By guest reviewer Naomi Shapiro
I never set out to be a lactivist, but my daughter Roo managed to nurse past her second birthday and never took a single bottle. She’ll be four next month and she’s only had two fevers in her life, which I attribute to her fervent nursing.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to plan your life around your new baby’s breastfeeding schedule when you have a busy toddler to ferry around, so as my son Jasper entered his fourth month, I was determined that he would learn to drink from a bottle. I actually had a huge stash of unused Avent bottles saved up from Roo’s baby shower but with all the controversy over Bisphenol-A, I definitely didn’t want to use them with Jasper. Thankfully, ZRecs gave us the opportunity to try BPA-free bottles by Adiri, Born Free, Green to Grow, Silikids and thinkbaby.
Overall, these bottles are all very good quality. I was surprised at how well they performed alongside each other and impressed with the commitment the companies have made to keeping our children safer. I would recommend any of them to parents looking for healthier ways to bottle-feed their babies, and parents should keep in mind that preferences can vary from child to child.
That said, each bottle has its own strengths, and I hope that with this review you can make a better guess at which bottle your child might prefer. I would also recommend introducing bottles earlier than four or five months. At this point, I think Jasper is almost ready for the sippy cups offered by Born Free and thinkbaby. Hopefully some of the other companies mentioned here will be coming out with BPA-free cups for older babies and toddlers, too.
Each bottle was tested over a period of about two months and evaluated based on the same criteria as ZRecs' original Sippy Cup Showdown, whose reviews have been incorporated into the Z Report on BPA. The reviews here will also be entered in the report's company directory as well.
Adiri Natural Nurser
Materials: Polypropylene and P-Flex (a modified thermoplastic elastomer).
Components: Breast-shaped bottle with a twist-on base and full-length cover, color-coded to distinguish stages (all-white for newborns, blue for 3-6 months, orange for 6 months and up). The anti-colic device is a “petal vent” in the base that allows air to pass through freely.
Price: About $13
Dishwasher safe? Top rack only.
Observations: Gorgeous, flat-out. Sleek, all-in-one design combines nipple and bottle and fills from the bottom, which takes some getting used to. I had some leak issues initially. My husband loves the way the protective cap (more of a sheath, if you must know) stays on via friction with the TPE instead of screw threads. When the cap is removed for feeding, it drips pretty freely, so this wouldn’t be a bottle you give a child to hold themselves. Breast shape and pliability of material make it very useful for transitioning a breastfed baby to bottles or for occasional bottle feeding. Plastic display packaging seems extraneous, although it does show off the beauty of the bottle.
Ratings: Ease of Use and Care: 9. Durability: 6. Eye Appeal: 10. Total points: 25/30. Buy now
Born Free Plastic Bottle
Materials: Polyamide plastic and silicone, made in Israel with materials tested in accordance with ISO 9001, the international gold standard for quality control at manufacturing facilities.
Components: Bottle, two-part inner valve, collar and nipple at one of five flow rates.
Price: $9-$10 apiece
Dishwasher safe? Top rack, secure small parts.
Observations: Probably the most tank-like of the bottles we tested, Born Free bottles eschew cutesiness in favor of functionality and durability, and look about as techie as a baby bottle can get. The design features lightly amber-colored plastic with a company logo in shades of blue and a secure white plastic collar. A two-part inner valve and air vent is supposed to help eliminate colic symptoms like gas and spitting up and reduce the rate of middle ear infections. It is also highly effective at preventing leaks, which would make this bottle particularly handy for formula mixing. Born Free bottles can be outfitted with the widest variety of flow-rate nipples in its class, and the same bottles can have the nipple swapped out for an O-ring with handles and one of two sippy spouts, increasing the lifespan of this Brick House of a bottle.
Jasper's Take: The nipples are incredibly pliant and Jasper loved to gum them and rub them on his face. The bottle itself was hard for him to hold.
Ratings: Ease of Use and Care: 8. Durability: 9. Eye Appeal: 7. Total points: 24/30. Buy now
Components: Bottle, collar, and nipple at one of three flow rates. Cute logos and color-coding for standard- and wide-neck bottles.
Price: $7.50-$10.50 apiece
Dishwasher safe? Top rack.
Observations: With these slightly amber-colored bottles’ cute cartoon fruit faces, matching snapsuits and cloth totes for greener grocery shopping, Green to Grow's aesthetics have style to spare. This simplicity extends to their design; compact and lightweight, Green to Grow bottles lack a vent or valve, and their standard-neck bottles can even take Evenflo glass bottles nipples. The company takes a cradle-to-cradle approach to environmental issues, with 100% recycled packaging, soy inks, and 1% of annual profits going to environmental causes, and the company has founded an innovative program to connect parents with used bottles to organizations that will accept them and pass them on to mothers in need.
Jasper's Take: Fun to hold. He prefers the wide neck to narrow neck and the 5 oz over the 10 oz. Stubby, like him.
Ratings: Ease of Use and Care: 9. Durability: 7. Eye Appeal: 10. Total points: 26/30. Buy now (direct only)
Components: 4 or 8-oz. Glass Evenflo bottle, O-ring, and nipple with silicone sheath in aqua, pink, gray or white.
Price: $10-$12 apiece
Dishwasher safe? Yes
Observations: Silikids' entry into the BPA-free bottle market is a thin, flexible sleeve that encases an Evenflo glass bottle. I was apprehensive about glass bottles but their heft is really nice and they are obviously very solid. The Siliskin definitely aids in grippiness and is designed to prevent chipping in falls, and we dropped ours from high-chair and counter height onto marble floor tiles with nary a scratch. The glass also retains heat and cold very well and is almost infinitely reusable by buying replacement nipples, so is fantastic for future kids. The narrow neck makes it a bit harder to clean by hand than some of the other bottles we tried, and I had issues with getting the collar tight enough to avoid leaking. Looks great with Silikids’ other products (Silibib and Silipads kneepads for crawlers), although I’m not sure why they don’t offer the same colors in all of them.
Jasper's Take: Jasper likes to rub the smooth surface and feel the glass through the cut-outs. The smaller size is easier for him to hold.
Ratings: Ease of Use and Care: 7. Durability: 10. Eye Appeal: 8. Total points: 25/30. Buy now (direct only)
Price: $17 for two
Dishwasher safe? Top rack.
Observations: Indented sides make it easy and fun for babies to feed themselves, and bottles are lightweight and leak-resistant, although they will leak liquid if held upside down.
Jasper's Take: Fun to hold, fun to throw. He likes the 5 oz. best.
Ratings: Ease of Use and Care: 9. Durability: 9. Eye Appeal: 8. Total points: 26/30. Buy now
Learn more about the companies mentioned in this review from the Z Report on BPA:
If you have specific questions about any of the bottle brands, post them in the comments of their directory listing linked above, where other users of that company's products or company reps themselves are most likely to see them.