The baby bottle- of the myriad things that babies find to stick in their mouths during the first few months of their lives is the one that spends the most time. From satiating their hunger to working as a make-do pacifier, baby bottles give mothers a break while also keeping the baby happy. They get the most use and wear and tear. While seeming like they are built to last forever, given the tasks they cope with, bottles have to be replaced periodically.
In spite of the best hygiene and care, baby bottles are subject to bumps and drops and this can lead to deterioration. Baby bottles are usually washed in hot water and sterilized to avoid the buildup of bacteria and other germs. This is also a contributing factor in the degradation of the bottle.
First things first, before we jump to a conclusion, we need to get an answer to an interesting question.
Do plastic baby bottles expire?
Yes, they do. Plastic is a material that deteriorates with use and this holds true for baby bottles as well. With the advent of material research, better manufacturing processes, and environmental concerns, the plastics we use in day-to-day life are of much better quality than those used some time ago. Better quality means that they will last longer, not that they are immune to wear and tear.
BPA- and EA-free bottles are the norm nowadays. Any product that is BPA and EA free is one that does not use the organic compound Bisphenol A in its construction and does not leach any Estrogen Activity(EA) chemicals when subjected to pressure or temperature. In the past, many plastic products such as baby bottles, plastic plates and cutlery, storage containers, and drink bottles have been made using BPA. Infants and young children were shown to have the highest level of BPA exposure due to bottles and sippy cups being made from BPA plastics. When bottles and cups are washed, sterilized in hot water, or heated, small amounts of BPA leach out of the plastics. Niniobaby has bottles that are made of Tritan, a material that is proven to be BPA and EA free after stringent laboratory tests.
Plastic bottles are to be replaced every four to six months. BPA-free bottles last about six months and should be disposed of after that. If there are instructions on the packaging on how long they will last and if a disposal date like four months is given, it is recommended to follow the same. If you are unsure if the bottle is BPA-free or contains BPA, it is recommended to dispose of the bottle in three months.
General guidelines for baby bottle replacement
Two things to consider when replacing a baby bottle are when to replace them and how to choose the appropriate replacement for the one that the baby is used to.
To replace a baby feeding bottle, whether plastic or glass, subject it to a thorough visual inspection. If no cracks or chips are noticed, a good rule of thumb is to replace them every four to six months. Plastic bottles, whether BPA or BPA and EA free, will also start to show signs of discoloration. These also have to be discarded immediately.
Glass bottles last a little longer, provided they are not dropped. Chips or cracks on glass bottles can damage a baby’s skin if they come in contact and can also serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful germs. Even if a single scratch is on a glass bottle, it is better to be safe than sorry and throw it away. If the bottle shows any signs of cracking or coloring that is hovering in the questionable category under inspection, it is better to dispose of them than to hang onto them.
Some types of baby bottles come with bottle liners. Bottle liners are used to keep the bottle clean. They are known to collapse like a breast and proven to help prevent air from mixing with milk for air-free feeding that helps reduce colic, gas, and fussiness. Bottle liners are usually disposable and have to be discarded after each use.
How often should you replace baby bottle nipples?
Baby bottle nipples are subject to even more wear and tear than the bottle itself. While the bottle may only have to take a few bumps and drops, nipples are subject to a lot of stress from sucking and biting. They are also sterilized more carefully as they are constantly in contact with the mouth of the baby.
For these reasons, nipples have to be replaced more often than the bottle, as often as one to two months. Periodic checks of the nipple ensure that they are replaced on time. As with baby feeding bottles, a simple visual check will tell when it is time for a replacement. The most common signs to watch out for are:
- The liquid is pouring out in a stream:This indicates that the hole has become too big due to the natural tendency of rubber to expand due to use. Bottle nipples are designed in such a way that the liquid inside, whether it be milk, water, or juice, drips out in a steady manner. When it comes rushing out, it is time to replace it.
- Discoloration:As with the bottles, discoloration of the nipple indicates deterioration and has to be replaced immediately.
- Thinning:Thinning of the nipple is an early sign that the nipple is weakening. Nipples are built strong for them to last through bites and continuous sucking. As it weakens, it is more prone to tears. To test the strength of a nipple, pinch and pull hard on the bulb. When you let go, it should rebound back to its original shape. If it does not, it means that it is weakening and has to be properly disposed of.
- Stickiness or swelling:If the nipple is sticky to the touch after cleaning or swollen or bulging in places, these are signs of deterioration. It should be thrown away.
- Cracks, tears, or breaks:Cracks and tears could push more liquid out than needed and lead to a choking hazard. These will develop very quickly as they are being sucked on and pieces of the nipple could break off and also lead to a choking hazard.
- Fitting:The nipple should fit correctly on the bottle. If it does not fit right, it could lead to leaks or could also be a sign of thinning. Replace the nipple immediately.
Things to consider when replacing baby bottles and nipples
There are no standardized rules for replacing baby bottles and nipples, and the ones listed out above can be used as guidelines for the same. If unsure, it is safest to replace them. Babies are quite sensitive to the feeding process, and something as simple as a thinning nipple or a scratched bottle can ruin the experience for them.
While looking for a replacement or for something new, a good thing to keep in mind is that the bottle of choice is BPA and EA-free. Many studies have been undertaken and have produced links between EA and cancer, thyroid dysfunction, reproductive issues, and attention deficits.
Products manufactured to be BPA and EA free will say so on the label, like Niniobaby’s baby feeding bottles made from Tritan. These plastics may also be marked with a recycle code of 3 or 7 if the information is not available on the label. It is a good idea to take a picture of the label and the information on the packaging, as it may come in handy for disposal information.
Babies can quickly outgrow the feeding bottles. When they start feeding more and more as they grow older, the sizes of the bottles have to change accordingly. Bottles are available in various sizes for this reason. Baby feeding bottles are also available in travel sizes so that repeated filling is not required during travel.
Baby bottle shapes also differ and there are various ones that can be chosen based on the usage. They are generally tall and straight. Bottles will also come as angled with a bent neck, which may make it easier to feed. There are also wide ones available that can fit a wide short nipple that mimics a mom’s breast.
Bottle nipples also come in various sizes and shapes depending on the age of the baby and how big the mouth is. The best one is what fits comfortably in a baby’s mouth. Sizes are termed as levels and Level 1 is for 0-3 months and goes all the way to Level 4 for 9 months+ babies.
There are different types of nipples available like traditional nipples, naturally shaped nipples, latex ones, and multi-flow nipples. Based on the use, the appropriate one may be chosen. There are also special nipples available that are anti-colic or vented and ones manufactured for a specific flow. Some newborns benefit from faster flow, while some others prefer slower passage of milk.
It all comes down to how comfortable the baby is when drinking from a particular combination of bottle and nipple, and mothers know best while it comes to their baby. Make a choice that your baby seems most comfortable with, and this is the right choice.