Baby Bottles: A Guide to Your Choices
Are Plastic Baby Bottles Safe?
Early in 2008, there were news stories questioning the safety of baby bottles containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make hardened plastics. Concerns were raised as to how BPA affects the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children.
Should you be concerned about BPA in plastic baby bottles? According to the FDA, no. Based on available evidence, the current levels of exposure to BPA pose no immediate health risks to infants and babies. However, the National Toxicology Program released a report in 2008 that noted "some concern" about BPA's potential effects on the brain, prostate gland, and on behavior in fetuses, infants, and children.
If you want to buy BPA-free baby bottles, steer clear of bottles with the number 7 or the letters PC (polycarbonate) on the bottom, choose glass baby bottles, or buy plastic bottles with the numbers 1-6 on the bottom. The top six manufacturers of baby bottles in the U.S. have agreed to stop using the chemical in their bottles.
Baby Bottles & Gear: The Dos & Don’ts
- Don’t sterilize glass baby bottles and nipples before every use. Sterilizing bottles was only necessary in the past, when municipal water supplies were not as reliably clean as they are now. Do sterilize new glass baby bottles and new nipples by putting them in boiling water for five minutes Afterward, you can wash bottles in the dishwasher -- which cleans better than hand-washing them -- or wash by hand with hot, soapy water and rinse well.
- Do replace baby bottles and nipples if you find a certain set just doesn’t agree with baby’s needs.
- Do replace a glass baby bottle if it’s cracked or chipped.
- Do replace a plastic baby bottle if it’s cracked, leaks, is discolored, or smells bad.
- Do replace a nipple if it’s discolored or has deteriorated (a damaged nipple can be a choking hazard), or if baby formula comes out too fast. To test the flow, turn the bottle upside down. Only a few drops should come out; if more does, the hole is too big and your baby may be getting more infant formula than he can handle. Nipple packages should state the flow rate on them.
- Don’t buy a baby bottle warmer unless you really want one. Standing a baby bottle in a glass of hot water for a few minutes is easier and less expensive. Just remember not to heat your baby’s bottle directly in the microwave, which can create hot spots in the liquid, because of a microwave’s uneven heating ability.