Styles and colors of bottles abound, but your mission should be to find bottles that don't leak or cause excessive spit-up, burping, or gas. The bottles should also be easy for your baby to hold and for you to clean and be made without bisphenol A. You'll use a bottle the most in your baby's first year. After that, you may decide to transition to a sippy cup. In fact, that's an ideal time to wean your baby from the bottle, or at least start attempting to do so. At that point, cow's milk will likely be a diet staple, possibly in combination with breast milk.
The buzz on BPA
Concerns about the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in baby bottles made of polycarbonate (a hard, translucent plastic that can be clear or colored), have prompted several some manufacturers to switch to other types of plastics and certain retailers like Toys "R" Us, Walmart, and others to stop selling BPA baby bottles. Consumers Union, which has been studying this issue for years, believes that BPA should not be used in any food contact materials. When it's heated, washed in the dishwasher, or exposed to acids such as those found in juice, polycarbonate tends to break down and leach BPA into food and drinks, according to Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a BPA researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Polycarbonate containers can get worse with age; older polycarbonate items tend to leach more than newer ones, vom Saal said. Based on the latest research, the National Institutes of Health concluded that there was some concern about the effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and reproductive system of fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures.
The FDA has announced that it is moving ahead with additional research exploring the potential low-dose effects of BPA that have been noted in several animal studies. For now, polycarbonate baby bottles are still on the market in this country, although some retailers, states and countries have banned them or are in the process of banning them.
If you're concerned about BPA, use bottles that are not marked as No. 7 plastic, a group that includes polycarbonate, the material made with BPA. Many stores and websites now sell plastic baby bottles labeled "without BPA," or "Bisphenol-A Free." They're made of alternative plastics such as polypropylene, polyethylene, polyethersulfone, or Tritan, a polyester-based material. Bottles not made from polycarbonate may be a little more expensive, but it depends on the brand. Glass, including bottles sold with protective silicone sleeves, is also an option. Silicone sleeves for glass bottles are also sold separately. But glass is still breakable, presenting a safety hazard for adults, children, and pets. And it's heavier for you and your baby to hold than plastic, which gives plastic bottles made without BPA the edge in terms of ease of use.
Bottles put to the test
When Consumer Reports used an outside lab that specializes in plastic analysis to test for BPA in several brands of plastic baby bottles that were labeled "without BPA" or "Bisphenol-A Free" several years ago, we found that the BPA levels were negligible. The five bottles we tested are a better choice than polycarbonate. If you don't want to use glass but still want to limit your baby's exposure to BPA, consider BornFree, 9-fluid-ounce or 5-fluid-ounce twin packs; Evenflo Classic without BPA CustomFlow, 8-ounce, tinted; Medela Breast Milk Feeding and Storage Set, 5-ounce; Nuby Non-Drip, multicolored, by Luv n' Care, 10-ounce or 7-ounce, and MAM BPA-free Anti-Colic Bottle, by Sassy, 9-ounce.
There are pluses and minuses with every nipple and baby bottle. Be prepared to try out bottles and nipples to find a combo your baby likes and that is easy for you to use. To save money while you're experimenting, start with a lower-priced bottle made without BPA, such as Evenflo, and see if your baby likes it. If so, you've got a winner. Some babies accept any bottle. If feeding doesn't go smoothly, try another type of bottle made without BPA.
Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.