Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding your baby, it’s essential to have at least a few bottles on hand. And when it comes to brands, Dr. Browns is my hands-down favourite.
What sets them apart?
What sets Dr. Brown’s bottles apart from others is the Internal Vent System, which is meant to act almost like a vacuum in the bottle, helping to make feeding time more comfortably for baby, resulting in less gas.
The system is, then, a bit more complex than just a bottle, nipple, and ring. It consists of all of the above, plus a tube that sits within the bottle and fits into an insert at the top. These work to reduce air bubble oxidation of the milk, which Dr. Brown’s says helps preserve vitamins and lipids. The company also says the venting can help prevent colic, spit-up, burping, and gas.
Types of bottles & cleaning accessories
There are both glass and plastic bottles. I used the glass ones at home as they were easier to wash (just pop them on the top rack of a dishwasher) and the plastic for trips outside of the home. This alleviates any worry that a child who can hold the bottle himself doesn’t toss it, or that it won’t crash to the floor and break in the middle of a busy shopping mall!
It’s worth noting that the plastic ones are dishwasher-safe as well, but I preferred to hand clean those using a bottle brush. To clean the other parts, you can also use the dedicated dishwasher basket which can hold three complete sets of bottle parts.
The 4-ounce sized bottles are great for young babies, then upgrade to the 8-ounce ones as baby gets older and requires more per feed.
There are also both standard and wide-neck bottles, the latter of which might be easier for tiny hands to grip themselves. They’re also not as tall, which might work better for some diaper bag designs.
Bottles are available in 2, 3, and even 5-packs, depending on the model. I found that having at least three to rotate among for daily feeds, a few for travel, and a few for storage, satisfied my needs.
Another essential accessory is the tiny cleaning brush, which let you get right into the crevices of the vent insert and reservoirs, which can hold milk residue if your dishwasher doesn’t quite clean as effectively as you’d like, or the bottle brush doesn’t quite do the trick.
There are replacement nipples, both to swap ones out over time, as well as to move up a level in size. Naturally, as baby gets older and more comfortable with the drinking process, he’ll be able to accept more liquid at once, and the slower flow won’t be sufficient anymore. The high-grade silicone nipples can be purchased in two-packs.
You can also get replacement kits that include the reservoir, insert, and caps. I’d often lose the caps, which came in handy when I wanted to use the bottles to store pumped breast milk in the refrigerator; or bring along an extra bottle when my son was having a sleepover at grandma’s. Clearly I’m not the only one, as Dr. Brown’s also sells replacement caps on their own, in two- and three-packs. The vent inserts are also available on their own if you need to replace a lost one, as are the r
Other bottle accessories
Any mom who formula feeds knows that the best way to buy formula is in massive containers. Which means bringing along enough for a full day, or weekend away, isn’t always convenient.
I used the Formula Caddy, which can hold enough to prepare three 8-ounce bottles. The convenient spout makes it easy to pour what you need right into the bottle for mixing, and the formula is kept fresh and sealed with a spout cover. It’s designed to look just like a coffee travel mug, which means it will easily fit into a stroller’s drink cup holder, or the bottle section of your diaper bag.
There’s also an electric steam bottle sterilizer, (though admittedly I just used to boiling in a pot of water trick to sterilize my bottles when at home); a bottle warmer if you’d prefer not to use a microwave or wait until the milk heats up running under hot water; bottle sleeves in cute blue or pink that are designed to provide a better grip on the glass bottles; and a drying rack for drying out all of the necessary bottle accessories. The latter is perfect if you prefer to hand wash everything as I did. I found that having a dedicated spot to dry the bottles and accessories helped keep things organized, and the rack allows all of the water to properly dry out from within the bottles, nipples, and reservoirs.
Heading out for a stroll with baby is never a quick and easy venture – take it from someone who spent her first year with a newborn living in the heart of downtown Toronto and going for daily walks. You need to not only make sure you bring along your essentials (wallet, keys, purse, smartphone, etc.) but also everything baby will need. The Dr. Brown’s Insulated Tote Bag is a neat way to combine everything you absolutely can’t live without for a day trip to the mall) in one bag. (OK, minus the emergency diapers, of course.) The inside is insulated so you can keep the milk supply warm, and the bag comes with a freezable gel pack for keeping bottles cool. Or, once baby starts on solids, you could store small supplies of pureed fruits and veggies in there. But there are also extra pockets to house your smartphone, credit cards and cash, and keys. The shoulder strap is adjustable so you can sling it over your arm, or drape it over the stroller handle.
Beyond the bottle
Many may not know that Dr. Brown’s actually makes more than just baby bottles and accessories.
For example, there are teethers, like this cute giraffe-shaped one that will give baby some oral relief when he’s not drinking his milk. It has a textured surface that can help ease aching gums as the teeth come in, and firm edges to massage them at the same time. You can clean it in the dishwasher, and even safely place it in the freezer to give baby some much-appreciated cold relief.
Or, if baby is more of a fruit lover than animal, check out the watermelon-shaped teether, which comes in red and green to keep baby mesmerized at the bright colours. It’s designed with the same soothing features. And it’ll certainly lead to tons of uber-cute photo ops as baby knaws away on his first “fruit.”
Check out all of the options from Dr. Brown’s at Best Buy online.