We scoured the internet, interviewed moms, polled moms through our website, and read thousands of reviews. We also pulled in our own bottle feeding experiences, and in the end we came up with several awesome options. These include some classic go-to options like the Dr. Brown's, and some relative newcomers like the Comotomo and Tommee Tippee.
Before we get into the reviews, we want to stress that baby bottles are not a one-size-fits-all-babies solution. Every baby latches and suckles a bit differently, and every baby is more or less prone to gas and colic. The secret is to try at least a few options to figure out what works best with your baby. Of course, that can get expensive and time consuming, but it's likely well worth it for your baby's comfort (and your sanity!).
One great new option on the market that we hightly recommend is the Baby Bottle and Nipple Starter Variety Pack by First Foods. This awesome starter pack includes five bottles, 4 of which are top-rated on our list: Dr. Brown's, Comotomo, Tommee Tippee, and Avent. It also includes multiple nipple shapes and flows for each of the bottles (16 nipples in total!). The great part about this starter pack is that rather than buying multiple bottles separately and spending well over $100-150, you can grab this starter pack for about $89. Try them out and figure out what's best for you and your baby, and give the rest to a friend! A great new concept and addition to the baby bottle market.
Here are our top-rated baby bottles for 2016!
1. Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottle - Glass or BPA-free Plastic. About $20 for a 3-pack. These are fantastic bottles. Dr. Brown's has been making the original anti-colic, anti-gas, anti-fuss bottles since 1996. They use a unique vent system designed by Dr. Brown himself, a pediatrician who designed and patented a two-piece venting system that prevents the negative pressure "vacuum" that typically forms in bottles while a baby feeds. Like actual breasts, these create a positive-pressure flow. These are great for moms who switch between breast- and bottle-feeding, or moms who only bottle feed; they are particularly excellent for relieving the symptoms of colic and gas. There are the original glass versions and a newer (and shatter-proof) BPA-free plastic version. The glass ones are heavier and feel like a classic bottle with real substance, and they come in 4 ounce and 8 ounce varieties (the 8 ounce is harder to find). The plastic ones are lighter weight and don't have that same classic feel. Only downfall of these bottles is that the vent system can be a bit of a pain to clean; but we promise, it's worth it! Note that Dr. Brown's seems to be slowly phasing out their "Natural Flow" bottles in favor of the Options line of bottles. The Options bottles allow you to use the bottle with or without the venting system; in our experience, they are not quite up to par with the original Natural Flow bottles, but you can check them out here and decide for yourself!
2. Born Free Premium Glass Bottle. About $6-7 per 9-ounce bottle. The Born Free bottles are relatively new to the baby bottle market (like the Comotomos below), but they are making quite a splash. Like most fuss-free bottles, these use a unique ActiveFlow venting system that reduces gas and colic. These are glass but come with cute silicone sleeves that you can slide over the bottle. The thick glass is very difficult to crack or break, and the silicone basically makes it impossible. We tested this from four heights, all onto a hardwood floor: from a bouncy chair, swing, high chair, and table-top. No sign of stress placed on the thick glass bottle, even without the silicone sleeve. We didn't risk testing it on a tile floor, but do believe that with the silicone sleeve they would be completely fine. Like basically all modern bottles, the silicone nipple shape feels natural and does a nice job controlling flow. If you get a gift set, it also includes some handy accessories: bottle brushes, silicone sleeves, level-3 (fast) nipples, and often a cool little formula holder and dispenser. One unique feature of these bottles is that they hold a bit more milk than the typical 4 and 8 ounce bottles, leaving a bit of room at the top when you mix in formula, which makes the mixing process much easier and more effective. Excellent bottles, and a good price when you buy with the accessories.
3. Munchkin Latch Bottles. About $20 for a 2-pack. These latch bottles are relatively new to the baby bottle market, and they are taking the market by storm. And for great reason. The unique anti-colic valve is located on the bottom of the bottle, which reduces the complexity of the washing process relative to the Dr. Brown's option. As the baby consumes more milk, the valve slowly allows air to enter the bottle, decreasing the negative pressure and reducing air ingestion. Less air being ingested means less burping and colic. Now let's talk about the "latch" aspect of this bottle. Latching onto a natural nipple is something that comes innately to most babies, and there is a symbiotic relationship between the baby's mouth position, their sucking rhythm, the nipple, and the milk release. Latching is when the baby sucks the nipple back to their soft palate. As any breastfeeding mom knows, a good latch means a good let-down and a very satisfied baby (and mom!). Munchkin was inspired by the latch process and created a nipple that mimics the feel, movement, and let-down of a mom's breast. The nipple stretches as the baby sucks, to allow the nipple to maintain a good latch. It also has dynamic milk flow: when the baby pushes more against the nipple, the flow increases (just like mom's). Finally, the accordian-style nipple also flexes with head and arm movement, helping the baby keep a latch and minimize air ingestion. New to our list in 2015, the Munchkin Latch may continue rising to the top, only time will tell!
4. Tommee Tippee Anti Collic Bottle. About $20 for a 3-pack (you can get them in 5oz or 9oz sizes). These are a close runner-up to the Dr. Brown's and Born Free bottles. These are wider and shorter bottles that have a unique nipple design with a wide base and natural shape that mimics that natural feel, flex, and movement of the actual breast. This is a fantastic option especially for moms who want the flexibility of switching between breast- and bottle-feeding. Because the nipple and its surround are so realistic, the baby does not become accustomed to a different nipple style and subsequently reject breastfeeding. Of course, this type of rejection is rare, but for very particular babies this is a great option. Like the Dr. Brown's, this bottle uses a venting system designed to prevent vacuum build-up and prevent gas and colic. Does it work as well as the Dr. Brown's version? The jury is out, but the ratings suggest that this definitely a close second. But the vent is equally annoying to clean.
5. The Kiinde Breastmilk Collection, Storage, and Feeding System. It's not really fair of us to put a system like this in a list of baby bottles, but we had the opportunity to try it recently so we figured you all would like to read a bit about it. The concept is that you can use pouches similar in size and function to a juice pouch, to connect directly to your breast pump, use for freezer storage, and then use for feeding. The idea is that instead of using the typical Medela or Lanisoh bags for pumping and freezer storage only, you can also use them for feeding. It makes this possibly by incorporating a screw top onto the pouch instead of the usual Ziplock closure. The screw top can be directly attached to your manual or electronic breast pump. Then after pumping, you put a cap on the screw top and throw it in the refrigerator or freezer. When you're read to feed your baby, you can thaw a pouch in a bowl of lukewarm water (or using the Kiinde bottle warmer system). Then, slide the pouch into the Kiinde Squeeze bottle, squeeze out the air, and attach a nipple. The first time we tried the process we were impressed by how easily the pouch transitioned from one mode to another, like from pumping to storage, and storage to feeding. Kiinde also makes a nifty (though limited capacity) storage rack for your freezer to prevent random piles of pouches from stacking up and falling over. In any event, we have to applaud Kiinde for coming up with such a comprehensive system that handles the entire process from pumping to feeding. But the question we ended up asking ourselves was whether it was really a problem that needed solving? After pumping, you still need to clean the pump parts and the pump-to-bag adapter threads. Why not a small bottle while you're at it? So maybe that saves a little bit of clean-up time, but not much. Also, during our testing we thought it was challenging to tell exactly how much milk was getting into the bags. We pumped until the milk got to the 4 ounce mark, and then poured it into a Medela bottle and it was only about 2.5 ounces; turns out the milk wasn't heavy enough to really puff the bag out and get an accurate volume measure. But we do realize that's no different than any other breastfeeding pouch on the market. So we considered that maybe we were in the same position as before: pumping into a glass or plastic bottle to get an accurate measure, and then pouring into a bag for storage. How about the other feature, the fact that you can feed directly from the pouch, using an attachable nipple? This part we really liked. The nipple is good quality with a nice wide base, and the bottle does a nice job preventing gas and reflux due to the pouch not containing any air (the baby acts like a vacuum to suck out the milk, squeezing the pouch empty as they go). You can also squeeze the bottle a bit to simulate let-down. So maybe it's worth it after all? The pouches are about the same cost as the conventional (Medela and Lanisoh) pouches, but with the nifty cap. And if you puff out the bag a bit before pumping it will give you a more accurate volume indication. Overall, we think this concept is awesome, though the execution has some challenges. We say give it a try, but don't expect miracles. You can get a starter system with the pouches, adapters, nipples/squeeze bottles, and freezer rack for about $30 online. If you want the bottle warmer as well (note that it only fits Kiinde bottles), you can get the gift set for about $70 online. So certainly this system will set you back a bit relative to just purchasing some bottles and pouches for storage, but we think it might be worthwhile if your baby really takes a liking to the nipples, as it will certainly save you some time and energy.
6. Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle. About $12 each (you can get them in 5oz or 8oz sizes). These are somewhat new to the baby bottle scene, and are quickly rising in the ranks of discerning moms. Designed a bit like the Tommee Tippee with a wider nipple base and a more natural nipple feel, these are made for moms who want to switch flexibly between breast- and bottle-feeding. Moms love the unique soft and squeezable silicone feel of the bottle, as do babies, who can comfortably grip the bottle while feeding - it feels a bit like mom's soft skin. The width of the nipple base, and its pliability, make it very natural - moms report that babies are able to make cheek, tip of nose, and chin contact with the wide nipple base, promoting a nice vacuum seal much like a real breast. The vent design is quite unique and not as much of a hassle to clean like the Dr. Brown's or Tommee Tippee. The squeezable bottle is nice for adding a bit of pressure to the feed to mimic let-down. Overall, this bottle is a great option, and with time it may surpass the higher bottles on our list. Drawbacks? Just a few, mostly related to the translucent bottle, which moms report can make it hard to see the number labels on the side, or see inside to check how much milk is remaining. Note that this bottle is somewhat similar to the MimiJumi bottles, but moms think those look a bit too real (in an awkward kind of way!), have too extreme of a feeding angle, the venting isn't quite as good, and some leaking issues have been reported.
7. Philips AVENT Natural Glass or Plastic Bottles. Just under $10 per bottle (you can get them in 4oz or 8oz sizes). Philips AVENT bottles have been around for a long time now, but they are an innovative company that keeps improving their bottles to accomodate changing needs of moms and emerging research. Here is a great option, with soft and breast-shaped nipples to promote comfortable latch-on and twin valve venting system to prevent swallowing air, gas, and colic. A nice wide nipple base promotes a real breast feel, and the wide neck promotes easier cleaning. There are both glass and plastic versions, all BPA-free and free of other harmful chemicals (like all of the ones on this list). Like the Tommee Tippee and Comotomo, the AVENT bottle has a nice ergonomic shape that helps babies learn how to grip and hold onto their own bottle. The venting system is quite nice, as it has no extra parts to clean, and moms report it working pretty well (though nothing is quite like the Dr. Brown's). Downfalls? With the glass version, moms would like to have a silicone sleeve for better grip and safety (like some of the newer Dr. Brown's options), and they also say that it's a bit too heavy.