Glass vs. Plastic Baby Bottles
Decades ago, the only baby bottle available to parents is made of glass. But glass was heavy and breakable. So when plastic bottles came along that were lighter and shatter-proof, the glass bottle became almost obsolete.
However, recent reports that a type of plastic found in baby bottles might cause potentially harmful changes in developing babies has left parents wondering if perhaps old-fashioned glass wasn't such a bad thing after all.
Which is safer, glass or plastic? Here is some background on baby bottles, along with tips on how to choose -- and use -- bottles safely and effectively.
Baby Bottle Worries
The problem with glass bottles is pretty obvious -- drop one on the floor in the middle of a late-night feeding, and you'll have a roomful of shattered glass to clean up. Glass is also heavy and cumbersome. On the upside, glass bottles are sturdy, and they don't contain any chemicals that could potentially get into the baby's formula.
Plastic baby bottles are lightweight, strong, and unbreakable. In 2012, the FDA banned the use of bisphenol A in the manufacture of baby bottles and sippy cups. There were concerns that the chemical in polycarbonate plastic could lead to certain cancers, changes in the brain and reproductive system, and early puberty. All baby bottles and sippy cups sold in the USA are now BPA-free.
In 2013, the FDA supported a food additive amendment to end the use of bisphenol A-based epoxy resins in the lining of formula cans. Manufacturers had abandoned the use of BPA in those maternal and child products, so the move was largely supportive.
Choosing a Baby Bottle
There are essentially four types of baby bottles: plastic, plastic with disposable liners, plastic with glass liners, and all glass.
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.
Is sippy cup a definite no-no?
If you can manage without a sippy cup, great. My son was exclusively breastfed and transitioned directly to tumbler. No bottles or sippy cups for him.
However, it is quite ok to use sippy cups during the bottle to cup transition period for a month or so. Then the children should be moved to regular tumblers or straw cups.
Also, care should be taken that sippy cups are only used for travel, or when spills are not acceptable. When children are at home, they can use a regular tumbler or cup.
Benefits of straw cups for toddlers
Straw cups can be introduced to a baby from 9 months onwards. In a few months, they will develop the skills to drink from a straw without difficulty. But make sure that your baby doesn’t suck too much liquid too quickly as this can cause her to choke and cough. This can be done by using a thinner straw or a thicker liquid like milkshake.
The muscles used for drinking from a straw are the same muscles that are used to develop a better swallowing pattern and for uttering some speech sounds. This is the reason straw drinking is much better than drinking from a sippy cup.
Though my little champ was already drinking from a tumbler, I thought a spill proof cup would definitely be helpful for travelling. So I bought a straw cup and handed it to my son.
I still remember that weird moment – when I realized that sucking from a straw was not something that my child knew intuitively…. My cutie pie had no interest in his new possession. The cup got tossed to the back of a shelf.
How to use a breast pump:
Like any skill worth having, it might take you a bit of time to get the hang of using a breast pump. The key is to be patient, even if you’re not able to express as much as you’d like right away. After all, a breast pump won’t stimulate the same feelings in you as your baby does. But, withtime, your body will usually learn to trigger your let-down reflex when you pump, and the quantity of milk you express should increase.
1: There’s no need to rush to start pumping…
In the first four weeks, you and your baby work together to initiate and build your milk supply. If your baby is healthy and breastfeeding is going well, you won’t need a pump to help with this. Pumping is, however, really helpful if you need to be apart from your baby any time (see tip below). If not, enjoy this time with your baby and be reassured that even if you plan to pump regularly in future, there’s no need to ‘train’ your body to express milk in the first few weeks.