Guide to bottlefeeding baby

If you're bottlefeeding your baby here's what you need to know about formula and equipment.
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  • Updated:24 Jul 2003

02.Bottle feeding equipment


There’s quite an array of baby feeding bottles on the market. Many brands are available, in glass or plastic, patterned or shaped, of 240 mL or 120 mL capacity. The smaller size is useful for young babies who don’t take large volumes and for giving drinks of water or juice to breastfed babies. Shaped bottles, such as with a hole in the middle, may be suitable for older babies to grasp, but they could make cleaning more difficult.

If bottle feeding is the only method of feeding your baby, you’ll need six to eight bottles. If you’re breastfeeding and intend to express, you’ll at least need two or three; otherwise it might be a good idea to have one on hand (for water, in necessary) to start with.


There’s a choice of material (rubber or silicone), shape and flow rate available.

Rubber vs silicone: Apart from the aesthetics of brownish rubber (latex) versus clear silicone, there are several reasons for choosing the latter. Silicone is more durable and better able to withstand repeated washing, boiling and sterilising. Rubber tends to become sticky and friable after a while.

Some years ago, the presence of nitrosamines in rubber teats caused concern, as they are known to cause cancer in animals. When CHOICE found nitrosamines in its 1986 test of teats, we advised that to be on the safe side silicone teats should be used. Some health authorities now advise that there’s no proof that rubber teats can cause problems.

Shape: You can choose from the traditional bell shape or the ‘orthodontic’ teat which some manufacturers claim resembles the mother’s nipple during breastfeeding. However, these claims are inconclusive, as are claims that they’re better than bell-shaped teats for mouth development. Your baby may show a preference for either type.

Flow rate: Flow rates are usually specified: ‘slow’ for 0–3 months, ‘medium’ for 3–6 months and ‘fast’ for over 6 months. Also available are ‘juice’ or multi-holed ‘trainer’ teats. Inspect all teats frequently (pull on the bulb portion to test their strenth) and discard worn or faulty ones immediately.

Bottle brush

You need a wire-handled nylon bristle brush to clean the bottles before sterilizing; those with a teat brush on the other end are useful. Wash bottles and teats in hot soapy water to remove all traces of milk or formula, as any left could provide a breeding ground for bacteria. You should also squirt the water through the hole in the teat.

Measuring jug/spoon/knife

You’ll need these if you’re using formula so you can measure the right amount. This is extremely important: with too much formula you may overload the baby’s delicate digestive system and kidneys and supply too many calories; too little and the baby may not get enough nutrition.


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