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Glass vs. Plastic Baby Bottles

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Choosing a Baby Bottle continued...

The ban on BPA means you can confidently buy new plastic baby bottles, knowing that they are free of the potentially harmful chemical. If you are using older plastic bottles, for example bottles given to you by family members, check the recycling symbol on the bottom. The symbol #7 or the label PC (which stands for polycarbonate) is a sign that the bottle likely contains BPA. Bottles with the symbol #1, #2, or #4 are made of polyethylene, and #5 bottles are made of polypropylene. Both kinds of bottle can be used safely since neither type contains BPA.

Disposable bottle liners are also typically BPA-free (look for the words "BPA-free" on the label). They tend to be more expensive than bottles alone, though, because you have to change them after each feeding.

If you want to try glass bottles but you're concerned about them breaking, some companies make silicone sleeves that go over the bottle to protect it.

Caring for Your Child's Baby Bottle

Here are some tips on caring for your child's baby bottle and reducing potential risks from BPA:

  • Never store breast milk or formula in plastic bottles. Pour it into the bottle just before your baby is ready to eat. Throw out anything that is left over.
  • Heat and wear can both increase the rate at which BPA leaches out of the plastic. Heat polycarbonate bottles in warm water (not boiling), rather than in the microwave. Microwaves should also be avoided because of the risk of burning baby's mouth. Throw out any polycarbonate bottles that are scratched or cracked.
  • Don't use hot water or a harsh cleaner on polycarbonate bottles because this also can cause the plastic to break down more quickly. Instead, use a gentle cleaner and warm water.
  • Replace any glass bottles that have cracks or chips in them.

Keep in mind that bisphenol A is also found in the linings of formula cans and can get into the product, although most manufacturers have abandoned its use and the FDA has proposed a ban on its use in formula cans. You might want to opt for powdered formulas, which typically contain lower levels of BPA than liquid formulas.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on July 10, 2013
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