Although some mommies want to breastfeed exclusively, it isn’t always possible. When this is the case, using a baby bottle becomes a large part of your feeding routine.
Whether time does not permit you to always breastfeed your baby or you need to supplement with infant formula, baby bottles are bound to be one of your baby’s favorite items in the first few months of their life, so you want to make sure that they have the right bottle. Beyond choosing the best milk bottle for your baby, you may also want to have the right quantity of bottles to keep up with your baby’s feeding.
As a new parent, you may be asking yourself, “How many bottles do I need to have to feed my baby?” The answer varies based on your baby’s feeding habits and your lifestyle. Keep reading to learn about different types of baby bottles, how many bottles your baby needs, and what other baby bottle accessories make feeding your baby easier.
What Type of Bottles Do I Need?
There are so many bottles out there to choose from, it may seem overwhelming. However, once you determine your criteria for the perfect bottle for feeding your baby, the process of choosing a bottle becomes a lot easier.
Baby bottles come in two basic sizes: 4-ounce and 8-ounce (some are 5-ounce or 9-ounce). You should have 4-ounce bottles for your newborn. After about 4 months, switch to the bigger 8-ounce bottles.
Baby bottles are available in various types of materials. The two main types of baby bottle materials are glass and plastic.
Glass baby bottles: The glass bottle has increased in popularity due to worry about the chemicals contained in plastic. A glass bottle generally lasts longer, as they don’t stain or soften from differing water temperatures. However, a glass baby bottle is more expensive and heavier, so your baby may struggle to hold them at first. They’re also, clearly, more fragile and more prone to chipping and shattering if dropped.
Plastic baby bottles: Plastic bottles are the most popular type of baby bottles for formula and breastmilk. They are more affordable, and more brands carry plastic bottles. They’re also lightweight and won’t easily break if dropped. Unfortunately, plastic bottles don’t last as long. They’re prone to warping and staining, so you may have to replace them more often. Furthermore, there’s been widespread fear of the effects of BPA and other harmful chemicals that can be found in hard plastics. However, it’s important to note that the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles in 2012, so plastic baby bottles are not as harmful as they once were.
Other types of baby bottles include silicone bottles and those with disposable materials and stainless steel. Silicone and stainless steel are pricier options, while disposable bottles are the least eco-friendly choice for a baby’s bottle.
There are also multiple types of baby bottle shapes.
Standard feeding bottle: These are traditional bottles that work well for most babies. They’re ideal for feeding your baby in a lying-down position.
Angle-neck feeding bottle: Designed to feed your baby while in a semi-upright position. The angle prevents air from filling the nipple, which may reduce your baby’s gas.
Wide-neck feeding bottle: These bottles are short and have a wide opening at the top, which means a wider nipple as well. The wider nipple replicates the mother’s nipple, making this type of milk bottle great for babies who are both breastfed and bottle fed. The wider neck also makes these bottles easier to clean, whether infant formula or breast milk.
Other Bottle Accessories
There are some baby bottle milk accessories that you can add to your feeding gear that will help make feeding your baby a breeze. Some of these accessories include:
- Nipples: Baby bottles usually come with nipples, but they can be bought separately as well. Nipples come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they even have different flow speeds. Different types of nipples include:
- Traditional bottle nipple: Bell-shaped and usually latex nipple. This is the standard nipple included in most baby bottles.
- Orthodontic bottle nipple: Narrow in the middle but wider at the tip and base to fit the nipple better in your baby’s mouth.
- Flat-topped bottle nipple: Bigger base bulb and flatter top gives this nipple a similar shape as the breast.
There are also two types of nipple material:
- Latex: More traditional, but needs to be replaced more often. Latex is a common allergy, so monitor your baby to make sure they aren’t allergic to the material.
- Silicone: Firm and more durable. May have a smoother feel to them. They generally last longer than latex nipples.
Nipples also come with different flow options. It’s best to start your newborn with nipples that allow a slow flow, and if you find that they aren’t getting enough milk, to then upgrade to medium, and then fast-flow nipples.
You may want to keep nipples of multiple varieties or to buy a couple to test out on your baby to see which one they respond to the best. Nipples can easily go missing, so it’s a good idea to have some extras on hand – perhaps 5-10.
- Burp cloths: These absorbent cloths are useful for keeping milk spit-up off your clothes as you burp your baby over your shoulder. They’re also useful in wiping up all types of messes.
- Nursing pillow: Nursing pillows will help prop up your baby at the right angle as you feed them, minimizing the amount of air they swallow with their milk, which could cause gas. If you don’t want a nursing pillow, an extra bed pillow will do the trick.
How Many Baby Bottles Do I Need?
The answer to the question of “how many bottles do I need” is difficult to determine. The answer depends on how frequently you plan on feeding your baby using bottles. Do you plan to mainly breastfeed your baby and only use the occasional bottle? Or do you plan to bottle-feed exclusively?
Newborn babies feed 8-12 times a day. If it’s a breastfed baby, you’ll probably only need 3-4 bottles of breast milk to supplement breastfeeding sessions. If you’re exclusively bottle feeding, you’ll want to double that number – at least 6-8 bottles to get you through the day. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding and your baby is responding well, you may only need to buy one bottle as a “just-in-case.”
If you’re using plastic bottles for feeding, note that they should be replaced every 3 months or so, so you may end up needing more than if you were to use another material. Glass, silicone, and steel only need to be replaced if they become damaged.
There’s also the question of how many baby bottles you need for an outing with your baby. This depends on the length of your outing and how often your baby requires feeding. You’ll want to keep the bottles of infant formula or breast milk in an insulated bottle carrier that will keep them cold for at least three hours. Most bags have space for at least three baby bottles, but you may end up needing more if you’re out for longer.
If you’re a new parent, you may have no clue how much your baby will eat, whether you’ll be able to breastfeed them, and consequently, how many baby bottles you’ll need for feeding. Six to eight bottles may be the recommendation, but there isn’t necessarily a magic number. Your baby’s habits will ultimately help you decide the number of baby bottles that’s right for you.