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How many bottles do I need?
The number of bottles and nipples you'll need depends on whether you'll be mostly bottle-feeding or mostly breastfeeding. If you're mostly bottle-feeding, you'll probably want eight to ten bottles, and if you're mostly breastfeeding, three or four should be enough.
Start with 4- or 5-ounce bottles. They're perfect for the small amounts of breast milk or formula newborns eat in one sitting. Shift to 8- or 9-ounce bottles at about 4 months, or whenever your baby's growing appetite makes bigger bottles more practical. (You can also start out with larger bottles, and just fill them halfway when your baby is very little. But it can be nice to have the smaller sizes.)
Bottles come with coordinating nipples, usually the slow-flow kind for newborns and infants. You'll need to buy replacements when nipples wear out, or as your baby gets older and needs a faster flow of breast milk or formula.
Here are some things to consider when deciding how many bottles to purchase.
- Cleaning and sanitizing: If you're able to clean bottles immediately after feedings, you won't need as many.
- Preparing ahead: If you'll be preparing bottles ahead of time and storing them in the fridge, you'll need to have a few extras.
- Daily routines: Will your baby be at a daycare or babysitter's house? If you need bottles to give to a caregiver, you’ll need to buy more.
- Cost: Traditional glass and plastic bottles range from about $4 to more than $10 apiece. Stainless-steel and silicone baby bottles range from $13 to $30. Silicone and latex nipples range from $1 to $7 each (but are usually sold in packages of 2 or 3). Starter sets and gift sets, which include several bottles and nipples, as well as accessories like cleaning brushes and sterilizers, run from $30 to $110.
Some babies will take any bottle with a smile. Some take to a particular type of nipple or bottle and outright refuse a different brand. And some babies have less colic, gas, and spit-up with certain bottles. (Many bottles are designed to prevent these feeding problems by venting air more effectively.)
You may also find that your baby doesn't have a preference, but you probably will if, say, a particular brand of bottles and nipples leaks or has too many little parts to clean.
To start, buy or register for a small selection of bottles and nipples – either a few different bottle and nipple combinations or 2 different brands of newborn starter sets. Ask friends which brands they recommend, and check reviews online.
To make it easier to transition a breastfed baby to a bottle, manufacturers have designed various types of bottles and nipples to mimic the feel of nursing. Again, you may have to try a few to find one that works for your baby.