It’s easy for parents to become confused about what bottles and teats to use when feeding their baby. Not to mention sifting through advertiser’s claims that their feeding equipment is superior to others on the market. Essentially, all bottles and teats work in much the same way – the bottle holds the milk and the teat transfers the milk into the baby’s mouth. Currently, most bottles are made from food safe plastic and teats from silicone.
When a baby is hungry and used to feeding from a bottle, they’ll generally accept any bottle or teat. Most of the time it’s hunger which motivates a baby to suck and feed, not the way it’s delivered. Teat designs with ribs, in-built valves, and softer/more flexible designs are not necessarily better than the simplest ‘cone’ shape teats. Bottles and teats which are said to mimic the shape of the breast and nipple aren’t necessarily more enticing for a baby to suck on.
Be patient and consistent if you’re keen to introduce your breastfed baby to a bottle. Breastfeeding and bottle feeding require different sucking actions and it can take time for babies to coordinate their suck/swallow patterns.
It can be helpful to choose teats according to a baby’s age. Teats for younger babies tend to have smaller and fewer holes, teats for older babies have larger holes. Some babies have preferences for specific teats. You may want to try a couple of different types of teats to see which design your baby prefers.
Young babies don’t have the stomach capacity to drink large volumes of milk at any one time. That’s one of the reasons why they need to feed on small amounts frequently. As they mature, they can manage to drink and digest larger amounts.
Most small bottles on the market hold around 120 mls, larger bottles 240 mls. Once a baby is a couple of months old, they need the larger volume bottles.
Written for Milton by Jane Barry, Midwife and Child Health Nurse, August 2022.