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Bottles, Bottles and More Bottles

Ann E. Butenas


In preparation for the arrival of my first child, I could not decide if I would breast-feed, bottle-feed, or provide a combination of both methods. During my pregnancy, I indulged myself in books on both subjects, took classes in these matters, and even purchased several varieties of baby bottles, just in case I eventually chose that method.

Well, I ended up breastfeeding my son (and my other two sons, as well), and, for the most part, those bottles were left unattended in my kitchen cabinet. They were used just a few times when my husband and I went on a short trip during my first son's infancy, who was in the care of his grandmother during our absence. Other than that, however, none of my boys ever used a bottle. Thus, taking on the task of writing about baby bottles and related accessories proved to be a challenge.and quite interesting, too!

I interviewed a few moms who gave bottles to their children, and I actually learned quite a bit about the subject! Lori P., mom to five kids, including two sets of twins, supplemented breast-feeding with bottle-feeding. She used bottles made by Gerber, Evenflo, and Johnson & Johnson. "I liked the Johnson & Johnson (brand) because they were angled, and I could hold them better. As the children grew, they could hold them as well."

Lori noted that Gerber's line of little bottles, like the four-ounce ones, were somewhat problematic. "I just could not find the right kind. They either dripped too fast or too slowly, and sometimes they leaked.." She did note, however, that due to the smaller size of these bottles, they were more adaptable for toting and traveling purposes.

Lori admitted she should have invested in a bottle warmer. "That would have saved many trips up and down the stairs at two in the morning!"

As for cleaning her baby bottles, Lori mainly used the dishwasher, utilizing one of those little baskets to ensure the smaller parts, such as nipples and rings, did not fall through. For the bottles that were messier, she used a bottle brush to clean out the inside.

Another mom, Ellen, had her son use a bottle for about two years. When asked how many bottles she generally kept on hand, she laughed, "About a million! Well, it seemed like a million, especially at cleaning time, but it was usually between 14 and 18 bottles at any given time."

Ellen had a baby nurse initially after her son was born, and the nurse was insistent that Ellen use the Avent brand, claiming they had the easiest system to use. Ten days later, once the nurse left, Ellen tried other brands, such as Playtex and Gerber, but soon found herself using the Avent brand. "They are the best," noted Ellen. "Once I began to understand the system, I was hooked!" (The system uses different bottle sizes and nipple holes that eventually allow the child to easily transition to a cup.)

As for bottle-feeding accessories, Ellen kept a small nipple brush on hand, plus a large one for the bottles themselves. "I also used a pair of spaghetti tongs to pick the bottles and nipples out of the sterilizing pot, and I used a plastic basket for washing the smaller parts in the dishwasher."

Another mom indicated that the type of bottle she used generally depended upon the baby. However, she did prefer the bottles with the small holes in the bottom and the crooked necks, which seemed to cause less air build up in the baby's belly. The Playtex nursers, according to this mom, seemed to be the best for that.

Cleaning and sanitizing baby bottles can be a hefty task, but it needs to be done. "I used only Ivory dish soap," explained Ellen. "I handwashed them all after I sterilized them in a large stockpot. Eventually, I began to wash them in the dishwasher after my son was about one year old. My baby nurse instilled in me a terrible fear of germs as the catalyst for diarrhea (although my son never got it!). I had to check with the bottle manufacturer to make sure that my model of dishwasher got hot enough to sterilize."

Another concern among those who use baby bottles is the implentation of the microwave oven to warm them up. Is it safe? Will it harm the bottle or the oven? Ellen was terrified to use the microwave for this at first, but learned that as long as the nipple and ring are removed prior to putting the bottle in the microwave, it can safely be done. "You have to learn exactly the right amount of seconds to warm it up (through trial and error) and be sure to test the bottle first before giving it to the baby. Also, be sure to replace the nipple, ring, and cap, and then gently turn the bottle over and back four to five times to mix it completely. You have to make sure the temperature is uniform throughout the bottle. You don't want any hidden hot spots inside anywhere."

Another mom, Carol, however, disagrees with the notion of using the microwave to warm up the bottle. "Coffee cups have been known to explode in there," she noted. "Plus, things can just get too hot in there." Again, it is best to check with the manufacturer of the bottle, as well as with the manufacture of the microwave, to make an assessment of whether or not to use the microwave as a means of warming up baby bottles. (Please note that the APA does not recommend the use of the microwave for this purpose. Many moms noted, however, that they did use the microwave but made sure to THOROUGHLY test the liquid in the bottle before giving it to their children. We advise that you speak with your pediatrician first to find out the best means to warm up those baby bottles.)

Now that you might have a general idea on the subject of baby bottles, how do you know when it is time to get rid of them? Notes Carol, "You know a child is old enough to get rid of the bottle when they can toss it across the room like a football! Or when they crawl across the carpet holding the bottle by the nipple, tossing their heads from side to side and swinging it like an elephant's trunk while laughing hysterically! About that time, you know the bottle's a habit, not a necessity."

One other mom decided it was time to throw away one of her baby's bottles because she found the dog sucking on it one day! Oops!

Now all you need to ask yourself, once your child has graduated from the bottle is, "How many sippy cups do I need?"

Related Articles

Bottle Feeding - Formula, Bottles & Accessories


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