Best Baby Bottle Overall: Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle
After talking to lactation consultants, surveying more than a thousand Baby Bargains readers and researching dozens of baby bottles, we’ve chosen the Avent as the Best Baby Bottle.
Avent gets the nod for its well-designed nipple, which is clinically proven to reduce colic (uncontrollable, extended crying that starts in some babies around one month of age). Avent bottles are perhaps the most popular baby bottles on the market today. Many parents swear by them for being easy to clean (easier than the multi-piece Dr. Brown’s bottles). Feedback from readers is excellent.
Avent bottles: What We Like—and What We Don’t
Avent makes two types of baby bottles: Anti Colic with AirFree Vent and Natural. The big difference between the bottles is their nipples. The Natural is breast-shaped plus it has “Comfort Petals,” which are supposed to make the nipple softer and more flexible. The Anti Colic version has a one piece vent to keep air out. FYI: you can’t use the Natural nipples on the Anti Colic bottles or visa versa.
Lest you think the Natural bottles aren’t “anti colic,” never fear. The nipple itself has a twin valve, anti-colic system to keep baby from ingesting too much air. Regardless, both types are compatible with Avent’s breast pump, the Comfort Double. While the Anti Colic and the Natural are available in the BPA-free plastic, only the Natural comes in a glass version.
Prices vary depending on the number of bottles, size and type (but generally they are priced in the middle of the pack). If you find them pricey, there is some good news: they go on sale frequently.
You can get a starter set (put it on your registry) like this one, if you don’t know which sizes to buy. They even offer one that includes a microwave sterilizer.
Avent bottles are perhaps the most popular baby bottles on the market today, along with Dr. Brown’s. Many parents swear by them for reducing colic and gas and being easy to clean (easier than the multi-piece Dr. Brown’s bottles). Feedback from readers is excellent.
The biggest complaint about Avent: the measurement markings on the side rub off after a few months of use. This understandably frustrates parents who’ve shelled out this much a bottle, only to discover it’s now hard to measure out formula and water.
Some readers report trouble with leaking, although this may be because some folks over-tighten the top. (Avent addresses this issue on their web site with graphics on how much to tighten). Leaks can also occur with the Anti Colic bottle if the gasket ring is incorrectly installed. Make sure the blue side is always facing down. And while there is no separate gasket for the Natural bottles, the nipple has to be set into the bottle correctly or it too can leak.
Overall, these complaints are minor compared to the effusive praise the bottles receive from readers. We highly recommend them.
Best Baby Bottle For Fussy Babies: Dr. Brown’s Original Bottle
Dr. Brown’s baby bottles are neck and neck with Avent when it comes to popularity. Dr. Brown’s big selling point is its two-piece vent system which keeps air out of the milk or formula ensuring the nipple never collapses. They claim this type of venting (called “positive-pressure flow”) reduces colic, spit-up and gas.
Dr. Brown’s makes four types of bottles: the Original (the flagship), a wide-neck version, the Options polycarbonate bottles and Options glass bottles. Their most recent bottle, Options is so named because the bottle gives parents the (wait for it) “option to use it with or without the internal vent.” Since colic starts around three weeks of age and ends around three months, we guess Dr. Brown’s wanted to give parents of older babies the option of using the bottle without the vent.
Overall feedback from parents is excellent and prices are similar to Avent and other quality bottles. They aren’t perfect though. The biggest complaint: cleaning all those parts. Of course, if it soothes a fussy baby, they are worth it!
Best Baby Bottle, Glass: Philips Avent Natural Glass Baby Bottle
This is the same bottle brand as our top pick, just glass! We liked the thick, premium glass that Philips Avent used here. One caveat: be careful when using glass bottles like this in bottle warmers. Why? Glass heats up much quicker than plastic—and that can overheat the bottle. Always test the milk or formula to make sure it is the correct temperature!
Best Baby Bottle Gift Set: Tommee Tippee Advanced Anti-Colic Newborn Baby Bottle Feeding Gift Set
Bottle gift sets are popular shower gifts—and this set tops our list of recommendations. Why? Considering everything that is included, we thought it was quite budget-friendly. Tommee Tippee bottles are a parent favorite, thanks to their wide mouths and easy-to-clean design. This seat includes a portable bottle warmer, bottle brush, bottles, pacifiers and more.
Why Trust Us
We’ve been rating and reviewing baby bottles since 1994. In addition to hands on inspections of each bottle/nipple system, we have also consulted with lactation consultants and dentists as well as pediatricians.
Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews. We’ve been writing and reviewing baby gear since 1994. Yes, that long!
How we picked a winner
We evaluate baby bottles and nipple carefully with the assistance of lactation consultants (who help determine which bottles are closest to breastfeeding); pediatricians and dentists. It’s important to us to recommend bottles that will not only supply your baby with good nutrition (whether you breast or formula feed), but also won’t cause issues with colic or, later in life, teeth. We also check bottles for overall quality, cleanability and ease of use—for example, do they have a venting system to avoid swallowing too much air?
We also gather significant reader feedback (our book, Baby Bargains has over 1 million copies in print), tracking bottle quality and durability. Besides interviewing parents, we also regularly talk with retailers to see which brands are most trustworthy and other key quality metrics. Since we’ve been doing this since 1994, we have developed detailed profiles of major bottle brands that help guide our recommendations.
7 Things No One Tells You About Buying A Baby Bottle!
1. The nipple is really more important than the bottle.
There are three basic types of baby bottle nipples: orthodontic, flat-topped and bell-shaped. Which is best? All of them claim to be “closest to mom’s breast,” but here’s our advice. If you’re breastfeeding and only intend to give your baby an occasional bottle, these babies tend to do best with bell shaped nipples. With babies who are bottle fed from the get-go, any of the nipple shapes will likely work well.
Flat topped nipple.
Bell shaped nipple.
2. Nipples have different flow rates.
When you’re buying your first nipples/bottles, be sure you’re using newborn nipples. This means the hole in the nipple is small, allowing a slow flow. If you use a nipple for older babies, you’ll find your newborn gagging and sputtering. Some parents find their babies get used to the newborn nipple and never need to change to the nipples for older babies. And you’ll only need 4 oz. bottles if you’re feeding a newborn—that’s the right amount at first.
3. Baby bottles don’t need to be sterilized.
That’s right, you can just put baby bottles in the top rack of the dishwasher or wash them by hand in hot, soapy water. There is no proven benefit to sterilizing baby bottles. Hint: get a dishwasher basket to keep bottles and tops in place in your dishwasher. We like the Munchkin Deluxe Dishwasher Basket.
Below, a dishwasher basket for baby bottles is a good idea—all the small parts, like nipples, won’t get lost or melted.
4. You’ll want to buy enough bottles to get through a couple days without washing.
Who wants to wash bottles the first day you get home from the hospital? If you’re formula feeding baby every two to four hours, that’s quite a few bottles—as many as 12 bottles per day! For parents who are breastfeeding, three to six bottles is the max you’ll need. Because you don’t want to start bottle feeding until breastfeeding is established (a few weeks, usually), get a couple 4 oz. and a 9 oz.
5. We recommend silicone nipples, not latex.
Nipples are made of either silicone or latex. Silicone nipples last longer, don’t have any flavor, are heat resistant and may resist bacteria better than latex, according to our research. FYI: Latex can be allergenic too.
6. The cause of leaky baby bottles may be . . . you!
Before you return that leaky baby bottle to the store, consider how you are tightening the bottle. We see lots of complaints from parents that a particular baby bottle leaks, but when we ask manufacturers about this problem, they point out that parents often over tighten the bottle, which (ironically) can cause leaking.
Some baby bottles also have vents to allow air to escape the bottle and keep baby from swallowing that air leading to colic and discomfort. While the venting is a great idea, it complicates how the bottle is put together. Consult the bottle’s instructions on assembly (and yes, there are even YouTube videos) especially if you are a first-timer!
7. Lots of little parts = cleaning frustrations.
Sometimes simpler is better. Baby bottles with lots of gaskets, vent tubes and more, mean you have to clean more small parts and my eventually lose some of those parts.
Photo credit: Lucy Wolski