The best bottles for breastfed babies 2021
Whether it’s because your maternity leave is coming to an end, you want your partner to have an opportunity to feed the baby or, real talk, you just want a break, there are a number of reasons you may want to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby. The biggest issue? Which bottle to choose.
While there are tons of bottles marketed for breastfed babies, truth is, you may need to test out a few before finding the one that works best for your child. “Some babies are not finicky at all and will go back and forth between the breast and bottle with no problems,” says University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing professor Diane Spatz, who is also a nurse scientist for the lactation program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Others only want the real deal. It may just come down to trial and error.”
Regardless of baby’s personal preference, though, experts across the board recommend going with a slow-flow nipple when bottle-feeding a baby who’s used to nursing. “Milk may flow slower from the breast than the bottle, so it's important to choose a nipple with slow flow that can mimic the flow at the breast,” explains Dr. Susan Crowe, OB-GYN and clinical associate professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology-Maternal Fetal Medicine at Stanford University. “Even as the baby grows, there’s no need to use a faster-flow nipple since the flow at the breast doesn’t increase with the age of the baby."
"Additionally," Crowe adds, "most breastfed babies take smaller volumes per feed than those who are primarily bottle-fed, so there’s no need to buy bottles larger than three or four ounces.”
Searching for the best bottles for breastfed babies? Here, experts and moms weigh in on their favorite breastfeeding bottles.
1. Calma by Medela
“One of the hardest things about bottle nipples is that there isn’t a lot of research,” says Spatz. “There’s a lot of ‘most like breast’ or ‘reduces colic’ claims, but no actual research findings. The only one that’s been peer-reviewed for breastfed babies is the Calma nipple by Medela.”
The Calma only allows milk to flow from the bottle when the baby works to create a vacuum, which is the precise feeding behavior that they’ve been learning at the breast. “You want to look for a bottle nipple where the infant needs to apply vacuum to transfer the milk,” says Spatz.
Where to buy: Calma Breast Milk Feeding Set with Bottle ($20, Medela)
2. Dr. Brown’s Options+ Wide-Neck Baby Bottle
According to Simone Toomer, a certified doula and lactation consultant in New York City, Dr. Brown’s bottles work well for reducing gas and hiccups — which isn’t uncommon when breastfed babies drink from a bottle. Just be sure to choose a small-sized nipple, so the milk flow isn’t too fast.
“Go with a size 0 or 1 nipple, so baby can work at the bottle for the milk and not drink too quickly,” Toomer explains. “Paced bottle-feeding is also recommended, which is holding baby upright with the bottle horizontal. Additionally, every few sucks give baby a break to breathe, burp or just look around. This helps baby to not drink too fast or overeat.”
Where to buy: Dr. Brown’s Options+ Wide Neck Baby Bottle ($8, Dr. Brown’s Baby)
3. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottle
Another bottle brand Toomer recommends is Tommee Tippee, which is “great regarding shape and flow” with nipples that are 100% silicone — an important feature for babies who are used to nursing.
“When feeding at the breast, babies use tongue movements to manipulate the nipple to get milk to come out,” says Molly Petersen, a certified lactation consultant with Lansinoh. “So when looking at a bottle nipple, you’ll want one that is made of soft silicone, as this allows baby to use these same tongue movements when feeding from the bottle.”
Where to buy: Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottle ($13 for 3 pack, Target)
4. Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle
Avent is another bottle popular with breastfeeding moms, as it has a wide silicone nipple that mimics a natural latch-on. “I tried a few different kinds of bottles when I was nursing, and the Avent worked best with both of my boys,” says mom of two Michelle Stumbers of Cranford, New Jersey. “I think they liked the wider-shaped nipple.”
Where to buy: Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle ($22 for pack of 3, Target)
5. Lansinoh mOmma Bottle
Serena Basciano, a mom of two in Garwood, New Jersey, attempted a number of bottles with her breastfed babies and, both times, landed on the Lansinoh mOmma Feeding Bottle. “I tried so many bottles when I was ready to incorporate some bottle-feeding, and the Lansinoh mOmma wound up working really well with both of my girls,” Basciano says.
“When introducing a bottle, you want to look for nipples that are specifically designed for breastfed babies,” says Petersen. “Nipples with a wide base are best, as they allow the baby to latch onto the nipple in a similar fashion to the way they would latch at the breast.”
Where to buy: Lansinoh mOmma Feeding Bottle ($8, Target)
6. Nuk Simply Natural Glass Baby Bottle
“I was lucky in that my son didn’t have much of a problem going from breast to any bottle really,” says Jessica Palmeri, a mom of one in Los Angeles. “But he definitely seemed less gassy and more content when I used the Nuk Simply Natural Glass Bottle with the slow-flow nipple.”
“It’s so important to make sure the bottle has a truly slow-flowing nipple when you’re balancing breast and bottle,” says Leigh Anne O’Connor, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in New York City. “The goal is to have the bottle take about the same amount of time as the breast. If the bottle is too fast, the baby may get overfed or overwhelmed and possibly begin to refuse the breast.”
Where to buy: Nuk Simply Natural Glass Bottles ($24 for pack of 3, Amazon)
7. Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle
It’s no mistake that the Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle has almost 7,000 5-star reviews on Amazon: It’s one of the best bottles for breastfeeding, according to moms.
“The Comotomo bottle was the only one my daughter would take,” says mom of two Nina Flores of Brooklyn, New York. “And my husband was so happy that he could have that special time with her.”
Where to buy: Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle ($13, Amazon)
8. Mimijumi Not So Hungry Bottle
The Mimijumi Not So Hungry Bottle is a good choice for breastfed babies, as baby has to “latch” in order to get milk, and they control the flow. It’s also a good choice for parents who want to use paced bottle-feeding, as milk can’t gush out of the nipple and baby will have to work for it a bit.
“When bottle-feeding babies, parents and caregivers should hold the baby somewhat upright, so they can handle the flow,” notes O’Connor. “But perhaps even more important than that, babies should be fed from a bottle mindfully and lovingly.”
Where to buy: Mimijumi Not So Hungry Baby Bottle ($28, Mimijumi)
Again, there are a lot of bottles out there marketed towards breasted babies, but, as with all things child related, it’s important to see what works best for your baby. “In addition to making sure you choose a slow-flow nipple, the key thing when bottle-feeding a breastfed baby is seeing what they respond to best and listening to their cues about hunger and fullness,” says Toomer.