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Glass vs Plastic vs Stainless Baby Bottles

Medically Reviewed by Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC
Updated
Learn the pros and cons of each type of baby bottle.

Buying baby bottles is a much more difficult task than it seems. There are so many choices! With the different materials, shape and sizes, how are you supposed to know which is best?

In this article, we will cover the pros and cons of glass and plastic bottles. We’ll even go over a third option you probably didn’t know about, so you can make a conscious decision on which is best for your family.



Glass Baby Bottles

Pros of Glass Baby Bottles

  • No chemicals: Glass bottles contain no harmful chemicals, so there is no need to worry about chemicals leaching into your baby’s milk.
  • Easier to clean: They’re much easier to clean than plastic because they are less likely to develop scratches that hold on to odors and residue. Small scratches, which plastic is known for, create minute spaces for bacteria to grow. You can also plainly see when the glass is clean or dirty, compared to plastic.
  • Full sanitization: You can heat glass to higher temperatures without worrying about melts, so you can truly sanitize your bottles.
  • Tastes better: Plastic bottles absorb odors and impart various “flavors” into the breast milk/formula. Glass maintains the purity of taste of the liquid.
  • Compatible with common breast pumps: Using glass bottles doesn’t mean you need to buy separate bottles to fit your breast pump. Many glass bottles today work with common breast pumps. For example, glass bottles which work with Medela pumps include Lifefactory, Avent, Born Free, Evenflo, Joovy Boob, and Dr. Browns.
  • Durable: Glass bottles are more durable than plastic ones. Unless they break, your glass bottles can last through multiple children.

Cons of Glass Baby Bottles

  • More expensive: Glass bottles tend to be more expensive, as the material is more costly and the process to make them is more time-consuming.
  • Not readily available: You probably won’t find glass bottles at your local Target or WalMart. This may mean either checking a local health food store or ordering them off the internet.
  • Fewer options: There aren’t nearly as many options for glass bottles, as there are plastic, but there is still quite a good variety available on the internet. Common ones found on Amazon include Lifefactory, Avent, Dr. Brown’s. HEVEA, and Evenflo.
  • Heavy: Glass bottles are usually heavier, which can make it difficult for your baby to hold as they get older.
  • Small chance of breaking: We use Lifefactory glass bottles, and they have taken many hits to our hardwood floor, but we’ve never had a break. I would say unless your toddler is throwing it on a slab of concrete, the chances of your glass bottle breaking are relatively low. A silicone sleeve will greatly reduce the chances of breaking and contain the shattering glass if it does happen to break. Most glass bottles are now also made with reinforced glass. This means if they do break, they disintegrate into rounded pebbles, rather than sharp shards, reducing the chances of your little one getting hurt.

Take Note

Most glass bottles are now also made with reinforced glass. This means if they do break, they disintegrate into rounded pebbles, rather than sharp shards, reducing the chances of your little getting hurt.

Plastic Baby Bottles

Pros of Plastic Baby bottles

  • Readily available: You’ll readily find plastic bottles at local and chain retailers.
  • Easy to measure: With their transparent material and clear markings, plastic bottles make it easy to measure how much milk your baby is drinking.
  • Less expensive: Plastic bottles are generally less costly than glass ones, as the material is cheaper and they are quicker to make.
  • Light: They are lightweight, making it easier for your baby to grip and hold on to their bottle as they get older.
  • Won’t break: Plastic bottles might not last as long as glass, but they are relatively unbreakable, and you won’t have to worry about shattered glass.

Cons of Plastic Baby Bottles

  • More chemicals: Even though nearly all plastic bottles are now BPA-free, they still contain other chemicals with estrogenic activity. Be cautious of buying the cheapest models as they may be made with unsafe chemicals.
  • More difficult to clean: Plastic is prone to scratches, which create tiny spaces for bacteria to flourish and make cleaning difficult.
  • Can’t truly sanitize: Plastic can’t withstand the amount of heat glass can. Too-high temperatures increase the risk for melts and create leaching concerns.
  • Absorbs odors: Plastic is known to absorb odors, so you’ll be deodorizing your bottles more often than if you used glass.
  • Less durable: Plastics don’t last nearly as long as glass. They’re more likely to get scratched and damaged and will eventually wear down.

Stainless Steel Baby Bottles

Still undecided on if you should choose glass or plastic? Well, there’s a third option you probably didn’t know about.

In recent years, stainless steel has made its way into the baby bottle market. But just as with glass and plastic, these bottles have their benefits and drawbacks.

Take Note

Stainless steel tends to have insulating properties and will keep your baby’s milk warmer longer. It is also easy to clean, less prone to scratches, and extremely durable.

However, it’s difficult to measure how much formula/breast milk your baby is getting with stainless steel bottles. You’ll probably need to measure, mix and heat in an alternative container, then transfer to the stainless steel bottle. They are also hard to find and tend to be pricier than the convenient plastic bottles.


Choosing What’s Right

There are numerous choices when it comes to baby bottles.

Still, no matter how much research you do and which choice you think is best, your baby may think differently and ruin your well-thought-out plans. You may decide to use Joovy Boob glass bottles, but then your baby will only take milk out of Munchkin Latch plastic bottles.

Because babies can be finicky, I would recommend buying just one or two bottles of a few different kinds, until you figure out which one your baby prefers. Then you can invest in a complete stash. Your baby will choose what’s right.

Whatever they choose, it’s great to know you have options. After looking through the pros and cons, you can decide to use plastic, glass or stainless steel bottles.

Headshot of Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Medically Reviewed by

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC is a writer, editor, and board-certified lactation consultant for two busy pediatric practices. She is a former La Leche League Leader, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and Certified Infant Massage Instructor.
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