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From basic plastic to fancy stainless steel, there's a bottle for every baby

Whether you breastfeed, formula feed or both, your baby will likely need to drink from a bottle at some point. Your choices include basic plastic bottles with a range of features, bottles billed as breastfeeding-friendly, and eco-friendly glass or stainless-steel bottles. Once you decide on one of these categories, it's ultimately a matter of finding out what your baby prefers.

Basic bottles have fewer frills, but they get the job done. Many babies will be happy with a basic plastic bottle. They have some convenience features, but aren't necessarily targeted to a specific feeding need. They also tend to be less expensive than bottles billed as breastfeeding-friendly, anti-colic or eco-friendly, for example. Most will have a basic venting system to help reduce babies' air intake, but they might not be as durable or may have somewhat rudimentary nipples. Very basic bottles can cost as little as $1 to $2 each. Those with a few more features, including more sophisticated venting systems and nipples, may cost about $4 to $5 each.

Breastfeeding-friendly bottles help ease a baby's transition between bottle and breast. These bottles are often made to work easily with a breast pump, and the nipple is usually longer and softer to promote an easier latch. The nipple may also promote a variable flow similar to that of breast milk, and even the shape of the bottle may remind babies of the breast. These bottles can be used as full-time feeding systems, for occasional feeding to supplement the breast, or during the transition period between the breast and the bottle. Expense is the primary downside here, with some designs costing $7 to $14 per bottle.

Glass bottles offer a greener option than plastic. Although all bottles sold in the U.S. are now BPA-free, some parents worry that there are yet-undiscovered dangers lurking in plastic. They often turn to glass bottles, which were available long before plastics. Glass bottles generally require less energy to manufacture and are more readily recyclable than their plastic counterparts. They're also easy to sanitize in boiling water and don't absorb odors. Of course, glass bottles can break and are heavier than plastic bottles. They can also be more expensive. While very basic glass bottles are available for $2 to $3 each, most cost $5 to $8. The most expensive glass bottles top out at about $14.

Stainless-steel bottles are eco-friendly and durable. Stainless-steel bottles have long been popular for adults, and now they're available for babies. They offer the "green" benefits of glass with the added advantage of extreme durability: They won't shatter or break. Many can also become sippy cups, snack containers or regular water bottles after a baby's bottle-feeding days are over. The main drawback is price. At about $14 to $18, they're among the most expensive bottles you can buy.

ConsumerSearch has analyzed expert and customer reviews to evaluate ease of use, durability and lifestyle factors for popular baby bottles. The result is our picks for the best baby bottles on the market. One is sure to make your baby's feeding time happy and filling.

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