November 8, 2011
Ah, the whole question of feeding that soon-to-be baby! The shelves of books on breastfeeding. The reams of research on breast being best. The totally foreign concept of your “twins” being a source of sustenance instead of a source of sexy. Yeah. It’s a whole weird thing.
Part of that weird thing is baby bottles. Sooner or later, chances are your pending adorable baby is going to need one. Sure, yes, there are some moms who are able to stay at home – not just from an outside-the-home job but for every. single. feeding. – and, by their choice and their baby’s, only ever breastfeed until their toddler is ready for a cup. If you are in that situation, my hat is off to you. That is some serious stamina, planning and luck.
If that does not end up being you (by choice or not), don’t worry: your baby will also be healthy and happy! But you’re gonna need a bottle. So here’s my advice: go for the easy solution and be prepared that it won’t be the final one: your baby reserves the right to contradict you immediately and reverse his position later. Welcome to parenthood! As we all know, every baby is a unique flower- and how that flower expresses itself is often in direct contradiction to all your careful preparation, so buy a couple of bottles pre-baby and collect more once Junior has made his choice. If he goes for the one you bought, fantastic: get a few more of the same. If not, well, you’re only out $12, so no big deal. Move on to the next option.
Bottles can be complicated affairs. It’s not as simple as the container and the nipple top, at least not for most brands and babies, although that is the general idea.
A brief 411 on how bottles work:
As with pouring juice from a container, air needs to get into the bottle to prevent a vacuum from building up in the bottle, which would, in turn, prevent the baby from drinking. Air in the bottle though means the potential for the baby to swallow air as well as milk/formula. And swallowed air = gas in the baby = a crying baby, so many bottles now have some additional parts, usually called “vents”, below the nipple to reduce the chances that your baby will take in that air. But more parts = more little plastic pieces to wash and sterilize (in addition to all the breast pump parts – oh, and the baby herself, of course!) So when our childbirth instructor recommended Adiri bottles as a good choice and I found out that they had exactly two pieces, our choice was made. I bought, like, eight online from my phone during that class.
Choosing Your Bottles
It turns out you don’t need eight bottles. Four or five is fine – unless you never do dishes or run your dishwasher + have spare baby dollars, in which case, go wild and get twelve or fourteen. But, as I say, get one or two to start and see how it goes before you commit to that exact bottle. Or go ahead and buy multiples from somewhere with a long return window and take ’em back if the baby rejects the one you liked.
Don’t go overboard buying all the different nipples (or, in Adiri’s case, different bottles) for when Junior gets older and is a faster drinker. You’ll have plenty of time to sort that out once you’ve found a bottle that works. (See my post on nipples stages on Minimalist Mama if you like.)
There are a ton of different bottles out there – some of the big names are Born Free, Dr. Brown’s, Avent, and Evenflo – and you should make your initial choice based on your personal preference and, most likely, which ones your friends, family or advisors recommend. Remember that what works for one baby won’t necessarily work for yours though, so take those recommendations lightly and still buy sparingly.
(Sidebar on the Adiri bottles, speaking of recommendations: I loved that one of us could refill the bottle while Astrid was drinking. Unlike most bottles, the Adiri nipple and bottle are one piece and the base is the part that screws off. So we could just pour another bag of defrosted breast milk into the bottle she was eating and she didn’t have to break stride. Sweet.)
My personal preferences ran in this order:
- Ease of use and cleaning. Adiri won hands down. Another easy option: if you get a Medela breastpump, you can buy nipples that screw onto the top of their breastmilk storage bottles. (Don’t forget to buy a collar too.) Super easy but I only know one baby who went for it.
- Weight. You often have to carry these bottles around, after all. I love my planet, but glass was just too damn heavy for me, so it seemed likely that it’d be too heavy for baby. BPA-free plastic. Done.
- Availability. I wanted to be able to get more easily. The big brands are easy to get on Amazon or even a grocery store. I wasn’t going to choose a boutique bottle that required a seven-day mailing delay if I needed another one right this instant.
- I’d opt for the large size (9.5 ounces) over the infant size (5-ounces) so you won’t have to re-buy bottles once little Harold is drinking more. Yeah, it means big bottles with a little baby, but it’s not for long. So what if my baby looked like something out of Gulliver’s Travels for a month or two? Whatever.
- There’s also a choice between narrow or wide neck, which I honestly didn’t consider at all. I just went for the wide-neck two-pack once we cut over to Born Free (after Astrid randomly rejected her Adiri after six months). The theory is that wide-neck allows the nipple on the bottle to feel more like the breast (because it’s, um, wider) so the transition between breast and bottle should be, theoretically, smoother. As with a lot of advertising claims, who knows if this is what makes the difference to your little one? Whatever floats his boat is fine.
The most minimalist and inexpensive initial solution is to get two, large-sized, easily-available bottles and close the subject until your baby arrives and establishes her needs. If she turns out to be prone to gas – or you want to assume that that will be the case so you don’t have to figure it out later – get the ones with the vents, a dishwasher basket for all the parts or some dishwashing gloves. If you want to start simple, grab a couple Adiris or screw-on nipple caps for your breastmilk bottles and change it up if those don’t suit her.
(I know that some babies just hate bottles and put their mom’s/dad’s through hell trying to find one that will work. But that’s the exception. And if that ends up being your baby, it’ll be fine: you’ll figure it out and you’ll have a kick-ass collection of the most advanced baby bottles to boot! You can set up a museum and charge admission to recoup the costs – it’ll be fun!)
I hope it goes well finding the bottle that works for your baby. Don’t stress too much: with a lot of babies, this can be a very easy process. Having a little freedom to grab a few more hours of sleep, go to the gym or run an errand solo after a month or more of exclusively breastfeeding is worth any trouble you encounter!