The main reason we chose the Dr. Brown’s range of baby bottles is because they are designed to help prevent colic, a symptom caused during the feeding process. The Tommee Tippee range was recommended to us and we were given some bottles to try. Different things suit different people and we just couldn’t get along with these bottles at all. For me they were too short and stubby, which meant they didn’t fit into small spaces as easily as some other bottles. Holding them whilst feeding was sometimes a little cumbersome too. Of course, there are a number of different shapes and sizes within a range but we just preferred the Dr Brown’s range.
Colic and wind problems in babies can be very difficult and frustrating, not to mention uncomfortable for the baby concerned. The main design feature of the Dr Brown’s range of bottles is the patented ‘Natural Flow’ system. The idea of this system is to reduce the amount of air sucked in by a baby and therefore reduce colic and other excessive wind symptoms.
- Easy to hold
- They reduce wind and gas (colic) symptoms
- Easy to clean
- The colored marks on the outside fade over time
- Sometimes leak when being shaken
- Can be a little more expensive than some other brands
How Does Natural Flow work?
When a baby sucks on a teat there is a tendency for some air to be pushed back inside. If the baby then ingests this air from the teat, colic and other problems can occur. The idea of the Natural Flow system is to reduce the amount of air sucked in by a baby and therefore reduce colic symptoms.
The system provides a vented, vacuum-free bottle that helps to eliminate air bubbles in the formula. The absence of negative pressure reduces the build-up of fluid in a baby’s ear and the positive pressure helps to mimic natural breastfeeding, which can only be a good thing for your baby. You can read more about it on the Dr Brown’s website.
We have the wide neck bottles but there are standard Dr Brown’s bottles available, as well as a newborn feeding set that includes a few extras. The bottles themselves are made from clear plastic. The plastic used is Polypropylene and the bottles are free from Phthalate, BPA, Latex, PVC, Nitrosamine. BPA is a chemical of concern for many parents and following extensive research baby products containing BPA were withdrawn from sale across the globe.
Having heard about this we made a point of looking out for the BPA free logo when shopping for our baby bottles. The first set of bottles we brought in the Dr Brown’s range had blue markings on the outside for the branding and level guide on the side. However, after nearly two year’s constant use and cleaning the blue has been almost worn away completely. Now it is difficult to see the level guide on the outside when filling with water. This is something to bear in mind if you intend to use your bottles for some time.
The most recent bottles have no blue markings on the outside but now have raised lettering and markings for the level guide. This is much better because no matter how much use and wear the bottle are subjected to, you will always know how far to fill them up. We started having to use one bottle to fill and decant into the others to get the correct amount of water in each. Obviously not ideal, given the importance put upon sterilization for baby bottles.
The shape and size of the bottles make them easy to hold and when feeding a baby. I much prefer this range to others, such as Tommee Tippee, which always seem a bit short and stubby to me. Although they are designed to mimic a mother’s nipple very well, the bottles themselves just don’t seem to fit into the pockets of baby changing bags or other places as well as our Dr Brown’s bottles. This is just a personal thing and it really depends on where you keep your bottles and what you do with them.
Dr Brown Nipple Sizes
We got our bottles before our first daughter was born. We, or should I say, my wife, was unsure as to how long she would breast feed for or if it would be successful, so bottles are always good to have in case things change.
As with most baby bottles, the Dr Brown bottles have different nipple sizes to use at different stages of a baby’s growth. We started off with level one nipples/ teats and as Sophia grew she needed the next level up. Each nipple level is designed for an age group, as most babies will be at a similar stage of development to each other for the first year or so.
Level 1 nipples – from birth
Level 2 nipples – from 3 months
Level 3 nipple – from 6 months
The difference between the nipple levels is simply the size of the hole in the end. As your baby grows and becomes stronger, they will want more formula at a time. While a level 1 nipple is fine for a new-born baby a 6-month-old will struggle to suck enough formula from the bottle so a bigger hole is needed.
Cleaning the Dr Brown’s bottles is easy, especially with a bottle brush. There are Dr. Brown cleaning brushes which complement the range but to be honest, any cleaning brush for baby bottles will do. I generally don’t bother spending more money on something just because it matches the range unless it is essential. I would say though, that the parts of these bottles should be given a good clean after use. Sterilizing baby bottles will kill most of the bacteria but it will not dislodge and clean the parts as well.
Can Dr Brown’s bottles go in the dishwasher? Are they dishwasher safe? The answer is, yes they are. All parts of the bottles in this range can safely be cleaned in a dishwasher. In fact, many people use a dishwasher to clean their baby bottles then dispense with the need to sterilize afterward. We don’t use a dishwasher, many due to the expense of running it every day but I prefer to give it all a good wash by hand followed by a sterilize in the microwave using a steam sterilizer. Dr Brown’s bottles are microwave safe.
The Natural Flow System
There are seven parts to these bottles, if you count the disc that sits below the teat to prevent leaks when on the move. Putting them together is simple and takes seconds. Taking them apart to clean them is just as easy and quick; they just pop apart for a good soak in warm soapy water. The long plastic funnel sits inside the yellow collar. This is the main part of the Natural Flow system. The collar sits inside the neck of the bottle then the lid, containing the nipple and disc (if required) screws down to the bottle. A cap is included that snaps on the top to protect the nipple.
It is important to use a bottle cleaner to get into the small parts like the end of the funnel and around the collar. I have to say that this is the annoying bit for me. OK, it only takes a few seconds longer to do but I get impatient and end up not getting into every nook and cranny. Sterilizing is easy because our microwave steam sterilizer has a base plate with lots of holes in. These are ideal for holding the funnels upright. I have also noticed that most sterilizers have a standard threaded hole that holds most standard sized bottlenecks. This means that you are not limited to using all of that brand’s products for your baby’s feeding needs.
Something that I find annoying about these bottles, which I can’t really compare to others, is that they have a tendency to leak when shaken. Now, this could be down to a couple of things; the contents is too hot and pressure builds up or something is not sealed quite right. Or it could be a compromise of the vented design. I am guessing other brands may do the same but a tip I discovered is to turn the bottle upside down when shaking to mix the formula. This is where the Natural Flow design may also help because air won’t escape from the teat end; it is funneled back to the top.
Overall I would recommend the Dr. Brown’s bottles over other brands. For me the look and feel of them is better; I am not after bright colors or oddly shaped bottles. A nipple is a nipple most of the time and we have no complaints about Dr. Brown’s nipples. Some brands have developed a more natural feel, the Tommee Tippee ‘Closer to Nature’ range is an example.
More importantly, the anti-colic design appears to work. When we initially tried the Tommee Tippee range with no such gizmo, our baby had a lot of burps and more winding was needed. That seemed to subside when we started to use our Dr Brown’s bottles. Now with our youngest daughter, we notice she has hardly any wind at all and can be ‘burped’ easily and less before settling her for a sleep.
I have found that the plastic bottles do not discolor as much as some other plastic products, which is good when they last for a couple of years. Our second child now uses the bottles we have and they have lasted very well. They are strong, durable and able to take a bashing when dropped, heated, cooled and so on.