The best baby bottle has:

  • Durability. Look for a bottle that can stand up to repeated falls, trips through the dishwasher and temperature extremes.
  • An easy-to-clean design. You'll appreciate a minimum of small parts and hard-to-reach crevices, and make sure the bottle is dishwasher-safe for when you're pressed for time.
  • BPA-free parts. As the editors at note, the industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) was banned from bottles in July 2012. Yet it's still worth checking the label, especially if you buy older merchandise from discount stores or clearance centers.
  • Several available nipple speeds. Baby bottle nipples come in various stages to accommodate changes in feeding abilities and styles as babies grow. Generally, slower nipples are for smaller babies while faster nipples are for older, hungrier, more efficient babies.
  • A venting system to cut down on excess air consumption. A baby who sucks down too much air while feeding is more susceptible to gas, reflux and the fussing that accompanies both. While some companies claim their bottles help ease colic or uncontrollable crying, the true cause of colic remains unclear, according to

Know before you go

  • What does your baby like? It's impossible to tell which bottle and nipple will work for your baby before you try it. Experts advise starting with one or two starter kits rather than stocking up on a particular brand. If your baby rejects a specific bottle or seems to be gassier or crankier than usual, trying another brand or style could make all the difference.
  • Will you be feeding on the go? Look for a bottle with a leak-free reputation and sturdy travel cap that securely fits over the nipple. You may also want to consider bottles with disposable liners that require less cleanup.
  • What is that nipple made of? Latex and silicone nipples are both considered safe, but many experts recommend silicone. Latex exposure can increase the risk of latex sensitivity or allergy for both mom and baby. Some reviewers say latex is more susceptible to bacterial growth. It can also be bitten through more easily, posing a choking hazard. That said, some babies have a strong preference for either silicone or latex and will refuse the other.
  • Will you be using a breast pump? Look for a bottle you can connect to your pump, either directly or with an adapter. Otherwise, you'll be cleaning double the bottles: those you pump into and those you use to feed pumped milk to your baby.

Value expectations: The dollars and cents of it

You'll almost always pay less per bottle when you buy in packs instead of individually; just be sure your baby likes the bottle! Three- to five-pack sets are most common.

Once you find the perfect bottle, what else do you need? Bottle manufacturers would love to sell you a range of accessories, including brushes, drying racks, warmers and sanitizers. However, the latter two are the most expensive and probably the most unnecessary, experts say. According to WebMD, sterilizing bottles is overkill because a thorough wash banishes germs just fine. And baby product experts, including editors at Babble, have long derided bottle warmers as unnecessary. Most babies are content with room-temperature breast milk or formula. If not, putting the bottle in a bowl of warm water or under the tap will do the trick.

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