Before our baby was born, we shopped and got a set of bottles and teats, and I thought that’s all we’ll ever need! One day while washing the dishes, something struct me! We throw away plastic drinking bottles after a few uses, but how about our baby’s bottle? Should it be thrown away and replaced? My wife laughed: “No, but the teats need to be replaced” she said. I did some research, and my wife was right!
So when should you replace the bottles & teats? You should immediately replace the bottles if they are not BPA free as they are often linked to health issues. BPA free baby bottles can last for a few years and do not need frequent replacement. The teats should be replaced after using it for 2-3 months and bottle liners replaced after every use.
Typically, that’s when you should be replacing the bottles and teats, but there are other situations where you will want to make the replacement either earlier or later, let’s find out.
When To Replace Baby Bottles?
We will be covering plastic baby bottles here, glass bottles don’t need replacement if it’s not damaged or discolored. I understand that some people suggest changing the bottles every 4-6 months, but they couldn’t tell me why, and I couldn’t find any convincing answers.
Why would I want to buy good bottles which are expensive if they will only last 4-6 months? Yes, if the bottles contain BPA, I can understand the need to change it every 3 months, I would even recommend you to change it immediately.
The FDA has made it official in 2012 [source] that BPA can’t be used in baby bottles and cups, so if you’re from the US, you’re likely using BPA free bottles already. This may not be true to the rest of the world, so check to be sure. BPA free bottles have the symbol of #1, #2, #4 and #5. They typically have the BPA FREE label as well.
But BPA free bottles? No need! That said, there are exceptions. You should replace bottles that are cracked, chipped, smells bad, or shows any sign that it can injure your baby. If the bottle becomes discolored, it is another sign to replace it.
If you find it difficult to bottle feed your baby, it may be that your baby does not like that particular bottle. Yes, it happens, some babies can be picky about which bottles they use. I was either very lucky in picking the right bottle the first time, or my boy wasn’t picky.
Some of my friend’s baby was picky, and some even want a change every few weeks. If your baby refuses bottle feed, try replacing the current bottle with another one. Do finish reading the teats section before proceeding to change because sometimes its the teats that are making them fussy, not the bottle.
When To Replacing Bottle Teats?
Bottle teats (or nipples) should be replaced after every 2-3 months of use. The main reason is because of the flow. Many companies make teats of different sizes to best suit the age of the baby. Newborn teats tend to have a very slow flow because the baby cannot take in larger gulps.
If you give a higher flow teat to a newborn, it may make him gag and hate the bottle because more milk is flowing out than he can swallow. If you use a slow flow teat for older babies, the flow is so slow they may end up using a lot of energy to suck and take a long time to finish their milk.
There’s no hard and fast rule here, different companies have different sizes for different ages, it can be confusing if you try to follow every brand’s recommendation, so just treat it as a guide. The table below shows the offerings by Tommee Tippee and Philips Avent, and you can replace the teats following their guidelines.
|Symbol||Tommee Tippee||Philips Avent|
|#0||Extra Slow Flow: Premature babies.||Natural First Flow Teat: From day one and when switching from breastfeeding to bottle-feed, has extra-soft silicone teat and slowest flow.|
|#1||Slow Flow: 0 months and above.||The Newborn Teat: 0 months and above, ideal for newborn and all ages.|
|#2||Med Flow: 3 months ++||The Slow Flow Teat: 1 month ++ that are breastfed and bottle-fed, has extra-soft silicone teat.|
|#3||Fast Flow: 6 months ++||The Medium Flow Teat: 3 months ++, has extra-soft silicone teat.|
|#4||-||The Fast Flow Teat: 6 months ++, has bite resistance silicone teat.|
|#5||-||The Grown-Up Flow Teat: 9 months ++, has bite resistance silicone teat.|
|X||Vari Flow: 0 months and above. The stronger the baby sucks, the wider the cross opens. Flow is controlled by the baby.||-|
|I, II, III||-||The Variable Flow Teat: 3 months ++, the flow rate can be adjusted by setting I, II or III|
|Y||-||The Thick Feed Teat: 6 months ++, sturdier teat with Y shaped slot for thicker feeds to flow.|
The above is just a guideline. Every baby is unique and feeds differently, the age range is also just an estimation, and you may find the teats of other age range more suitable for your baby. For starters, follow the recommendation, but if you notice that your baby is having difficulties feeding, change the teats, maybe even change the brand until you find something that is suitable.
Here are some additional guidelines to help you identify the right time to change the teats. If your baby is taking a longer time than usual to finish, sucks harder, gets agitated or irritated, or even falls asleep while feeding, it likely means that the flow is too slow, and it’s time to get a faster flow.
Some people cut the teats to make the flow faster, but I don’t recommend doing this. You may leave sharp edges or worse, unintentionally making the flow too fast and cause your baby to gag.
If you notice your baby gulping or swallowing hard, coughs and gags while feeding, or have milk dripping from the lips, the flow is likely too fast, change to a slower flowing teat.
Premature babies most likely need the slowest flowing teat, Dr. Brown’s Preemie Teats is one. I can’t seem to find Extra Slow Flow Teats from Tommee Tippee being sold separately, but they are sold together in Amazon with the bottle called Nature First Feed Bottle, and the teats are labeled #0. The answer from Philips Avent is the Natural First Flow Teat.
Can I use old bottles for my new baby? Yes, if the bottles are still in good condition. If it is already discolored or has damages, you should buy a new one for your new baby. Make sure the bottles are BPA free, if it’s not, buy a new one for your new baby. The bottles are probably kept for a long time by now, so sterilize it before the first use.
Is it OK to reuse baby bottle nipples? It’s not OK. Bottle nipples (or teats) degrade over time, becoming thinner, discolored, or causing milk to pour out in a stream. Milk should drip out steadily, not as a stream, as it can cause your baby to gag. You’ll also need slow flow teats for newborns.
By now, your slow flow teats are most probably at least a year old and may no longer flow properly, and as you’ve read above, your baby can feed easier if you have the correct flow for her. The worse that can happen is the nipple breaking off and become a choking hazard.
Is It Safe To Use Plastic Baby bottles? Yes, if it’s BPA free. The concern that most parents have about plastic bottles is chemicals seeping into the baby’s milk. Research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages [source], and exposure can cause problems in the health of your baby. Insist on BPA free bottles and apply everything you’ve learned in this article, and you should be fine.
If you’re wondering about how often you should sterilize your baby bottles, I’ve written an article on it here, it should have all the information you’re looking for.