When Did Baby Bottles Get So Cool?

Today's baby bottles are designed to better fit the needs of both breastfed and formula-fed babies. . Patrik Jech/Shutterstock

We’ve come a long way baby — with baby bottles, that is.

My youngest daughter just turned 1, so for the past year or so, I’ve been in the market for baby bottles. I found a dizzying selection of bottles that promised to be BPA-free and keep air out of baby’s belly. But I wasn’t prepared for how high-tech and cool baby bottles had become in the years since my last baby.

Bottles that curve to fit your hand or reduce the amount of air a baby sucks down are old news, I soon realized. The new thing? Bottles that mimic the look and feel of the breast, which was great for me because I was desperately trying to get a breastfed baby to take a bottle (which she never did, by the way). For example, Mimijumi makes a bottle with a wide, angled top that’s even flesh-colored (sort of, if your boob is peachy-tan). One of Avent’s bottles boasts molded petal shapes at the base of the nipple to increase softness and flexibility. The Munchkin Latch bottle has an accordion-style nipple that bends and stretches like a breast. Tommee, Adiri and more brands offer similar products.

Another surprise on the shelves: glass bottles. Knowing how often baby bottles get dropped, I couldn’t fathom opting for a glass bottle, but there were several to choose from. Glass bottle enthusiasts say the glass is super-durable and much more environmentally friendly than plastic. Lifefactory’s glass bottles come in colorful silicone sleeves to help you (and baby) grip them and cushion them during a fall. And I liked that brand for another reason: As baby grows, you can swap the nipple for a sippy cup and eventually a regular drinking cup. Glass bottles can be pricier than plastic, so when a bottle can get additional mileage beyond the baby years, that’s a plus in my book.

Speaking of which, Klean Kanteen makes a baby bottle that can perform a similar transition. The Kid Kanteen bottle is made of stainless steel (like all their bottles) and can go from a baby bottle with a silicon nipple to a regular bottle with a different cap whenever your child is ready.

Then there are bottles designed specifically for formula-fed babies, which would have been really handy back when my now-second-grader was a baby, as she never took to the breast. The Mixie bottle has a storage container inside the bottle that stores formula powder separately from water. When it’s time for baby to eat, just push a button on the bottom of the bottle to release the formula and shake to mix. Preparing formula this way is convenient because it eliminates the need for refrigeration (if you mix water and formula ahead of time, you’re supposed to refrigerate it and use it within 24 hours).

Whether your baby drinks breast milk or formula, there’s another type of bottle on the market that can reduce the amount of time spent washing baby bottles. The Playtex Nurser set allows you to fill a disposable, plastic bag with milk or formula, pop the bag in the bottle and watch baby suck it down. The plus side is that the bottles stay cleaner longer and air doesn’t have a chance to mix with the liquid. But the down side is the cost and environmental impact of buying those disposable inserts.