The Right Bottle and Teat
Choosing a Teat
There are countless different varieties and brands of teats on the shelves, which can make deciding which one to choose rather confusing. Most babies will drink happily from any type of teat, but sometimes babies show a preference for a particular kind of teat, so if your baby seems to reject a certain type of teat, try a different one.
Silicone or Latex Teats
You can buy teats that are made out of silicone or latex. Latex teats are softer and more flexible than silicone, and tend to need to be replaced sooner than silicone teats, which are more durable. Teats also come in different sizes; for newborn babies up to 6 months, and teats designed for babies over 6 months. Make sure you get the teat suited to your baby's age as the holes are bigger for older babies, which allows them to take more milk.
Use The Right Teat Shape For Your Baby
Teats come in either standard shape or a more natural shape, which means they are wider and designed to feel more like a nipple in your baby's mouth. Although all teats are designed to mimic the nipple, orthodontic teats aim to replicate the breast more than standard teats, and claim to facilitate combined bottle and breast feeding. If you are breastfeeding alongside bottle feeding, you may want to buy teats which aim at mimicking the breast as closely as possible. Special teats are available for premature babies, these are smaller than standard teats as premature babies have smaller mouths.
Anti-colic teats have valves that are designed to reduce the amount of air your baby swallows during feeds. If you suspect your baby is suffering from colic, try an anti-colic teat. Some parents find that anti-colic teats make a big difference to their baby's colic, but be aware that anti-colic teats don't reduce colic for every baby. Your baby will still swallow some air during feeds no matter what teat you use.
Get The Right Sized Hole For Your Baby
If your baby doesn't seem to be getting full during feeds, or gets distressed during feeds, one possible cause is that their teat doesn't have the right sized hole for them. Your baby should be relaxed during bottle feeds, but if the milk comes out too slowly for them, they will get frustrated and may tire of sucking, which leaves them still hungry after feeds. If the milk comes out too quickly, they will splutter and make choking noises. Milk leaking from your baby's mouth is another sign that his teat is letting milk out too quickly, and if your baby has to gulp his milk down too quickly it can cause tummy problems.
You can buy teats that have either a slow, medium or fast flow. Newborns should be started off on a slow flow teat, and then move on to a medium flow teat when they are older and you are confident they can handle a faster flowing teat. If you think your baby is getting frustrated by sucking hard and not getting enough milk, you could try moving onto a fast flow teat. Different brands vary quite a lot in teat size so keep trying until you find one that your baby is happy with.
Change your baby's teats every 3 months, or as soon as they show signs of wear and tear. Check your baby's teats every time you use them for discoloration, thinning, swelling, stickiness, cracks, tears or holes. Be especially diligent about checking your baby's teats when they get teeth, as baby's milk teeth can be very sharp and babies are prone to chewing on teats when they're teething.
What Types of Bottle Are Available?
Like teats, bottles come in different shapes and sizes and your baby may prefer one type of bottle over another. You'll need to use a bottle which matches your choice of teat, as not all bottles and teats are compatible. Bottles comes in wide neck and standard neck size, so choose the one which fits your teat.
The most common and widely available type of bottle is the bottle which is made out of plastic. You can also buy bottles made out of glass, and disposable bottles. Glass bottles last longer than plastic bottles and can be washed at higher temperatures, but are heavier and will smash if dropped, which poses a risk of cuts to parents and their baby. Disposable bottles are designed for single use, and are handy for when you are out and about. They work out a more expensive way of feeding your baby, but some parents find that their baby's colic improves as they are designed not to let any air into the bottle, which reduces the amount of air babies swallow when feeding.
Some plastic feeding bottles are made out of BPA, which can leak the chemical bisphenol A. There have been concerns raised about the potential harmful effects of babies being exposed to bisphenol A through their milk, so look out for bottles that state they are BPA-free on the packaging. Most of the leading bottle making brands have stopped using BPA to make their bottles and feeding cups, so you should be able to find BPA-free bottles in any good chemist or supermarket.
As well as anti-colic teats, you can buy anti-colic bottles, which aim at reducing the amount of air your baby takes in. Some experts believe anti-colic bottles make more of a difference to babies' colic than anti-colic teats. Angled bottles also help stop your baby taking in excess air, so if your baby suffers from wind and colic, you may notice an improvement by using an anti-colic bottle.
Look out for bottles which have the measurements in colourful markings up the side of the bottle. Some bottles have the measurements written in colourless plastic, which is very difficult to read and makes it hard to get the correct amount of milk into the bottle and also to work out how much milk your baby has eaten.