When it comes to parenting, nothing is ever simple, is it? Sometimes, it feels like just as soon as you master one challenge, your baby marches onto the next one and you’re stuck at square one again. With my baby, it certainly seemed like she was always outgrowing whatever feeding solution I came up with for her.
I planned to breastfeed my baby exclusively for the first year, just as my doctor suggested I should. But I’d heard nightmarish tales of babies refusing to breastfeed after trying bottles, and I was worried because I definitely didn’t want my baby to stop nursing entirely.
“Nipple confusion” sounded funny to me at first until I considered how bad it would be if it happened to me and my little one. When she started feeding erratically after I introduced her first bottle, I wondered if I had ruined a good thing. Now I know that I should have paid a little more attention to that bottle I’d given her!
What are the best bottles for breastfed babies? Is there anything you can use to stop that breast/bottle confusion from developing? Let’s find out.
- Withstand heating and squeezing
- Great for vacations
- Close to breastfeeding experience
- Inexpensive option
- Built-in anti-colic system
- Features multiple nipple holes
- Milk cools and warms faster
- Helps with reflux and colic
- Chunky, tactile shape
- Realistic nipple look & feel
- Easy to assemble and clean
- Helps fight colic
- Affordable set
- Anti-colic valve
- Once won American Baby’s award
- Easy to clean or fill
- Compatible with any Avent nipple
- Anti-colic features
- Great choice for picky babies
- Natural feeling nipple
- Collapse-resistant nipple
- Realistic nipple
- Great for babies that refused bottle
- High quality and non-toxic materials
- Ensure extra hygiene
- Generous flow
- Easy to assemble
What Your Breastfed Baby Wants in a Bottle
Buying bottles for breastfed babies requires some thinking ahead — you can’t just grab any old bottle and call it good. And you don’t want to risk turning your baby off breastfeeding forever because they learn some bad habits on a poorly designed nipple.
Put yourself in the mindset of an infant and consider the following when choosing the perfect feeding substitute so that they won’t turn their noses up the next time they’re offered a real-life breast.
You need any bottle you choose to have a similar feel to your breast to help your baby avoid any confusion. This means avoiding strangely shaped or weighted bottles that take more motor control to manage than your baby might currently have. Look for soft-bodied, round, silicone models.
This is the most important. The nipple actually has to make your baby work to get milk, just like they would if nursing from you. If you offer a nipple that just pours milk into their mouths no matter the latch or effort, they are going to prefer that every time. Nipples should also be shaped as closely as possible to your own, and respond to the same sucking motions. Look for “accordion” style nipples that bend and flex as your baby feeds.
Closely related to this is the flow speed. Notice that your own breasts aren’t exactly milk hoses! You’ll want a flow that matches your own; not too fast or too slow.
Babies may not have fully developed brains yet, but they still recognize people and things by appearance (1). If you breastfeed them for the first few weeks and then switch to a rounded bottle that looks breast-like, they’ll catch on and go for it. You might also think about a tilted bottle to mimic the natural breastfeeding position.
When a baby suckles, they create a vacuum. This is a good thing for your breasts, since it maintains your flow. But for bottles, air bubbles can form and give your baby gas or colic. Vents allow this air to escape through either the top, the bottom, or a specially designed straw. Venting will go a long way to creating a more natural milk flow.
What Mom Wants in a Bottle
In some ways, it’s easier to go shopping for your new home than it is to pick out a baby bottle! At least with home shopping, you know what you want. You’ve lived in a house your whole life so you have a good idea about what your basic needs are.
But with bottle shopping, things are different. This is a completely foreign task if you’re a new parent, and you likely don’t have time or money to waste on trial and error.
Start by narrowing down your search to some appropriate bottles that meet the standards your breastfed baby would tell you about if they could, then take a look at the next set of criteria we think is important.
Colic goes way above and beyond normal baby crying. If your baby suffers from colic, they’ll be crying around the clock (2). You’ll be so tired you’ll consider making a deal with the devil if the crying would just stop for an hour. But before you sign away your soul, look for one that has anti-colic features, like inserts or vents. Those features cut down on the air your baby swallows, which can reduce the amount of gas and fussiness they’ll have (3).
Ideally, the cost wouldn’t be the first consideration. Unfortunately, it’s one of the top priorities for many moms who are more budget-conscious. While you should definitely factor price into the equation, avoid letting it be the deciding factor. You might buy cheap bottles and regret it later. Or you could learn they don’t work for your baby, and end up buying more expensive ones anyway.
Ease of cleaning
Some baby bottles, especially the ones with anti-colic features, can have so many parts that you feel like you’re assembling a bomb. That’s a lot of work for someone who probably didn’t get three hours of uninterrupted sleep in the past week. If you hate your bottles because they take too much effort to take apart and clean thoroughly, keep looking until you find one that’s lower maintenance.
Are you fine with plastics or silicone? Or do you prefer the appeal of old-fashioned glass bottles? If you want something that’s going to last, doesn’t contain harmful chemicals and is easier to clean, go with glass (4). If you feel the benefits of plastic bottles outweigh their potential health risks, then you’ll find plenty of options too. Fans of silicone will be glad to know there are quality silicone bottles available too.
Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies of 2020
For great bottles that won’t confuse your breastfed baby, here are our top 10 picks in 2020:
1. Comotomo Baby Bottles
When you’re on the go, you don’t have too much time to mess with bottles. You need something that can be put together in a flash, that will do the job you need it to, and that isn’t hard to clean. When you’re on vacation, you want things to be low-maintenance, and your bottles are no exception.
It doesn’t get any simpler than these. So simple to assemble, you’ll be able to stick your whole hand in this ultra wide-neck bottle to clean it when you don’t have access to a dishwasher.
These are as close as you can get to the breastfeeding experience. The nipples are big and soft. In a dramatic twist from most other bottles, even the base of the bottle is flexible, so your baby can grab and squish the bottle when she’s feeding, just like she does with your breast.
You can microwave them or stick it in boiling water or the dishwasher. If you have a bottle sterilizer, you can toss it in there too. It won’t warp or melt no matter which sterilization method you choose.
Both the nipple and the base of the bottle are made completely from silicone. And if you’re worried about colic, these have dual anti-colic vents.
- These bottles will hold up to all the heating and squeezing you can throw their way.
- You don’t even need a bottle brush to clean these, which is great for vacations.
- Will help you avoid breastfed babies rejecting their bottles.
- These bottles are fairly expensive.
- They can give off a plastic smell when warmed up.
2. NUK Simply Natural Bottles
One of the reasons you might be breastfeeding, to begin with, is because of all the money it saves. You don’t want to see those savings eaten up when you buy bottles. Luckily, there are some great affordable bottle options for breastfed babies.
This three-pack of 9-ounce bottles combines great performance with an affordable price. Because they are so big, if you buy these you won’t have to upsize from any newborn bottles you might have considered purchasing.
It features multiple nipple holes that give a more realistic feel, like your baby is sucking on your breast. Depending on what flow the nipple is, it can have up to nine tiny holes. Plus, the wide silicone nipple stretches with your baby’s movement, which means she won’t break her latch as often.
To help cut down on spit up and gas, these use a one-piece anti-colic system. Because the colic system is built into the bottle, you won’t have to mess with trying to clean out lots of complicated pieces.
The bottles are stain resistant, which will keep them looking newer for longer. An ergonomic design makes this bottle comfortable for both you and your baby to hold during feeding time.
- Inexpensive option.
- Built-in anti-colic system means they are easy to clean.
- The milk comes from more than one hole, just like a real breast.
- The milk won’t come out of the bottle unless she forms a proper latch.
- The cap can be tough to pull off the top.
- Because of a tiny air hole at the top of the nipple, you must position the bottle correctly when feeding.
3. Nanobebe Baby Bottles
Technology has come a long, long way since the days of those clunky glass bottles with one-size-fits-all rubber teats. If you're the kind of mom who doesn't mind branching out and experimenting with something a little different, consider all the new and frankly brilliant bottle designs on the market today.
Nanobebe is really trying to break the mold with these “bottles.” The shape is definitely the most breast-like on this list, and consists of a hollowed dome, a little like an upturned bowl. The nipple is angled on the one side and either you or your baby hold around the lower rim as they feed.
If you’re concerned about retaining as much of the nutritional content of your pumped milk as possible, the makers of this bottle claim that the design optimizes heating and cooling in such a way that the vitamins and minerals are not damaged on their way from your breast to your baby.
You can pump directly into these bottles, and because they’re concave, they stack rather nicely. They’re anti-colic, too, and will inhibit bacterial growth for extra peace of mind.
- Milk cools faster and warms faster because of the way it’s stored inside.
- Helps with reflux and colic.
- Chunky, tactile shape to hold for self feeders.
- The large, somewhat awkward shape means you don’t see your baby’s face as you feed.
4. Mimijumi Get Going Bottle Kit
Despite their use of questionable chemicals, plastic bottles are sturdy, affordable and they don’t break if you drop them. There are many plastic bottles that can mimic the feeling of breastfeeding so you have a good chance of finding one that won’t confuse your baby.
Your baby should love the appearance of this bottle set. The large, flesh-colored nipple is surprisingly boob-like, and looks and feels like the real deal. It’s so realistic-looking your baby might do a double take when they see it.
The set comes with four bottles — two in the Very Hungry bigger size and two in the Not So Hungry smaller size. There are hardly any parts to fuss with these, which makes them extremely easy to assemble. You don’t even need to put a ring around the nipple to hold it onto the base because the nipple screws directly onto the bottle.
The slow-flow nipples and the nipple design help ward off baby fussiness caused by colic. They don’t contain BPA, and the super wide necks mean you’ll be able to clean them in seconds.
- Realistic looking and feeling nipple.
- Easy to put together and clean.
- Helps fight colic.
- They are really expensive.
- The nipples can be a little difficult to screw on correctly without having leaks.
5. Munchkin Latch Newborn Bottles
Not being able to soothe your crying baby no matter what you do is tough for a mom. By the time your baby gets gas from sucking in too much air while feeding, it’s already too late. They're going to be miserable for a while until that gas works its way through — and you’ll be right by their side feeling just as miserable. Finding an anti-colic bottle is your best bet to nip this problem in the bud.
This set offers a lot for a reasonable price. You’ll get two 4-ounce bottles with slow flow nipples, two 8-ounce bottles with medium flow nipples, a newborn pacifier, a bottle and valve brush, two pump adapters, and four sealing discs. The pump adapters will allow you to connect these to many breast pumps.
These are a good choice for preventing colic because the stretchiness of the nipple helps encourage the right latch. A proper latch can ensure your baby is taking in less air with every sip because the nipple will move with your baby’s mouth. The anti-colic valve at the base also reduces any gas your baby might suffer from as a result of feeding.
They are made out of plastic and silicone, so everything in this set can be cleaned in the top rack of the dishwasher. Munchin also won the 2015 American Baby’s award for Best Bottle Chosen by Moms.
- Affordable with a lot of extras in the set.
- The anti-colic valve and latch nipple helps reduce colic.
- The anti-colic valve is hard to clean, even with the included brush.
- You have to make sure everything is assembled perfectly or you’ll have a leaky bottle.
6. Philips Avent Natural Glass Baby Bottles
Finding glass bottles that look and feel like real breasts is a challenge. The glass won’t have the softness that plastic or silicone does. Your best bet is to look for a breast-like nipple that will help trick your baby into thinking she’s getting the real deal.
Philips Avent has a lot of products aimed at making the breastfeeding experience a successful one for moms. These are just one more tool in the shed to help with that particular battle.
These bottles come in a three-pack, and they can each hold up to 4 ounces. What makes them really shine when it comes to bottle feeding breastfed babies is the realistic nipple. The nipples are made of soft silicone and are wider than many other nipples, which will hopefully remind your baby of a breast.
They have an incorporated anti-colic system that doesn’t require any hassle to assemble, and are straightforward and easy to operate.
Philips uses strong borosilicate glass to manufacture these, which means your baby won’t be ingesting any harmful chemicals like he might with a plastic bottle.
- The wide neck makes these easy to clean or fill without spilling.
- Any nipple from the Avent brand will fit.
- Anti-colic features should make your baby more comfortable.
- These are smaller and your baby will outgrow them in a few months.
- They aren’t made to withstand sudden temperature changes, like being moved from the freezer to a bottle warmer.
7. Lansinoh mOmma NaturalWave Bottle
When you think about, babies can have personal preferences just like adults can. A perfectly good bottle might become a favorite for one baby, while another rejects it immediately. There's a lot of variation in nipple shape and size, and your little one might simply like drinking from one kind more than another. If you've got a picky baby, consider a nipple that's on the shorter or smaller side.
These bottles from Lansinoh consistently receive good reviews, even from parents who have struggled to coax their babies onto other brands. The shape is a little different from the usual, and sometimes that’s all it takes to get a baby to accept it. The surface of this one is matte and thick, and the nipple itself tapers off less sharply, so it doesn’t feel as long in the mouth.
This NaturalWave design is meant to promote just the same sucking motions your baby would be practicing at your breast. These motions are necessary for proper oral development and a good latch.
Besides the nipple, the rest of the bottle is constructed of sturdy plastic and a wide, easy-to-clean neck. Many moms have also discovered that this bottle fits a range of other brand nipples, too.
- A great choice for even picky babies.
- Natural feeling, shallow, matte nipple.
- Nipple is collapse-resistant, so your baby can’t invert it and cause a mess.
- The nipple may be too fast for very young babies.
- The flexibility of the nipples means they can sometimes crack and leak.
8. Tommee Tippee Closer Nature Bottles
The day you achieve a good, firm latch while breastfeeding your baby is a huge achievement, but some little ones will always find it a bit difficult, and lose their latch often. If you're switching to bottles but you have an infant who hasn't quite gotten the hang of a perfect latch yet, you'll want a bottle nipple that makes it as easy as possible for them.
Tommee Tippee bottles have a distinctive shape that really fits well into little hands. Breastfeeding experts have carefully designed the nipple to closely resemble a breast, with a wide base, flattish profile and long, natural looking nipple. This company claims that more than 90 percent of babies will accept this nipple within three attempts.
There are different flow rates to choose from, and a sophisticated anti-colic valve mechanism that means your baby won’t be sucking in tons of air once they do form a successful latch.
The body of the bottle can be held in a few different ways, which means you’ll find a comfortable hold whatever your position. Choose from 5, 9 or 11-ounce bottle sizes to match your baby’s appetite.
- Realistic nipple that’s easy to latch onto.
- Great for babies that have refused other bottle styles.
- High quality and non-toxic materials.
- The measurements printed on the side sometimes rub off.
- The nipples may need replacement more often than other brands, especially if your baby is prone to chewing.
9. Dr. Brown's Wide Neck Bottle
Some brands make really short, squat bottles with extra-wide necks. The reason for this is that the wider the neck, the wider the nipple, and the more it resembles the width and depth of your own breasts. Babies who are offered a nipple with a wider, flatter base are less likely to get confused when it comes to breastfeeding again.
Dr. Brown’s bottles are always solid all-rounders and this wide-necked model is no different. Made of shaped BPA-free plastic that’s easy for both you and your baby to hold, the bottle offers a feeding experience that’s as close to being at mom’s breast as possible.
The venting system consists of a straw valve that reduces colic, gas and spit up. It can be removed to clean, or you can place everything in the dishwasher and bottle sterilizer. The bottles can be bought in packs of 2 to 8 to suit your needs, and the price is reasonable, and both a 4 ounce and 8 ounce bottle are available.
If you have a baby who is showing signs of nipple confusion or else one who gets a little colicky now and then, this bottle will help you kill two birds with one stone.
- Vent system really does remove every last bubble of air in the milk.
- BPA-free and can be put in the dishwasher.
- Quality material that holds up after repeated washes.
- Can be a little tricky to clean the inner valve.
- Some have found that the bottles leak.
- Multiple parts to put together.
10. Playtex Bottle with Disposable Liners
If there's one constant in a new mom's life, it's washing up. If you feel like you're stuck on a merry-go-round of constant bottle washing, you may want to look for a better solution, especially if you've got more than one mouth to feed or a very hungry older baby. Specially designed bottle liners can halve your housework and leave you with more free time to enjoy your baby.
These bottles from Playtex have a very clever disposable bag system: simply add a liner to the bottle and fill with milk as usual, then discard the liner once you’re done — they’re recyclable.
The liners are not only a good idea for cutting down on washing up, but they serve an anti-colic function, too. As your baby drinks, the bag collapses with the vacuum, and no air enters. The bottles are BPA-free and the liners come pre-sterilized and ready to go so that you can get going with a feeding session as quickly as possible.
The bottle itself also has an innovative bending feature, and the top can hinge slightly so that your baby can get comfortable no matter which way they angle the bottle.
- Sterilized bags ensure extra hygiene.
- Generous flow for bigger/hungrier babies.
- Easy enough to assemble, even one-handed.
- The bags hold 10 ounces, so if your baby drinks less than this, you’ll have to take care to ensure that all the air is squeezed out the rest of the bag before you place it in the bottle.
Tips for Buying Bottles
When you finally get a handle on what type of bottle you want, you need to go through one more checklist to make sure you’re not sabotaging your own success by forgetting something crucial.
To make sure you aren’t making a big mistake, here are some tips you should follow when buying that first set of bottles.
- Don’t buy in bulk: If you run out and buy 20 bottles only to find your baby hates them, you’re going to be sorry. Instead, find three potential candidates, buy one or two of each and see which works best for your baby before making a bigger investment.
- Consider getting the largest size: Those cute little 4-ounce bottles are perfectly sized for a newborn. But that newborn is going to grow quickly, and before long they’ll be guzzling 6 ounces of milk, not 4 (5). Buy the biggest sized bottle when you’ve found a brand you like; you can always buy a pack of slow-flow nipples to go with them until your baby is ready for faster-flow nipples.
- Consider your breast pump brand: Compatibility is a great thing. If you buy bottles that are compatible with your breast pump, you’ll be able to pump directly into the bottles, which will save you some extra dishwashing. What new mom doesn’t like saving her time and energy?
- If this is your second baby, get new bottles: I know no one likes to spend extra money, but if you have a bunch of older bottles that you used years ago with your first baby, they may no longer be appropriate, especially if they contain dangerous BPA (6).
When Do I Introduce Bottles to my Breastfed Baby?
There’s no telling how well your baby will deal with the differences between feeding at the breast and feeding from a bottle. Some babies easily switch between the two even from a young age, while others get hooked on one and have trouble getting used to the other. If you and your baby are nursing happily, there’s no need to add a bottle if you don’t want to.
Wait a few weeks
But beyond that, your choice of when to introduce bottles (and which kind to use) will all depend on you:
- If you’ll have your baby with you all the time and don’t mind public nursing, you can hold off on bottle feeding.
- If there’s even a chance you may be separated at some point, it’s a good idea to get your baby used to a bottle.
- If you’re working and need to pump milk to leave with your baby at daycare, obviously introducing them to a bottle is a lot more of a priority.
- If you’re having trouble feeding, latching, or suffer cracked nipples or infections, you might want to start bottle feeding sooner just for the relief.
- If in doubt, follow your baby’s lead. Take it slow and make the introduction patiently and in stages. They’ll come around.
Tips for Bottle-feeding a Breastfed Baby
As a mom you’ll already know that nothing in the world can interfere with your baby’s own pace when it comes to their development. Slow and steady wins this race, and a bottle that’s introduced in a low-stress manner is more likely to be accepted. So relax — you’ve got this!
Try these tips to get your baby to take to a new bottle.
- Start when your baby isn’t hungry. Offer a bottle after a normal feed, at night, with just a small amount of milk.
- Choose a breast-like nipple and opt for a slow flow, particularly if your baby is on the younger side.
- Get someone else to do the first bottle feed. A baby might not take to a bottle if they can sense their mother’s presence or worse, can see your actual breasts just inches away.
- Vary the time and place you offer the bottle, and try seating your baby in different positions.
- Experiment with different temperatures of the milk.
- Many brands offer kits with different nipple sizes. Try each of them and see which one sticks.
- A neat trick is to dab a bit of your own breast milk on the nipple.
What is Paced Feeding and How Can it Help?
When you eat your meals, do you sit down and gobble it all in one steady stream without taking a breath? Or do you prefer to stop once in a while and appreciate your food, or have a chat with your dinner companion? Babies are not so different, and in fact, natural breastfeeding follows a similar pattern, with pauses and slow, measured intake.
A natural way to feed
When your baby feeds more slowly and has to work more to get the milk, they learn to manage their own satiety. Taking pauses throughout a feed means your baby learns to accurately recognize fullness because their bellies aren’t quickly filled before they can register that they’ve had enough.
Paced feeding is thought to be less stressful for babies, and may prevent poor eating habits that could predispose them to obesity later in life (8). Plus, it may be a more obvious feeding style for those babies still fond of breastfeeding.
- Sit the baby upright and offer the bottle horizontally. This regulates milk flow.
- After 30 seconds or so, tip the bottle down or remove the teat to stop the flow.
- If your baby looks like they’re gulping, tilt them forward to let the milk flow back a little, and to encourage them to pause.
- Watch for your baby pausing naturally on their own, and wait for them to initiate feeding again.
- Avoid over-feeding. If your baby looks drowsy, bored, or sucks more slowly, they may have had enough to eat.
The right bottle and nipple will make bottle feeding more natural, but you can also go a long way to improve the experience by changing the manner you bottle feed.
One possible situation when it isn’t appropriate to use paced feeding is if you have a naturally fast letdown and your baby is already accustomed to that. Paced feeding for a baby already used to a fast flow will just feel frustrating. Also avoid too much paced feeding if your baby is having a particularly hard time with gas and colic, as this may make things worse.
The Bottom Line
We are firm believers in not paying more for something if you don’t need to. That’s why our top pick as the best bottle for breastfed babies is the NUK Simply Natural. It’s inexpensive and it works really well.
The built-in anti-colic system does a nice job, and I like how they made more than one milk hole in each nipple to imitate the feeding experience of a real breast. I also like how milk won’t come out unless your baby forms a correct latch.
With this bottle, you’ll be able to switch back and forth from the breast to the bottle without any problems.
If you’re willing to spend more money, the Comotomo Bottles are also one of our favorites. Read more about them in this review.
For those moms who’ve successfully breast and bottle fed, do you have any suggestions for those of us navigating this challenge for the first time? Share and comment below!