Plastic bottles are one of the safest, easiest to use, and most economical ways to feed your baby. Plastic baby bottles are made from one of two different plastics: polyethylene or polycarbonate.
Polycarbonate plastic is a clear, shiny, glassy-looking hard plastic and accounts for more than 90% of the baby bottle market. Polycarbonate plastic baby bottles are clear, so you can see how much liquid your baby has consumed. They are durable, so you don't have to worry about them breaking. Polyethylene bottles, although opaque, are also durable, shatter-resistant, and lightweight.
As with any bottle, you want to minimize the amount of air your baby swallows while feeding. Swallowing air causes gas and can be terribly upsetting and painful for your baby. Air enters the bottle through a small vent in the nipple and mixes with the breast milk or formula. This forms bubbles, resulting in a greater incidence of gas and spitting up for your baby. There are plastic baby bottles on the market designed to help control the amount of air your baby swallows.
Plastic baby bottles with a disposable plastic liner are made to throw away the plastic liner after each feeding instead of cleaning and sterilizing the entire bottle. These are favorites with many parents who find the task of cleaning and sterilizing bottles time consuming. The disposable plastic liners also minimize the air your baby swallows. As your baby drinks, the liner collapses around the liquid. This forces liquid into the nipple, keeping it filled rather than filling up with air between gulps.
Some plastic baby bottles are designed with a vent on the bottom. This allows your baby to drink continuously without having to break suction during feeding and increase the amount of air entering through the nipple. The vented bottom is usually a plastic screw-in bottom piece covered by a vented silicone pad. This allows air to circulate from below, keeping the liquid moving forward as your baby sucks. This prevents the formation of air bubbles and decreases gas.
The angled bottles allow you to feed your baby in a semi-upright position which keeps the nipple filled with liquid, not air. It is believed that feeding with angled bottles can help prevent liquid from flowing into the middle ear, minimizing the risk of ear infections.
Some plastic bottles hold a heating cartridge in the bottom of the bottle that heats the breast milk or formula as you shake the bottle. Other plastic bottles have a heat sensor along the sides of the bottle that change color if the liquid is too hot.
Choosing the right baby bottle is not as easy as you think. Polycarbonate bottles, for instance, have been the subject of controversy because of a chemical called bisphenol-A which is believed to leach from polycarbonate plastic into breast milk or baby formula when heated for 20 to 30 minutes at 100 degrees centigrade. The testing on polycarbonate plastic bottles has left many parents uneasy, but the choices remain plentiful. A little research and experience and you will find the right bottle for you and your baby.
- Hands down, my favorite plastic baby bottles are the Avent Baby Bottles in the nine ounce size. The nipple has a natural shape, similar to breastfeeding, so feeding my daughter from the bottle wasn't too shocking for her. There are 5 different nipple flow rates so you can adjust the flow according to your baby's needs. I loved how the bottle felt in my hand – it was easy to hold for a long feeding. The 9 ounce bottles are short and squat and don't take up a lot of room in the fridge. They are easy to clean because of the wide mouth, and are also dishwasher safe. Without a doubt, my absolute favorite baby bottle.