best bottles for breastfed babies

Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies Tested by a Feeding Expert

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The best bottles for breastfed babies have a gradual slope from tip to base and most importantly are slow flow.

Don’t be fooled by the hype, most bottles advertised as being the best baby bottles for breastfed babies are some of the worst!

As a pediatric occupational therapist, feeding and swallowing specialist, and certified lactation educator, I have fed a lot of babies with a lot of different bottles!

And after having two kids of my own with tongue tie and oral motor dysfunction, I know first hand how important picking the right bottle is to help your baby easily go between breast and bottle feeding.

There’s a significant difference in the way babies feed from a bottle compared to the breast. No bottle can truly mimic the breast, but some bottles are definitely better than others and can better support your breastfeeding experience.

Baby bottle aisle

How are you supposed to know which type of bottle is best when there are so many options? It’s overwhelming to walk down the baby bottle aisle and see so many different brands and features. From anti-colic bottles to wide-neck bottles, slow flow nipples to even preemie nipples. How do you know what the right bottle is for your baby? I’m here to help answer that question and share some good options with you!

To skip ahead to see my top bottle choices, click here.

What to Look for in a Bottle for Breastfeeding Babies

Flow Rate

Dripping bottle

The most important factor when choosing a bottle for combo feeding (breast and bottle feeding) is the flow! Generally speaking, the breast tends to be a slower flow of milk than most bottles.

Some mamas do have a fast let down of course, but in general babies have to work quite hard at the breast to remove the milk. However, tilt almost any bottle upside down and the milk drips right out. Babies can get away with just chomping on a bottle and will still get some milk, but this doesn’t work the same at the breast as suction is essential for effective milk removal.

I did a drip test for all my recommended bottles so you can see for yourself that all of them drip when tilted upside down and they all vary in flow rate despite them all being “slow-flow”. Click here to check it out.

By giving bottles that are faster flow, babies can get used to not having to work so hard. This can lead to breast refusal and a preference for bottle feeding.

There is no standardization for use of the term “slow flow”! This means that one bottle brand’s slow flow could be twice as fast as another brand. Checkout this study by Britt Padros (a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and IBCLC) demonstrating the variety of flow rates across bottle brands. I know this can be frustrating! But I have some good recommendations for you that truly are slow flow!

If you purchased a slow-flow nipple but it seems a bit too fast, try tightening the nipple ring more. Tighter=slower.

In addition to using a slow-flow nipple when giving the bottle, make sure you do paced bottle feeding to make them work for it even more. This means feeding baby in a nearly upright or sidelying position and holding the bottle level so the milk does not flow passively into their mouth. See below for position recommendations.

Baby bottle feeding in upright position
Elevated sidelying position bottle feeding

Do older babies need a faster flow? If you have been bottle feeding for awhile and wondering when you should change the flow rate of the nipple click here.

Nipple Shape

Bottles that are advertised as looking like the breast are some of the worst options for breastfed babies. These nipples are ultra wide neck with a short tip and prevent a deep latch.

Como tomo nipple
(This nipple shape is not recommended)

This may be what a breast (sort of…) looks like at rest, but when a baby latches on the breast, they draw the nipple into their mouth causing the nipple to elongate.

Human nipples are stretchy and bottle nipples are not. In order to allow for as deep a latch as possible, a baby needs to be able to put as much of the nipple as possible in their mouth.

Nipples that are more narrow and nipples with a gradual slope allow for a deeper latch.

Dr browns nipple
(Narrow nipple)
Gradual slope nipple
(Gradual slope nipple)

With narrow nipples (like Dr. Brown), it’s important for the entire nipple to be in baby’s mouth with baby’s lips touching the nipple ring as seen in the image below.

Baby bottle feeding with lips touching nipple ring

Nipple shape also matters when choosing a pacifier! Check out our article “The Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies” for recommendations.

Other Bottle Features

Bottles that help to reduce air intake can be helpful for some babies. If your baby struggles with gas or reflux, bottles that have an anti-colic design with air vents may be beneficial. If baby has a good latch at the breast, they really should not be swallowing any air. The amount of air tends to be higher with bottle feeding.

Larger bottles contain more air in them as they empty out, so try to only use the size bottle baby needs. Breastfed babies typically will not drink an 8oz bottle of breastmilk so you typically don’t need bottles that hold that much volume. The composition of breastmilk is always changing to meet baby’s needs and can be higher calorie than baby formula, which means they tend to drink less milk.

There are also different options when it comes to the material bottles are made from. While this does not really impact babies ability to transition between breast and bottle, it may be an important factor for you as the parent.

Plastic bottles are the most common but there are also silicone, glass, and even stainless steel options. Unfortunately I have not found a silicone or stainless steel bottle I would recommend for breastfed babies, but there are quite a few glass options on the market now!

When to Offer a Bottle for the First Time to a Breastfed Baby

Breastfeeding

I know you may have been told to wait 4-6 weeks before offering a bottle by Google or maybe your lactation consultant. In my experience, this is way too late!

If you need to return to work or need or want your baby to take a bottle for any other reason, you need to offer a bottle sooner!

Of course it is ideal to wait until breastfeeding is going well and mom’s milk supply is well established. But introducing a bottle once a day is not going to harm the breastfeeding relationship.

I have seen way too many mamas get incredibly stressed out because they waited too long and their baby is refusing the bottle. With a little planning ahead, this can almost always be avoided.

I recommend starting to offer a bottle between 2-3 weeks of age. If possible, only offer the bottle one time per day for the first few weeks. And if baby takes it really easily, every other day should be enough to keep them used to it! If it becomes more challenging, go back to giving a bottle daily.

If you’re breastfed baby is refusing the bottle click here for tips to increase acceptance.

Does Bottle Feeding Cause Nipple Confusion?

The problem with bottle feeding breastfed babies is usually not due to the nipple itself. The “confusion” is almost always due to flow rate and how baby is being fed.

Let’s give babies some credit…They are not “confused”! They are smart! If bottle feeding is easier, of course they may learn to prefer it! Paced bottle feeding can help to prevent this. Feed baby upright or in sidelying and hold the bottle level so gravity does not make the milk flow faster.

Some babies do prefer the firmness of a bottle nipple. It’s already shaped for them and can therefore be easier for baby to latch and to feel it in their mouth. For babies with an under responsive tactile sensory system, they may prefer bottle nipples or nipple shields because they provide stronger sensory feedback. Limiting the bottle to a few times per week in the beginning may help to prevent this preference.

The Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies

See below for recommendations, all of which I have personally tested with my own babies as well as the babies I work with. Bottles are listed starting with my top choices.

1) Gulicola Extra Slow Flow Bottle

Gulicola baby bottle
  • Extra slow flow and Slow-flow nipple options
  • Gradual slope shape
  • Anti-colic venting system
  • Latch on line
  • Glass option
  • Easy to clean-Top rack dishwasher safe
  • Storage lids included

Gulicola is my top bottle recommendation for breastfed babies! The SS is very slow flow and the gradual slope of the nipple promotes a deep latch and a wide mouth. They are available in 3oz, 5oz, and 8oz bottles.

A unique feature of this bottle is that they come with storage lids making it easy to store milk in the fridge after pumping and to take in the go. You can even use them as food storage containers when you no longer need them for milk! They sell a set of glass milk storage bottles separately if you are looking for that.

There is even an option to purchase a straw top for their bottles to aid in the transition off the bottle.

2) Evenflo Balance+ Standard Neck

Evenflo balance bottle
  • Slow-flow nipple
  • Gradual slope shape
  • Anti-colic venting system
  • Affordable option
  • Glass option
  • Easy to clean-Top rack dishwasher safe
  • Nipple fits on other bottles including Dr. Browns Narrow Neck Bottles and Medela Milk Storing Bottles

This bottle is often recommended by lactation consultants. Wide neck is also available, but the standard neck tends to promote a better latch.

Thes bottles are compatible with many breast pumps.

Some people complain about the nipple collapsing. Pinching the vent at the base of the nipple prior to first use can help to prevent this!

This bottle has become quite popular and therefore is often sold out and hard to find!

3) Pigeon SS

Pigeon SS nipple
  • Slow-flow nipple
  • Gradual slope shape
  • Anti-colic venting system
  • Latch on line
  • Glass option
  • Easy to clean-Top rack dishwasher safe
  • Nipple fits on many bottles, including: Mam, Evenflo, Nuk Classic, and Lasinoh

Pigeon is another great option that is truly slow flow and has a gradual slope. This nipple is more expensive than others, but it fits on other bottles you may already have.

4) Lactation Hub Gentle Flow+ Bottle Nipple with Gradual Slope

Lactation hub nipple
  • Slow-flow nipple
  • Gradual slope shape
  • Anti-colic venting system
  • Latch on line
  • Glass option
  • Easy to clean-Top rack dishwasher safe
  • Nipple fits on many bottles, including: Mam, Evenflo, Nuk Classic, and Lasinoh

Lactation Hub’s gradual slope nipple is nearly identical to Pigeon.

They do sell bottles as well, but you can purchase the nipples separately to try out on a bottle you may already have at home. Read the description carefully for the type of bottles this nipple fits in. They have a standard neck option as well which fits in any standard neck bottle, including Dr. Browns and Gerber.

While this nipple is only available directly from the company’s website, they offer free shipping on all orders!

5) Dr. Brown’s Anti-Colic Options+ Narrow Neck Bottles

Dr browns bottle
  • Slow-flow nipple
  • Narrow shape
  • Anti-colic venting system
  • Affordable option
  • Glass option
  • Sold everywhere
  • Easy to clean-Top rack dishwasher safe

NICU therapists tend to recommend Dr. Brown’s more than any other bottle because babies who have spent a lot of time in the hospital and are used to disposable hospital nipples tend to transition well to a Dr. Brown’s bottle due to the similar shape.

Therapists also love Dr. Brown’s because they have a wide range of flow rates available, from Ultra Preemie all the way to Y-cut. Ultra Preemie flow is recommended for hospital use only typically, but it is available online if you really need it. Be sure to work with a feeding specialist if your baby can only tolerate this super slow flow. The Preemie flow nipple works well for many newborns, especially those who are primarily breastfed.

Dr. Brown’s offers more product options for their bottles than I have seen from any other brand. This makes it easy to customize your bottles to be just what baby needs. They have silicone sleeves for their glass bottles, wide-neck bottles, sizes from 2ozs to 8ozs, bottle handles, and a sippy straw that fits on their 8oz bottle for an easy transition to straw drinking.

Some people complain that there are too many parts to clean, but with their Options+ line you can remove the vent if baby does not struggle with gas/colic.

6) Evenflo Proflo and Classic Bottles

Evenflo proflo baby bottle
  • Slow-flow nipple
  • Narrow shape
  • Affordable option
  • Sold everywhere
  • Glass option
  • Easy to clean-Top rack dishwasher safe

The Classic and Proflo bottles are very similar, but the nipple shapes vary slightly and the Proflo may help to reduce air intake a bit more. They both have a narrow shape similar to Dr.Brown’s.

Just like with Dr. Brown’s, if your baby spent time in the NICU and is having a hard time transitioning off disposable hospital nipples, they may transition well to these bottles.


While the shape of the nipple is an important factor to consider, the flow rate and how you feed your baby are what matter most! Remember to use a slow flow and pace your baby!

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