottles are the safest alternative to plastic baby bottles as it’s the only alternative that doesn’t leach any chemicals into its contents.
Glass bottles have started making a comeback since the health information about plastic bottles emerged. Glass bottles are still popular with many moms, and there are a large variety of brands to choose from.
Pricing and availability
Glass baby bottles are readily available, although you probably won’t be able to pick one up at the grocery store.
They are the most expensive option, but they are extremely durable and are unlikely to need to be replaced unless they are damaged.
Glass baby bottles are made from tempered glass so they are super durable.
Tempered glass is processed in a way that makes it much stronger than regular glass. Glass baby bottles are also thermal shock resistant, which means they can go from the freezer to the microwave without shattering.
Most glass bottles are also covered in a silicone webbing, making them easy and comfortable to hold.
- Don’t absorb odors or colors like plastic and silicone
- No chemical leaching
- Dishwasher safe
- Can be used for breast milk storage
- Fewer parts than other bottles so they’re easier to clean
- Heavy so they’re more difficult to use for mom and baby
- Younger children may not be able to feed themselves
- More expensive but last longer
- Always the possibility of breakage and serious injury
Lifefactory Baby Bottle
If you use a glass water bottle, you’re probably already aware of the Lifefactory brand, but did you know they also make baby bottles?
These bottles come in both 4- and 9-ounce sizes, but are similar overall. They both come with silicone nipples (0-3 month size for the 4oz and 3-6 month size for the 9oz) and a polypropylene cap to keep the nipple clean when not in use. You can also choose from a variety of colorful options for the silicone sleeve.
Once your baby outgrows the bottle, you can change out the top for a sippy cap or flat cap.
Phillips AVENT Natural Glass Bottle
For a more affordable glass bottle option, the Philips AVENT Natural Glass Bottle is a popular choice.
With its wide neck, anti-colic nipple system, and overall design, this bottle is the alternative that most closely mimics the design of popular plastic bottles. Although this option doesn’t include any insulation for the holder’s comfort, it is thermal shock resistant and easy to clean.
If you like the 4oz glass bottle, you can upgrade to then 8oz size later on.