The baby bottle market is bigger than ever. For parents, that means more choices than ever before. It also means you’ll need to do some research. Which baby bottles are best among all the plastic, glass, silicone, and metal choices that are currently on the market?
Plastic bottles, even those free of BPA, have been shown to contain harmful chemicals that affect the reproductive and endocrine systems of children. You may find you prefer to use glass, silicone, or metal bottles instead, but each has its own benefits and challenges. Comparing the pros and cons will help you choose which is best for your family.
Read on to understand the pros and cons of each type of baby bottle. There isn’t one type that’s best for every family. But, being armed with information about each type, can help you make the choice that’s best for your family.
Table of Contents
Which material is the best for baby bottles?
Are you concerned with safety, the environment, or just which option is easiest to clean?
No matter what your reasons are for looking into which material is best for baby bottles, there seems to be a good choice for everyone:
- Plastic – These bottles are easily available, lightweight, and are the most inexpensive baby bottle option available. Unfortunately, they need to be replaced regularly because they break down over time, which can lead to harmful chemicals leaching into the milk or formula and bacterial build-up.
- Silicone – Silicone baby bottles are growing in popularity as they are soft (and often designed to closely mimic the shape and feel of mom’s breast), lightweight, and non-toxic. They can, however, absorb odors and stains and need to be cleaned periodically.
- Metal – Much like your favorite metal water bottle, baby bottles are now available in crack- and corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Like other longer-lasting bottle materials, these are on the more expensive side and can be difficult for your little one to hold on to.
- Glass – Glass bottles are made of shatterproof glass so they won’t break the same way your regular drinking glass will. Because these bottles are made of glass, they are easy to clean and don’t leach harmful chemicals into your baby’s milk or formula. However, they are much more expensive up-front than a regular baby bottle and are heavy, making them more difficult for your baby to hold on their own.
Keep reading for a complete list of the pros and cons of each type of bottle, as well as some great recommendations for whichever one you choose.
Plastic baby bottles
Since the 1960’s plastics have been made with a chemical known as Bisphenol A (BPA). Plastic baby bottles started replacing glass bottles because they were more lightweight and durable than glass. But, in 2012 the United States banned the use of BPA in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups because BPA is associated with long-term health risks.
Many parents use plastic baby bottles because they are readily available and are the most inexpensive option. They can also take a beating in a diaper bag, or from an angry toddler.
Here are some of the pros and cons of plastic baby bottles if you decide to use them.
- Available and economical – Plastic bottles can be found at nearly every retailer that carries baby items. They are also the most inexpensive option, so they are easier to purchase and replace as needed.
- Lightweight and resilient – Plastic bottles are easy for babies to grip and hold. And, they are largely unbreakable even though they don’t last as long as glass bottles.
- Easy to measure – Since plastic bottles are transparent, it’s easy to measure your milk and see how much your baby drinks.
- Harmful chemicals – Even BPA-free plastics contain chemicals that are considered harmful. Leaching of chemicals can happen over time or when exposed to high heat.
- Difficult to clean – Many plastic bottles have narrow necks that are hard to clean. Using a bottle brush over time causes scratching that can lead to bacterial build-up.
- Absorbs odors – Plastic bottles absorb odors, so they need to be deodorized occasionally.
- Shorter life – Plastic bottles don’t last as long as glass, silicone, or metal baby bottles. Over time, heating and temperature variations will cause the bottles to deteriorate.
Philips AVENT Natural
The Philips AVENT Natural baby bottle has been well-loved by parents for years.
It has a wide neck for easier cleaning and is made without BPA and other harmful chemicals. These bottles are made to grow with your baby with a range of flow rates available for their naturally shaped nipples.
Dr. Brown’s Options+
Dr. Brown’s Options + plastic bottles are the #1 recommended choice of pediatricians.
They have a patented vent system that helps prevent colic, spit-up, burping, and gas. As your baby grows, you can remove the vent rather than introduce a different bottle.
Silicone baby bottles
Silicone feels closer to breast tissue than glass, plastic, or metal bottles. Some parents believe this helps babies adjust between breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
Silicone baby bottles are a great alternative to plastic bottles. Made with food-grade silicone, they are soft, lightweight, and non-toxic.
- Toxin-free – Food-grade silicone has been approved as safe by the FDA, and will not release chemicals or compounds when heated below 300°F.
- Freezer and dishwasher friendly – Silicone bottles can be used to store breastmilk in the freezer, and are top-shelf dishwasher safe.
- Retain odors and stains – Over time silicone bottles can absorb odors and stains. Manufacturers recommend boiling them in water with a little baking soda for 5 minutes to remove odors when needed.
- Not easily recyclable – In most areas, silicone is not eligible for recycling in residential curbside programs. Usually, silicone needs to be sent to a specialized recycler at the end of its life.
Nanobebe silicone bottles are soft with a wide, stable base and easy-to-read volume scale.
The non-collapsing nipple is triple vented and designed for easy latching with no post-feeding gassiness or discomfort.
Nanobebe also has an award-winning breastfeeding bottle.
Comotomo silicone baby bottles are designed to help babies transition between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.
They have two anti-colic vents in the nipple to help babies get less air in the tummy. They are soft, naturally shaped, and easy for babies to grip and hold.
Metal baby bottles
Many people already use stainless steel for water bottles and travel cups. But, have you considered using a metal bottle for your baby?
Stainless steel baby bottles are non-toxic, don’t leach chemicals, and are extremely durable. They are also a great choice for traveling because they can hold the temperature of the contents for longer periods of time.
If the bottles are unpainted, they can also be boiled and put in the dishwasher.
- Safety – Metal bottles are corrosion resistant and won’t crack, chip, or break when dropped. They also resist scratching, which can lead to bacterial build-up.
- Recyclable – Metal bottles are made of food-grade stainless steel, which is fully recyclable if you are concerned about being eco-friendly.
- Price – Metal bottles are priced similarly to glass and silicone, which may be cost-prohibitive.
- Heavy – Metal bottles can be heavier than plastic and silicone. Using a silicone sleeve may help your baby grip the bottle better.
- Can’t see inside – Since metal bottles aren’t transparent, you can’t see how much your baby is consuming or when the bottle is nearly empty.
Pura Kiki stainless steel bottles feature silicone nipples and stainless steel collars that eliminate plastic waste and chemical concerns.
They are made of food-grade #304 (18/8) steel and are dishwasher-safe. The lids, sleeves, and accessories can be mixed and matched to extend their use.
Thinkbaby stainless steel bottles are leakproof, lightweight, and dishwasher safe.
They feature side measurements that are easy to read.
Thinkbaby also comes with a travel top and cross-cut nipple design that reduces leaks and spills.
Glass baby bottles
Even before the FDA required manufacturers to exclude BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, parents were turning away from plastic bottles to find other alternatives.
Most glass bottles are made from thermal shock-resistant borosilicate glass. They stand up better to drops (although a silicone sleeve is still a good idea), and tolerate quick temperature changes. This allows you to move bottles out of the refrigerator and into a bottle warmer without fear of shattering the glass.
Glass baby bottles are more environmentally friendly than either plastic or silicone because they are reusable, and are easily recycled.
- Safety – Glass bottles don’t contain harmful chemicals so there is no worry of leaching. They can also be sterilized safely at higher temperatures than plastic bottles.
- Easier to clean – Glass bottles won’t retain stains or odors so they are less likely to develop scratches that can cause bacterial growth.
- Breast pump compatible – Most glass bottles are compatible with popular brands of breast pumps.
- Expensive – Glass bottles are more expensive. But because they are resilient and easy to sterilize, you can use them with multiple children.
- Heavy – Glass bottles are definitely heavier than plastic, which makes it more difficult for babies to hold and feed themselves.
Philips AVENT Natural
Philips AVENT Natural baby bottles are favorites of parents and lactation consultants alike.
The wide, naturally shaped nipple has petal inserts inside for added softness and flexibility without collapsing. With only a few parts, these bottles are easy to clean, fill and assemble.
Lifefactory glass baby bottles adapt to your growing baby with a variety of nipple sizes and sippy caps available.
For added convenience, they can be put into the dishwasher while still in their silicone sleeve.
Which bottles are best for newborns?
With all the available options, it’s hard to know which bottles to choose for your newborn.
A few things to consider when buying bottles for your newborn are:
- Angled tops and specialized nipples can help with latching and prevent gas, burping, and discomfort.
- Are you planning to pump? You can buy bottles that are the same brand as your breast pump, or find adapters that fit the specific brand of pump you use.
- Ask your pediatrician, they may also have some suggestions for you.
Do I need different bottles for my baby?
Bottles and nipples come in various sizes to accommodate the changing needs of your infant.
Here are a few things to consider before investing in different-sized bottles:
- Newborns only eat about 2oz per feeding, but they don’t do that for very long.
- If your baby has colic, you may need to invest in specialized bottles and/or nipples for that stage.
- Buying the larger-sized bottles at the start can save you money in the long run since babies quickly ramp up their feeding intake.
- Because glass, silicone, or metal bottles can be costly, buying multiple sizes can be expensive.