The term colic is a bit misleading. It actually refers to a specific condition that may or may not have anything to do with feeding time. However, it's widely used by parents, doctors and, of course, baby bottle manufacturers, as a catch-all phrase for babies who are gassy, fussy after eating, and suffer from reflux, which is when they spit up smelly, partially digested milk. Most bottles, even the most basic, usually have specialized systems, either in the nipple or in the bottle itself, for reducing swallowed air, which can help ease these symptoms.
Dr. Brown's Natural Flow baby bottles (*Est. $15 for three 8 oz. bottles) are popular with many reviewers for reducing air intake. It is a plastic bottle and comes in standard and wide neck models. Dr. Brown's bottles went entirely BPA-free in 2008, and now contain no BPA, PVC or other harmful plastics. Be sure you order only bottles manufactured after 2008.
Dr. Brown's system is made up of a silicone cap that attaches to a long tube that extends to the bottom of the bottle. When assembled, the tube and silicone cap remove air from the bottle, and the child ingests only liquid. There are many different types of gas-reduction systems, but many reviewers consider the Dr. Brown's Natural Flow to be the gold standard.
There are downsides to the bottles, most notably the number of parts required to assemble each bottle. This takes time and effort and is not always easy to do with just one hand, as would often be the case with a mother holding an infant. Because of the multiple parts, many mothers also complain that the bottles are difficult and time consuming to clean, even when using the cleaning tools provided with the bottles. The company realizes this and sells a dishwasher tray that holds three bottle assemblies (minus the bottles themselves) in one place. Parents say that makes it quick and easy to put the bottles in the dishwasher and assemble the parts later.
The wide-neck version of Dr. Brown's bottle also receives positive reviews from users. They say the wider base makes it easier for some children to latch on to the nipple, and the wider opening in the bottle makes cleaning the bottle itself easier. The wide-neck bottle is slightly more expensive.
The main selling point, though, is the anti-colic system. It really does work, according to most parent reviewers. A few even say their children born with rare feeding issues can only be fed with Dr. Brown's bottles. Two expert review sites selected Dr. Brown's as the best bottle for preemies with the optional Preemie Flow nipple (*Est. $4 for a pack of two). Premature infants are more prone to feeding issues caused by air intake.
Another popular bottle in this category is the Mam Anti-Colic ( *Est. $13 for three 8 oz. bottles). These bottles were previously named the Mam UtiliVent and are popular for their anti-colic system.
There are six parts to the Mam bottle. Some say this makes it more difficult to disassemble and assemble; some say it's not hard at all and that the pieces do not get lost easily. Very few parents complain about leaks. Those who do have difficulty assembling the bottle properly, which may be a function of its six parts. In fact, a number of parents say this is a great "on-the-go" bottle because it seals up so nicely with no leaks.
The biggest selling feature of the Mam Anti-Colic bottle is its unusual method of sterilization: You fill the cap with water, place the nipple in its ring in the cap, place the bottle on the nipple, put a cap on the whole assembly and heat it in the microwave. Reviewers say it's very easy to do and adds a level of convenience to the sterilization process. The pieces are also all dishwasher safe in the top rack.
One of the best choices for air reduction may just be the Playtex Drop-Ins Premium Nurser (*Est. $12 for three 8 oz. bottles). It gets raves from parents for their air-reducing properties. They are both fully reviewed in our Best Plastic Bottles, Liner Bottles section.
Our pick for the best bottle for colicky babies is Dr. Brown's Natural Flow (*Est. $15 for three 8 oz. bottles). These bottles earn high praise for their effectiveness, which, in this category, is ultimately the most important thing. Although there are a lot of components that make up the bottle, it doesn't matter to some reviewers because it works so well. Also, the dishwasher attachment, although optional, is convenient for mothers who don't want to hand wash the bottles.