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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.
2: …unless your baby is unable to breastfeed
If your baby can’t feed directly from the breast, perhaps because she’s premature or has special needs, or you are separated for any reason, start double pumping breast milk as soon as you can after the birth.
Research shows that starting to express within the first few hours (when a healthy newborn would usually have her first breastfeed) helps mums produce a higher volume of milk in the early days and weeks, giving their babies the best chance of being fed exclusively on mother’s milk.
If you’re expecting your baby (or babies) to be born pre-term, in need of intensive care, or to have a condition that might make breastfeeding difficult, prepare yourself. Learn about expressing, source equipment you might need, and ask a healthcare professional, lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist for support.
There will probably be a hospital-grade double breast pump at your hospital or birth facility, so ask staff to show you how to use it. It’s important to remove milk from your breasts whenever your baby would normally drink – this means your breasts will still get the message to make milk. Aim for eight to 10 pumping sessions every 24 hours at first, and continue this frequency once your milk comes in.
Do Babies Need Teethers?
Baby teethers help soothe babies’ swollen gums when they start teething. Chewing on a teether can provide some comfort to the baby, but there are many other reasons that babies like to put teether toys in their mouth to chew on. Babies generally try to put anything they can get their hands on (some can be dangerous) into their mouth at an early age. This encourages the baby to move their tongue inside their mouth. It helps them become aware of their mouth and strengthen facial muscles, as well as aid in speech production.
Teether buying tips:
Teethers made from rubber, silicone, plastic, or wood are available in the market. They come in different shapes, colors, sizes, and textures. They are typically made easy for the baby to hold on to. It is advised to buy toys that are specifically meant for teething. Teethers that are liquid-filled or have plastic objects that could break, cause injury, or choking should be avoided. The teethers should be phthalate and BPA (bisphenol A) free because these chemicals can be harmful to the baby. Several teethers are labeled as nontoxic but still contain BPA. Hence, parents should be careful when buying teethers. The teethers should also contain nontoxic pigments.
Teethers should be cleaned regularly and should not be shared between babies. The teether can be washed with soap and water or washed in the dishwasher every day. Teethers can be sanitized using wipes during the day.
Selecting an Infant Toothbrush
The ADA recommends you begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they erupt (usually around six months). Brushing is essential because decay and cavities can happen as early as your child’s first tooth. There are toothbrushes made for infants and toddlers. They are small and have extra-soft bristles, so they won’t irritate your baby’s gums. Your dental professional will guide you regarding the best toothbrush and toothpaste to use. Here are some options to consider:Teething brushes for babies and finger toothbrushes for toddlers are great for soothing sore gums during teething. Refrigerate them for added relief. Plus, it helps your baby or toddler get used to toothbrushing.Choose the right size for your child. Select a toothbrush that fits comfortably in your child’s mouth. Infant and toddler toothbrushes usually have smaller, slightly rounder heads.Select a baby toothbrush style that has a chunkier handle and a no-slip grip. This helps with manual dexterity and makes it easier for your growing baby to grab and get used to holding.Electric toothbrushes are a great idea as your child grows. You can find musical or cartoon character themed kid versions for extra fun that will lead to at least twice daily brushing and on the way to a good oral care regime.
When to Add Toothpaste
According to the ADA, you should incorporate toothpaste into your child’s oral care as soon as the first tooth appears. Use a tiny smear (grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste for children younger than three years old.
It’s never too early to start a good oral care routine. Start right away with your baby. Use the right toothbrush and the right amount of toothpaste. You will enjoy many firsts with your baby, including that first tooth. Make sure to contact your dental care professional for an appointment as soon as it comes in.
A Guide to Bottle Nipple Sizes: How to Choose the Right Level
Baby bottle nipples aren’t one size fits all. Here’s how to choose a nipple based on your little one’s age and desired flow level.
Many new parents are surprised to learn that bottle nipples aren’t one size fits all. Indeed, there are multiple nipple “levels” that correlate with your baby’s age and desired milk flow. Knowing when to size up or size down can be a bit confusing, so we compiled this guide to understanding baby bottle nipple levels.
What are Nipple Levels?
Manufacturers categorize nipple levels by a baby’s age; you can usually find this information on the product packaging. Here’s a general breakdown, though the exact levels might vary between brands.
Level 0: Preemie
Level 1: Newborn (0-3 months)
Level 2: Babies 3-6 months
Level 3: Babies 6 months and older
Level 4: Babies 9 months and older
Nipple levels differ based on flow rate (how quickly your baby can get milk). Young babies take in smaller amounts at a time, so they need nipples with slower flow. These “level one” nipples tend to mimic breastfeeding because they require similar muscles. As babies grow, they drink more milk at a quicker pace, so they usually upgrade to nipples with a quicker flow.