The Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies
Breastfeeding offers a host of benefits, from boosting baby’s immune system to preventing food allergies in infants and helping you to bond with your newborn. But exclusively nursing is not a plausible option for everyone. Introducing a bottle—whether it’s filled with expressed breast milk or supplemental formula—opens up a world of possibilities. It gives you the freedom to return to work, include your partner in the feeding schedule or simply take some time out for yourself.
But before you can experience this game-changing transition, you’ll need to figure out which bottle works best for your little one. To make your search easier, we checked in with a lactation consultant for tips on how to introduce bottle feeds—plus, we’re sharing the best bottles for breastfed babies.
Introducing a breastfed baby to a bottle is a process of trial-and-error, and there’s no perfect time to get started. That said, Leigh Anne O’Connor IBCLC, LCCE, a certified lactation consultant in New York City, advises parents to get their breastfeeding routine well-established before trying to introduce another method of feeding. “I typically recommend introducing the bottle after a six-week growth spurt—somewhere between 8 to 10 weeks,” O’Connor says. Of course, you need to do what works for your schedule, so take that timeline with a grain of salt.
Every child is different; while some infants will take a bottle on the first try, others may be a little more resistant. Here find a few tips on how to make the transition a little easier.
Get comfortable. According to O’Connor it’s important that both you and baby are comfortable during feeding sessions. Set up a cozy station with a place to hold the bottle, and have a burp cloth handy. Ensure that you have sufficient lumbar support, and try to avoid leaning over, as this can cause neck and back strain. Talk to baby and make eye contact to help make feeding time a positive bonding experience.
Be patient. Baby may downright refuse to take a bottle at first, but practice makes perfect. Try to foster a calm environment for bottle feeds in the same way you would for nursing sessions.
Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute, when a bottle becomes a necessity, says O’Connor. If you have a set return-to-work date, try introducing a bottle well in advance, so that baby has time to get used to it.
Position baby correctly. “Baby should be in either a fully upright position or slightly reclined in the caregiver’s arms,” says O’Connor.
Paced feeding. As they nurse, breastfed babies tend to stop and start. Paced feeding with a bottle echoes this natural rhythm. Keep the bottle in a horizontal position to avoid the fast flow of milk, and to pause for breaks.
Take it slow. “Feeding babies should be like fine dining,” says O’Connor. Carve out ample time for bottle feeding, and don’t rush the process.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to baby bottles—from price and nipple type to anti-colic features. Before you buy a large multipack, it’s best to experiment with a variety of bottles to find one that works for your little one. Here, find a few examples of the best bottles for breastfed babies.
The best bottles for breastfed babies are tried and tested, so it’s no surprise that Comotomo has our seal of approval. These silicone bottles have won several Best of Baby awards through the years. The natural-shaped silicone nipple eases the transition from breast to bottle (and back again). Plus, a built-in venting system helps prevent colic, tummy troubles and annoying leaks. With only three parts and a wide opening, the bottles are easy to assemble, disassemble and clean.
- Silicone nipple mimics breast
- Dishwasher safe
- Bottle cap can be hard to unscrew
- It can be difficult to read the measurements on the bottle
Can’t decide between a glass or plastic baby bottle? Check out this hybrid option by Chicco. The exterior is wrapped in a durable layer of BPA-free plastic, while an inner layer of glass prevents chemicals from leaching into the bottle contents. The textured, silicone nipple helps position baby’s tongue and lips for an intuitive latch. And the milk comes out slowly to mimic the natural flow of breast milk. Anti-colic air vents stop baby from ingesting air to help prevent tummy aches.
- Slow-flow bottle
- Glass interior prevents chemical leaching
- Durable, thanks to outer-layer of plastic
- Some parents report that the anti-colic features aren’t effective
Lansinoh bottles for breastfed babies draw on 50 plus years of research, to give parents and infants the best possible feeding experience. Made from durable BPA-free plastic, these bottles feature an air-ventilation system to counteract gas and colic. They also happen to be dishwasher safe, and come with a convenient travel cap to reduce leaks on the go. But the real standout feature is the slow-flow nipple, made of soft, flexible silicone; it has a matte surface that enables baby to latch securely and prevents nipple confusion.
- Nipple designed specifically for breastfed babies
- Dishwasher safe
- Some parents report that the flow of milk is too fast, despite the slow-flow nipple
Next up on our list of the best bottles for breastfed babies is this pick by Medela. The Calma is specifically designed for breastfed babies and boasts an elongated shape that mimics the feel of a natural nipple. But the innovation doesn’t end there, the built-in valve system only releases liquid when baby sucks and creates a vacuum, to ensure a slow, steady flow of milk. Plus, an air-control system helps prevent gassiness, and the no-drip design minimizes spills.
- Valve-system allows baby to control the flow of milk or formula
- Compatible with all Medela breast milk bottles
- Top rack dishwasher safe
- Some parents report that the nipple cap leaks
Nanobébé bottles for breastfed babies are truly unique. The breast-shaped bottle mimics the natural curve of a mom’s body, helping to ease the transition between breast and bottle. A triple-vented nipple helps alleviate post-feeding fussiness, gassiness and discomfort. And the dome-shaped design allows liquid to spread out in a thin layer, meaning you can heat up milk or formula two times faster than with other bottles on the market. The best part? The included breast pump adapter allows you to express milk directly into the bottle for quick and easy feeds. Bonus: Get 15 percent off sitewide on Nanobébé with code BUMP15.
- Breast-shaped design
- Triple-vented nipple to reduce colic
- Stackable bottles
- Some parents report that it’s difficult to get all the milk out
Searching for the best glass bottles for breastfed babies? The Natural Response bottles by Philips Avent are hard to beat. Made from pharmaceutical-grade glass, the bottles are heat- and shatter-resistant for added peace of mind. Anti-colic valve technology vents air away from baby’s tummy to prevent colic or discomfort. And a flexible, silicone nipple mimics the shape and feel of a breast, helping baby to latch on and feed comfortably. Better yet, the bottle works with your child’s natural feeding rhythm—liquid is only released when baby actively drinks, so when your little one needs a breather, the milk stops flowing.
- Soft, silicone nipple
- Heat- and thermal shock- resistant
- Dishwasher safe
- Some parents report that the bottle leaks
Pave the way to a successful feeding session with Munchkin’s LATCH Bottle. It’s designed with an accordion-style nipple that stretches like a breast, so baby can latch on securely. The stage-one slow-flow nipple, designed for young infants, matches the natural pace of milk flow from breast to baby. Plus, an anti-colic valve at the base prevents the flow of air bubbles that can cause tummy troubles.
- Stretchy, silicone nipple
- Top rack dishwasher safe
- If the nipple is not inserted correctly, it may collapse or invert
Simple is often best when it comes to bottles for breastfed babies, but extra safety features are always an added bonus. Introducing NUK Simply Natural Bottles designed with SafeTemp technology. The blue thermometer indicator fades when the bottle is too hot and reappears when milk has cooled and is safe to drink. There are a few sizes available, but the 5-ounce bottle is best for the introductory phase, as it comes with a slow-flow nipple that has three holes.
- Thermometer feature indicates when milk is too hot
- Anti-colic air vent helps reduce colic and tummy discomfort
- Some parents report that the measurement markers are inaccurate
Last up on our list of the best bottles for breastfed babies is this pretty pick by Olababy. Made from 100 percent silicone, the soft 4-ounce bottle is lightweight and easy to grip. An offset nipple mimics a natural breast, and allows for easy latching. Available in a range of muted, pastel shades to stimulate baby’s visual development.
- Slow-flow design
- Off-center nipple prevents bottle rejection
- Dishwasher safe
- More expensive option
About the expert:
Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE, is a New York-based board-certified lactation consultant with more than 20 years of experience. She is a former president of the New York Lactation Consultant Association.