How We Tested Baby Bottles

By:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday


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7 month old boy has no trouble holding his Lifefactory bottle with the grippy silicone sleeve.
7 month old boy has no trouble holding his Lifefactory bottle with the grippy silicone sleeve.
When it comes to baby bottles, there are some common concerns that can make or break your baby's feeding experience or the caregivers experience. We focused our testing on the main issues that bottles can present, giving each a score of one to ten based on our findings. Using the bottles alongside one another really gave us a clear perspective on their individual performance, including their strengths and weakness in each metric. The following gives some insight into the methods and testing metrics we used.

Leakage


Leak test in progress.  After 20 minutes  some caps were filled with milk!
Leak test in progress. After 20 minutes, some caps were filled with milk!
Leakage is big when it comes to baby bottles. We disagree with the old adage of "not crying over spilled milk" as there's nothing more frustrating than wasting precious breast milk or formula due to a bottle malfunction. Our bottles had a lot of use during daily activities, and we paid close attention for signs of a wet diaper bag or leaking while prepping. We also did some "manual" testing by shaking, tipping, swirling, tapping and leaving a full bottle on its side for up to 20 minutes to see what would happen.

Leaks during feeding time are also a HUGE hassle. Our bottles were rated by noting where is it leaking from? Do the extra parts make it susceptible to leaks? Is it hard to get the lid screwed on just right? With a fussy baby in hand, we wanted to know how easy it was to get a leak-free assembly in a hurry and some scored better than others in this area. We also wanted to know which might leak too much during feeding causing frustration for baby.

Nipple Performance


Testing subtle differences in nipples in our "Pinch Test".  We rated them hard  firm  medium  soft and very soft.
Testing subtle differences in nipples in our "Pinch Test". We rated them hard, firm, medium, soft and very soft.
A bottle is only as good as its nipple when it comes to a comfortable latch that is leak free and void of nipple distortion. Our best gauge on this was of course, the babies themselves! We watched how baby was drinking to get a sense of the "flow". Were they struggling to get milk out (too slow!) or struggling to swallow fast enough (too fast!)? We considered how much each nipple leaked while feeding and whether or not the nipple worked as advertised. The eco-health of the nipple material was also noted, and based on our research, we prefer silicone!

We also employed a side-by-side "Pinch Test" to rate the "feel" of the nipple, with ranges from hard, firm, medium, soft and even very soft in comparison. Nipples were ranked lower if they became deformed, inverted or collapsed during use, or if they caused any frustration for the baby that impeded proper feeding.

Ease of Cleaning


The mouth of the Tommee Tippee is large enough to clean with a towel or sponge; no bottle brush needed.
The mouth of the Tommee Tippee is large enough to clean with a towel or sponge; no bottle brush needed.
We wanted to know how much time (or frustration!) it would take to wash and assemble each bottle on a regular basis. We definitely got a feel for this since the average baby eats 7 or 8 times a day. That adds up to a lot of bottle washing! We looked at how easy it was to keep track of all the parts during washing as some contain tiny valves that could easily disappear in a sink full of soapy water. Extra pieces also meant more time scrubbing little holes, spaces, and even straws, and more time washing and rinsing those special parts, not to mention, putting them all back together again! We also noted whether or not they were dishwasher safe; however, we recommend hand-washing plastic baby bottles as indicated in our article Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?. Scores were impacted by the number of parts and whether or not the parts required specialized tools to clean them well.

Ease-of-Use


Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Glass needs all components assembled for proper use.
Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Glass needs all components assembled for proper use.
This rating considers how easy it is to use the bottle on a day-to-day basis, not including cleaning, which has its own score. We used (and sometimes abused!) these bottles in real-life situations. They were boiled, filled, dropped, packed, stored and more, and some were easier to manage than others. The additional parts came into consideration once again, as did the filling, warming, noting how the travel cap fit, and even how it felt in our hand and baby's. Bottles lost points for being difficult to assemble and the ability to assemble it incorrectly. Bottles earned points for easy assembly and easy to grip.

Eco-Health


The 5oz Pura Kiki is a 100% plastic-free feeding system for your infant that converts easily into a sippy with the change of just a spout.
Lifefactory bottle with the sleeve removed. You can remove or leave the sleeve on for cleaning.
 
With the ever-present concern of the chemicals in plastic being ingested and affecting baby's health and development, we considered bottle and nipple material to be a very important factor when rating our bottles. All the bottles we tested were BPA free, but was that really good enough? Some scientists feel that BPA-free does not mean the plastic is safe for babies.

We decided to look a little closer, delving into what risks plastics may pose, and what research is available to answer that question. Please read our article Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups? for a complete overview of our findings. In the end, we gave higher scores to products that used glass or silicone, which are believed to be safer materials.

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A seven-month-old boy loves his Lifefactory bottle that includes a grippy silicone sleeve for easy handling and few parts for easy assembly.
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