With all the different shapes, sizes and materials, how do you know which bottle or teat is best? The truth is there is no ‘best’ type. Different bottles and different teats suit different babies and needs, invariably no matter how much research you do; your baby will be the one who ultimately decides what bottle is used.

What equipment do you need to bottle feed? The check list:

Standard bottles
  • Widely available
  • Fit a range of standard teats
  • Least expensive
  • The narrow neck can make filling more difficult
Wide-necked bottles
  • Easier to clean
  • Easier to fill due to the wider neck
  • The shorter and fatter shape takes up more space making them tricky to store in baby bags and sterilisers
  • Usually only fits silicone teats rather than latex
Anti-colic bottles
  • Designed to reduce the amount of air swallowed during a feed. This is due to the presence of air vents, tubes or collapsible bags
  • Might be worth trying if your baby is unsettled after a feed
  • More expensive than standard bottles
  • Harder to clean
  • May not benefit your baby
Unusually shaped bottles
  • The different shapes make it easier for little ones to hold the bottle, encouraging them to drink by themselves
  • More difficult to clean
  • May be an awkward shape to fit in baby bags and sterilisers
Heat-sensitive bottles
  • Built-in temperature sensor which changes colour if the milk is too hot. This can be useful if you are worried about the temperature of the milk
  • More expensive than standard bottles
Self-sterilising bottles
  • No other sterilising equipment is needed, you only need a microwave
  • More expensive than standard bottles
Disposable bottles
  • The disposable, sterilised bags that line the bottle are thrown away after each feed
  • Convenient when travelling or out and about
  • More expensive and wasteful if used every day

Teats come in two shapes

  • Standard
  • Natural, which resembles the shape of a nipple

Teats come in two different materials; silicone and latex.

There is no great functional difference, but babies usually prefer one to the other. Latex is softer and more flexible, whereas silicone teats tend to be more durable and therefore need replacing less often.

Flow rate

Teats have different flow rates; fast, medium and slow. This determines how much and how quickly milk goes into your baby’s mouth.

The correct flow rate is not necessarily decided by age, however it is recommended to start with a slow flow for newborn babies to make sure they can handle the rate of flow. You can then increase the flow until your baby is at a comfortable rate.

Let your baby decide the pace. Spluttering or choking is a sign the flow is too fast, so you should try a slower rate. Getting frustrated and sucking hard is a sign they might be ready to move onto a faster rate.

Replacing teats

Teats need to be checked for damage and replaced regularly, particularly if your baby is teething. Damaged teats present a health hazard to your baby so always check them before a feed.

All baby bottles and equipment must be sterilised before every use to kill any harmful bacteria. This is particularly important for young babies whose immune systems are still developing. As well as sterilising before use, you should always make sure to clean the bottle and teat as soon as possible after every feed in hot, soapy water using a bottle and teat brush to get to the hard to reach places.

There are three ways to sterilise your baby’s bottles and equipment so to make it easier for you to decide the most appropriate method for you, we’ve put together the key differences, the pros and the cons, of each.


Submerge everything in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes. After ten minutes turn off the heat but leave the bottles and equipment in the water until you’re ready to use them. They will stay sterile for about three hours.

Key features:

  • Inexpensive
  • Convenient, no additional equipment is needed
  • The bottles may go cloudy with limescale. Although harmless, it is unattractive.
  • Teats will deteriorate quicker
Cold water sterilising solution

Soak the bottles, teats and equipment in a sterilising solution following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Key features:

  • Convenient when traveling as the solution is easy to pack and carry around
  • Not as expensive as alternative methods
  • More time consuming – takes about 30 minutes to sterilise
  • May leave a strange taste or smell on the bottles and teats
Steam sterilising

Using either a microwave steriliser or an electric steriliser, you can sterilise multiple bottles at a time in less than 10 minutes. Instructions vary with each model so be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Key features:

  • Quick and convenient
  • Certain models can be expensive
  • Inconvenient when travelling or away from home

Related Pages

Date of preparation: September 2016

Date of preparation: May 2016

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