Best Baby Bottles 2017 - Dr Brown's, Comotomo, AVENT, etc.
We pulled together 13 of the most popular baby bottles and put them to the test. Filled them, shook them upside-down, dishwashed them, warmed them, fed 4 different babies with them, and tried out the various nipple flows. Then we scoured the internet for reviews, did informal focus groups with over a dozen moms, polled moms through our website, and pulled together our reviews. In the end, we found several awesome options that are high performing, low colic, and reliable. And of course all of these are BPA-free bottles. 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 solution. Every baby latches and suckles a bit differently, every baby is comfortable with a different nipple length, width, and flow, 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 approach can get expensive and time consuming, but it's likely well worth it for your baby's comfort (and your sanity!). Also, if you're switching between breast feeding and bottle feeding, you will likely find success with the nipples that are more like natural breasts, like you'll find with the Comotomo and Tommee Tippee (see below). The more the nipple feels like mom's, the easier your baby will transition between bottle and breast. If you're exclusively bottle feeding, then you wont need to worry about this as much, and something like the Dr. Brown's, AVENT, or Born Free options might be perfect for you. We review all of these below.
Here are the best baby bottles for 2017!
1. Dr. Brown's Original Bottles - Glass or BPA-free Plastic. About $4-5 per bottle. These are excellent 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. The original glass version of this bottle has been around for about two decades, but the company has slowly phased out the glass in favor of BPA-free plastic. This has resulted in lower cost, though we must say that we prefer the original glass version, which is much harder to find and sellers are increasing the price due to the limited availability (click here to check availability). If you can't find the glass ones for about $10 each, then don't bother (you're getting ripped off). The newer BPA-free plastic version is lighter weight and shatter-proof, definite advantages over the traditional glass version. Only downfall of the any of the Dr. Brown's bottles is that the vent system can be a bit of a pain to clean; but we promise, it's worth it! In our testing, we found superior colic and gas prevention, great fit and function of the traditional-style nipples, and minimal leaking unless vigorously shaking to mix formula. Note that Dr. Brown's also sells the similar 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. Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottles. A little pricier than most other options on this list at around $14 per bottle, the Comotomo bottle is relatively new to the U.S. baby bottle market and is making a huge splash among discerning moms. Designed with a very wide (about 3") nipple base, a more natural nipple shape and 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 - in our testing, we found 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. Instead of a long tube to clean, the bottle uses two small vents positioned at the base of the nipple. The squeezable bottle is nice for adding a bit of pressure to the feed to mimic let-down. During feeding, we noticed that the entire wide base of the nipple elongated and retracted very smoothly, much like a natural breast. In a more practical sense, the wide base made it easier to clean, and we also liked the small tab on the side of the wide green base, which made it much easier to grip and open or tighten the bottle. Overall, this baby bottle is a fantastic option, and over the past 2 years it has slowly climbed into this #2 spot. With time it may even surpass the Dr. Brown's. 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. We didn't think this was a major issue, but did agree that it made it a bit more difficult to see how much milk was remaining, especially during nighttime feedings. And we thought the venting was great, but not quite as good as the Dr. Brown's. Note that this bottle is somewhat similar to the MimiJumi bottles, but those didn't make it onto this year's list due to a feeding angle that's a bit too extreme, the venting isn't quite as good, and some leaking and inconsistent flow issues have been reported.
3. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottles. About $6 per bottle, which come in 5oz or 9oz sizes. These are a close runner-up to Comotomo, and you will realize that they are actually quite similar in shape, venting, and nipple. They have a wide body with nice curvature for grip (your grip, and baby's grip!). The nipple itself is not quite as wide and convex as the Comotomo, through it is basically somewhere in between Munchkin Latch (or AVENT) and the Comotomo in terms of nipple shape and size. In our test, we found that these nipples do replicate a natural elongation and retraction movement, though not quite as pronounced and natural looking as the Comotomo. Given their wider and shorter stance, these bottles were particularly easy to clean. The venting on the nipple is very similar to the Comotomo, except there is only a single vent. The single vent typically worked very well, but we noticed that it's more likely to be covered by the cheek, lips, or chin, which means it won't be venting very well. That's a distinct advantage to the Comotomo, as is the more natural form and function nipple. The Tommee Tippee is a great second option for moms who want the flexibility of switching between breast- and bottle-feeding. Because the nipple and its surround are relatively 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 another great option.
4. Philips AVENT Natural Baby Bottles. About $4-5 per bottle (you can get them in 4oz or 9oz 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. The Natural series of AVENT bottles is no exception, and is a great all-around baby bottle option. The base and nipple are quite similar in form and function to the Tommee Tippee, but with slightly narrower nipple base, and narrower overall screw base as well. We found that the nipples were soft and compliant, promoted comfortable and fast latch-on, and the twin-valve venting system was quite good at preventing air swallowing, gas, and colic. The twin valves are unique to the others on this list, with tiny slits at the very far edges of the nipple that help air get into the bottle to prevent a vacuum forming. The reasonably wide nipple base promotes a relatively real breast feel, and the wide neck promotes easier cleaning, though it's not quite as easy as with the Comotomo or Tommee Tippee. There are both glass and plastic versions, all BPA-free and free of other harmful chemicals (like all of the ones on this list). We prefer the glass, though we do understand that it's a bit heavier and makes moms nervous about breakage. 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 we found that it works pretty well (though nothing is quite like the Dr. Brown's). Downfalls? Over the past few years, the AVENT bottles have used progressively thinner plastic that feels increasingly cheap, though the functionality hasn't seemed to change. We also didn't think the venting system was as good as the Comotomo, and maybe not quite as good as the Tommee Tippee. And with the glass version, it seems prudent to have a silicone sleeve for better grip and safety.
5. Munchkin Latch Bottles. About $6 per bottle. These latch bottles are relatively new to the baby bottle market, and they have some great innovative features. 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. In our testing, we thought the valve did a great job at reducing gas and colic. But we also thought that the design made it more difficult to clean, and we were never really confident that we got the valve entirely clean during washing. Also, in our testing the nipple became pushed in a few times, which was a bit frustrating to have to pull/pop back out intermittently. This didn't happen with all the babies, though it did happen with two of them so it's worth mentioning. Now let's talk about why they named this the "Latch" 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. This isn't an entirely innovative concept, and in our opinion we believe the Comotomo does it a bit better. 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. First introduced onto our list in 2015, the Munchkin Latch is slowly rising up the list!
6. Playtex Ventaire BPA-free Bottles. About $4 per 9-ounce bottle. Playtex has been making excellent and innovative baby bottles for several decades, and the Ventaire is no exception. This model uses an angled bottle shape that makes it much easier to comfortably hold and tilt the bottle during feedings. This helps your arm from getting sore, but also puts baby in a relatively upright and natural position for feeding, without having to tilt their head way back. There is some mixed evidence that a relatively upright feeding position also helps reduce the odds of ear infections. Like the Munchkin, it uses an air flow valve at the bottom to help air enter the bottle and prevent a vacuum from forming as baby drinks the milk or formula. In our testing, we thought the valve did a very good job of keeping the flow rate nice and consistent, and also preventing too much air swallowing, burping, and spit-up. The nipple is nowhere near as wide and natural feeling as the Tommee Tippee or Comotomo, but our test babies did latch on easily and nobody rejected it, and we saw no signs of nipple confusion after using it several times. It uses a similar nipple texture as the Dr. Brown's to promote an easy latch. Cleaning was easy, with dishwasher safe (top-rack) parts that are all removable (the bottom valve, nipple, lid, can all be cleaned separately). The pack we got came with slow-flow nipples suitable for little babies (0-3m), though you can purchase medium and fast flow nipples separately. So there are a lot of great things about this bottle, and we think it's worth including on this list. However, there is one major downfall that we encountered: the venting mechanism on the base of the bottle tended to leak. We tested out the three bottles that came in the pack, and after leaving filled bottles on the counter (or in fridge) for a couple hours, there was a puddle formed under two of them. So overall this is a great bottle, but the odds are you might have a leaking problem like we did.
7. Born Free BPA-Free Bottles. About $5 per 9-ounce bottle. The Born Free bottles are relatively new to the baby bottle market (like the Comotomos), but they are making quite a splash. Like most fuss-free bottles, these use a unique ActiveFlow venting system that reduces gas and colic. In our testing, the ActiveFlow venting did indeed work very well, though we did find it a bit aggravating to have yet another small plastic piece to clean, assemble, and probably misplace! Like basically all modern bottles, the silicone nipple shape feels relatively 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. Overall, we consider these bottles great for formula-fed babies, given that the nipple and base are not super natural feeling (like the Comotomo or even Tomee Tippee). Overall great bottles and good enough to make it onto our annual list. Also reasonably priced if you purchase with the accessories. Note that we also tested out the newer model, the Born Free Breeze, but it didn't make the list due to a poor (and collapsing) nipple design.
8. 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.