From the very start, I always had a long-term plan to use bottles for Eli because I knew that I would eventually go back to work, yet when he was born we didn’t own a single bottle. And then when breastfeeding didn’t work out at all for us, we entered the world of bottle-feeding completely blind, unprepared and very overwhelmed. We went out and bought several different varieties of bottles and spent weeks figuring out what worked best for Eli and for us, which, naturally, wasn’t always the same bottle. Over the course of Eli’s 11 months, we’ve used 5 different types of bottles for various reasons. To say that we’re experienced in bottles would be an understatement.
When I was asked to test out some new bottles to share with you here, I knew we’d have a bit of an issue since Eli has a strong preference for wide-neck bottles. Fortunately, I have a niece who’s 5 months old and is just beginning to take bottles, so we were able to test all the bottles with her, too. Each bottle here was tested at least once a day, for at least a week, by both babies. They’ve all withstood the dishwasher and refrigerator, and most have been warmed in this Bottle Warmer, all without any damage. And while I wasn’t able to test all of the bottles on the market today, I got my hands on a fair share of them.
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Best Overall | Tommee Tippee Bottles
We went into this bottle experiment as Tommy Tippee fans, and they are still our favorite bottles (plus now they’re my niece’s favorite, too!). They are easy to assemble, easy to wash, and have never leaked — even in transport. We’ve used our set for almost 9 months and they are still in perfect condition. Eli took to these bottles easily, has never had an issue with choking as he has with several other bottles, and even my very picky, exclusively breastfed niece loves them.
My only complaint with the Tommy Tippee bottles is that the stage 1 nipples that come with the bottles are so slow that Eli collapses them the first few uses. After they’ve been used and washed once or twice, this isn’t a problem, and it’s never been an issue with their stage 2 nipples. However, for an older baby, the stage 1 nipples are fairly tight. This can actually be a selling point if you’re looking for a slow flow nipple, especially if you’re using them to bottle-feed while breastfeeding, but you may want to try the stage 2 nipples for an older or typically bottle-fed baby.
Best Wide-Neck Bottle | The First Years
I had never seen these bottles before this review, but as soon as I got my hands on them, I had a feeling that Eli would love them … and I was right. The nipple is shaped just like the GumDrop pacifiers (similar to the Soothies that are given in the hospital), which are favorites in this house. Eli took these bottles without complaint, and while the slow flow nipple was a little too slow for him, the faster flow was perfect. They also have a venting system at the bottom of the bottle to help reduce gas intake. And bonus: these are probably the most adorable bottles I’ve ever seen.
The downside of these bottles is that they are very wide so I can only fit two in my bottle cooler instead of three like some others. And they do have some extra parts in the bottom which makes them slightly more time-consuming to take apart, wash, and put back together, but I’m talking like 10 seconds more, so it’s not much of a burden. These are a new go-to in our house!
Best Colic-reducing Bottle | MAM
I will be up front with you that Eli did not care for these bottles at all. Mam nipples are orthodontic, so they’re not round and they’re much better for oral development, which is a pretty great selling point for this bottle. But Eli is an orthodontic nipple hater. He won’t take an orthodontic pacifier or bottle, no matter how hard we try. All that said, I still think these are great bottles and my niece loves them.
My biggest complaint for all of these colic-reducing bottles is the parts. Some of them are so complex you need special brushes to clean them, and I just don’t have the time or energy for that kind of thing. These bottles are easy to assemble with just three parts to the bottle itself, all of which are dishwasher-safe, and though it’s technically a wide-neck bottle, it’s not so wide that we can’t store three across in our coolers.
Runner-up for Best Colic-reducing Bottle | Tommee Tippee
I was very fortunate that Eli was never a very gassy baby and we never had to deal with anything I would come even close to labeling as colic, but he was a heavy spitter upper for a long time and I wish I’d tried these bottles back in those days. I like them especially for when I have to supplement with formula because I can’t seem to do that without generating a lot of bubbles and these bottles are great for reducing his air intake.
My only real criticism, and the reason this got runner up, was due to the number of parts. There’s 3 parts in addition to the bottle, ring, nipple and cap, and though they’re hardly difficult to clean, they definitely take more time than the Mam or a regular bottle. Still overall a great option for reducing gas.
Best for Daycare and Travel | Playtex
We used Playtex Drop-In bottles for a while before switching over to the Tommee Tippee. We chose these initially for two reasons. For one, the slow flow nipple reduced the frequency of Eli choking, and secondly, they’re easy for daycare and travel because of the disposable drop-ins. As an added bonus, the bottles themselves are very inexpensive, so it’s a pretty small investment to try them out. They are great for vacation because all you really need to do is clean the nipples instead of the whole system. I also like them for daycare because each liner is sterile, so you can send the whole system and have fewer concerns about keeping bottle parts clean or packing enough for a full day.
The reason we ultimately switched from these bottles was two-fold. First, the cost of the drop-in liners, though not terrible, did begin to add up and was more than the cost of a regular (non-disposable) bottle system. And also the waste that they produced was troubling. We still use these periodically for out-of-town trips, and I’d strongly recommend them for any baby who has difficulty with choking while eating, but they will cost you more than a regular bottle system in the long run.
Best Bottle-to-Sippy System | Thinkbaby
We have had a lot of trouble getting Eli to transition from a bottle to a sippy, and after trying nearly every brand, we’ve had some success with the ThinkBaby system. The bottle itself is pretty straightforward in the narrow-neck bottle market. And while Eli wasn’t completely in love with the original nipple (though the flow was fine and the bottle was easy to hold), he has really taken to the sippy nipple. The best part is that the sippy nipple and the straw system both fit on the same base bottle that comes with the regular bottle nipples, so you don’t need a million bottles around the house.
This system has been great for us to experiment with the sippy and the straw without having to dirty a ton of bottles, cups, and parts, and the gripper wings on the bottle have been perfect for Eli to practice with.
Best Breastfeeding Bottle | The First Years
Back when Eli was five days old and we were struggling with breastfeeding, this was the very first bottle he ever took. Our lactation consultant recommended these and we were really pleased with them. The cool thing about these bottles are that the baby has to “latch” onto them like they do while breastfeeding in order to compress the inner nipple and get the milk to flow. That system makes these great for babies who are struggling with breastfeeding but still need to eat. The nipples are pretty slow and have a large base with a smaller tip, instead of the longer, narrower nipple found on most other bottles.
The downside to these bottles are the number of parts required to put together and tear down. They’re a little complicated to put together and use at first, but it doesn’t take long to figure them out. We switched from these once we gave up on breastfeeding, but my sister used them while supplementing for my niece who had jaundice and they were able to return to exclusive breastfeeding without a problem.
Best Glass Bottle | AVENT
Prior to trying these out, I didn’t even realize that glass bottles were an option these days. I think somewhere along the way I assumed that these went out of fashion with the increasingly prevalent plastic bottles, so it was interesting to play around with them. These were easy to assemble, easy to wash, and Eli took fairly well to them. The glass is nice and thick, so my initial fears about breaking them were quickly alleviated.
The downside here is the cost. I would imagine if you’re interested in using only glass bottles that it would be worth it for the longevity of use, but we’re good with BPA-free plastic, so to spend $40 on two bottles is a little out of our price range. I’m told you can get them a little more reasonably priced at some baby stores, but my local one didn’t carry them. I’ve also heard others have had issues with venting while eating, but we didn’t have any trouble at all.
Runner-up for Best Glass Bottle | Dr. Brown’s Bottles
I have some friends who swear by Dr. Brown’s bottles for their kids, particularly for the natural flow system that helps reduce gas. And in a way, these are the exact opposite of the Avent glass bottles. They are relatively inexpensive, they vent air amazingly, but they have a million parts that are hard to clean. Eli pretty much hated the nipple on these, but my niece took to them really well, so for narrow-neck bottle lovers these seem to be well-tolerated.
The reason these bottles got runner-up is due to the cleaning factor. They need their own brush to get the tube really clean and storing all the parts while they dry is kind of a pain. All in all, It’s still a really great bottle and the price is right — they’re just not for the dishwashing haters.