Bottle Warfare

You knew a baby-related post was bound to sneak in here. But since I do more food-prep with bottles these days than I do with my Kitchen Aid, I thought you might give me a free pass and consdier this entry at least partially in the baking category.

Long story short: For the first three months of Baby E’s life, she was not enthused about taking the bottle. Daddy C and some stalwart friends could get her to take the Dr. Brown’s every once in a while, but she would mostly just chew on the nipple and dribble the rest of the bottle out on her onsie. And as a result, Mama Me was freaked–freaked that I’d go back to work and my wee-one would starve and scream herself to death because I’d failed to introduce her to the bottle early  enough in my selfish desire to nurse and cuddle her.

So, like I’ve done with piping tips and fondant and baking pans, I proceeded to purchase just about every model on the shelf. A particular draw? Anything that sported the assurance:  “best of breastfed babies.” Picture me going through the store and sweeping an entire shelf of  “desperate mother” bottles into the cart and you’d have it about right.  Below you see the collection I amassed.

(Left to right) Adiri Level 3 and 2, Breastflow, Dr. Brown's (two variations), Avent and Playtex Drop-In

(Left to right) Adiri Level 3 and 2, Breastflow, Dr. Brown's (two variations), Avent and Playtex Drop-In

Before you get too concerned, fast-forward to the day after Baby E turned 3 months old. She batted me away and literally reached out to Daddy C for the bottle. Fiendish child. Though she still nurses, she’s taken bottles like a champ ever since.  But I thought others might benefit (and save a little money) from a run-down of my panicked purchases.  So here goes:

Adiri Natural Nurser — The most boob-looking of all the variations. It takes some jeers from baby Web sites for being gimmicky and, yes, I totally bought into the premise that the more it looked like a boob, the more likely it was to fool my baby. But though I don’t think she’s actually fooled, this is one of only two bottles types Baby E will take at the moment. Up until the Adiri, she was drooling her milk out when she wasn’t screaming at the intrusion. But from the first moment we put the Adiri to her lips, we had success. It’s essentially a torpedo with a hard back end (you fill it on this end), a semi hard middle for gripping it and a soft top third that the baby can press against her little cheeks with milky glee. Each bottle is a different level. We’re currently on Level 2 – Blue.

Breastflow — Next to Dr. Brown’s this one had the most going for it on the technical front. The nipple is actually a two-layered affair and it falls into the “so weird it must work” category. The outer layer is a soft squishy silicone that, again, the baby can smoosh against her face. But this has an inner layer that is a harder, silcone, tube-like device. The intent is to mimic the whole nipple experience for the baby. When the baby latches on, bearing down on the harder silicone inside makes the milk flow up and fill the space between the inner and outer nipple. So I suppose the baby gets the sensation of sucking on a full breast. I have no idea if it really entices babies. Baby E tried it for about a week and never did more than bite on the nipple and then scream at me for teasing her.

Dr. Brown’s — These bottle have a cult following! When I was registering for baby gear, every mother I knew practically grabbed my hands and pleaded with me to get Dr. Brown’s. From what I gather, they are lifesavers in the colic department. Baby E never experienced colic anywhere near the degree to which it plagues other babies. Which is a good thing because Dr. Brown’s were little more than a chew toy for her. I even tried the large-mouthed,  “more natural” nipple. No dice. Looking back at her first bottle experiences with the Doc, I realize that what we thought was her “taking a bottle” was really her “wearing a bottle.” We’ll see if she comes back around to the good Doctor when she’s a little older, but until then I’m happy not to have to clean that fancy venting system. Keeping track of those tiny brushes was pain.

Avent — A no-nonsense mom I know lent me the Avent when I was freaking out about Baby E’s bottle refusal, which is appropriate because Philips Avent’s tagline is “Sense and Simplicity.” Pretty much describes this unflappable mom. If they were to make a tagline for my bottle, it would be “Frantic and Freakability” or maybe “Sucker and Sellability.”  Clearly, this bottle and Baby E were not going to match up. Too much drama queen in her blood. Another wise mom who actually got Baby E to take/wear a bottle in the early days suggested that Baby E’s mouth was a little too small to take the nipple length of the Avent. As with Dr. Brown’s, we’ll see if this is the case as Baby E — and her mouth — grow larger.

Playtex Drop-In — I didn’t want this bottle to be a winner. I’m not a the best environmentalist, but at least I know that it’s wasteful to use and discard thousands of plastic inserts over the life of a bottle-fed baby. But a friend’s lactation consultant recommended the Drop-In combined with a latex nipple for hard-to-feed babies. Something about the texture of the latex combined with the way the drop-in collapses and creates more suction as the baby nurses being ideal. Another big selling point — the liners are pre-sterilized, so there’s a high convienience factor there. Also, compared to all the other “just like nursing” bottles on this list, the Playtex Drop-In Sytem is pretty cheap — about $12 for 3 4oz.-bottles and the liners run about  $10 for 100. And, yes, the liners are recylable. But did Baby E like them? Yes…of course she did.

(Left to right) The Playtex Drop-In with orthopedic latex nipple and the Adiri Level 2.

(Left to right) The winners: the Playtex Drop-In with orthopedic latex nipple and the Adiri Level 2.

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3 thoughts on “Bottle Warfare

  1. We use the Playtex dropins with the silicone nipple. Well, we buy the Target brand liners, which work great and are much cheaper. Normally, I’m rather environmentally conscious, but I decided the convenience — combined with the fact that the bottles are a favorite on the PumpMoms Yahoo group for moms whose babies get a combination of milk “from the tap” and from a bottle — made it a no brainer to try them first.

    J has had no trouble switching back and forth, although she never took to a pacifier.

    One suggestion though. If your goal is to maintain a breastfeeding relationship over the long term, more than just a few months, you may want to stick with very slow flow nipples aka the newborn nipples. The Playtex ones are some of the slowest out there. For some babies it won’t matter. But some babies do develop a preference for the faster flow of the bottle.

  2. Hi! Jen sent me this link. Very good info!

    I am currently in a similar situation: Long story short, my 8-week-old son has had one or two bottles of breastmilk every day of his life, in addition to still breastfeeding directly. Since my lactation consultant recommended the Playtex drop-in silicone slow flows, we’ve had no nipple confusion and while he’s never been great with the bottle, he would get it down.

    But now, one week from my return to work, he has gotten super fussy on the bottle, to the point that it has sent me back to the drawing board.

    One option is to try the medium flow nipple, which my lactation consultant strongly disagrees with. However, my husband and I think that since he’s gotten so strong and efficient on the breast, the slow flow is just too slow and frustrating for him. Haven’t done it yet, but we bought the nipple for when we’re desperate to try it.

    Second option: Just today, we bought all new slow flow silicone nipples, wondering if the old ones were just worn out or something. Will probably try this first.

    But your advice on the latex is intriguing. Why do you suppose that works better than the silicone??? Victor will stop and buy some on his way home today…

    Hope you are well.

    Mary T.

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