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Types of baby bottles

Here are the major types of baby bottles to consider. Many allow you to use nipples with varying flow rates, so you can change the nipple as your baby grows but not the bottle. In some cases you can also use nipples from one brand on a bottle from a different manufacturer.

Standard Bottles

There are two basic sizes of this classic shape with straight or slightly curved sides: 4 or 5 ounces for infants and 8 or 9 ounces for older babies, in glass or plastic, including non-polycarbonate plastic. Some brands are available in 7-ounce or 11-ounce sizes as well.

Pros: These bottles are easy to fill and hold, can be used repeatedly, and allow you to accurately gauge formula amounts. They can also be simple to clean. Most breast pumps and baby-bottle warmers are designed to be used with standard bottles, although you can easily transfer pumped breast milk from a standard bottle to a disposable.

Cons: Some bottles have a valve on the bottom and vents in the nipple that manufacturers claim minimize air intake during feeding. But in our previous research, we have found no independent evidence that such designs actually minimize gas in a baby's tummy.

Angle-Neck Bottles

These bottles are bent at the neck, making them easier for you to hold in a comfortable position.

Pros: Their shape causes formula or breast milk to collect at the bottle's nipple end, so your baby is less likely to swallow air, according to manufacturers. The shape may work well for feeding your baby while she lies semi-upright, a position that may help prevent fluid from collecting in her ear canals, which can lead to ear infections. One type has a vent at the removable bottom of the bottle that is designed to keep air out of the liquid so your baby will drink virtually bubble-free.

Cons: Angle-neck bottles can be awkward to fill. You must hold them sideways or use a special funnel to pour in liquid.

Wide Bottles

Some baby bottles have a wide neck, and they're slightly shorter and broader than standard bottles. Some brands offer them in plastic or in both plastic and glass. At least one type we found can be used with a variety of nipples.

Pros: Manufacturers claim that wide-neck bottles and wide nipples feel more breast-like to babies and are a good choice for "combo moms," those who switch back and forth from breast-feeding to bottle-feeding. Wide bottles are available in 4-, 5-, 8-, and 9-ounce sizes and come in glass and in plastic made without BPA, in angled or straight sides, and with or without bottom venting. Wide nipples are available in slow, medium, fast flow, and Y-cut (a nipple with a cross-cut opening.)

Cons: You might pay more for a wide plastic bottle compared with a standard plastic bottle, both made without BPA. And even with a wider feel, there's no guarantee that your baby will take to this style of bottle and nipple. But it's worth a try, especially for "combo moms."

Bottles with Disposable Liners

With these bottles, a disposable plastic pouch, or liner, fits inside a rigid outer holder, called a nurser. The top edge of the liner fits over the nurser's rim. You pour in formula or breast milk and hold the liner in place by fastening the lid (a nipple and bottle ring). The liner collapses as your baby drinks, reducing the tendency for air bubbles to form. Some brands that make nurser systems claim their liners are BPA-free. Liners are available in different sizes, such as 4-ounce and 8-ounce.

Pros: Collapsible liners are designed to prevent air from collecting as your baby sucks. Cleanup is easy: You just remove the liner, wash the nipple, and you're done.

Cons: You'll need to buy liners continually, which adds to the cost.

Natural-Flow Bottles

Natural-flow bottles have a two-piece straw-like vent system in the center of the bottle, designed to eliminate the vacuum that can form when a baby sucks, so there are no air bubbles, reducing the possibility of colic and gas. There are plastic and glass baby bottles with this feature.

Pros: The design may just work.

Cons: Compared with other bubble-reducing bottles, such as angle-neck models, these have an extra piece or two to wash, and the straws can be hard to clean. You'll need a tiny brush, which comes with the bottles. Replacement brushes are available where baby bottles are sold. Some are available in BPA-free plastic and glass.

Premium Bottles

These eye-catching bottles are often characterized by their unique design.

Pros: The nipple and bottle come as a unit, so there are fewer pieces to clean and keep track of.

Cons: The different-sized bottles and nipples can come in various flow rates such as newborn, slow, medium, and fast flow. You change bottles to change the flow, so at a higher price per bottle, stocking up will cost you a bundle, although you might be able to find them for less if you shop around.

Glass Bottles

Manufacturers are offering lots of choices in glass bottles. Some people prefer glass, especially if they are concerned about BPA or because they think glass is easier on the environment than plastic when recycled. Some manufacturers offers bottles in glass or plastic. Some manufacturers offer a sleeve, which helps contain the glass if it shatters.

Stainless Steel Bottles

Some manufacturers make stainless-steel baby bottles, but they can be pricey.