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How many baby bottles do I need?

Deciding how many baby bottles to buy can be difficult because before your baby is born you have no clue what your feeding routine will be. 

Plus there is such a huge choice of baby bottles and teats on the market that it can feel daunting when it comes to picking out what you will use. 

Baby bottle with milk

I remember really struggling to pick a brand when I was shopping for baby bottles at the start of our parenting journey. 

I ended up buying nothing so I could wait until after the baby was born. I don’t recommend doing this, as it left us scrambling to buy something in the first week after she was born. 

Picking the right brand for you is a very personal choice, but do remember that all of the big brands have created products based on years of consumer research so you can’t go too far wrong!

If you are planning to breastfeed your baby then having a couple of bottles and a breast pump are still essential – as it gives you the option to express some milk so you can have a little break. 

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How many baby bottles do I need to buy before baby is born?

If you are planning to formula feed your baby then buy eight bottles before they are born. 

The reason for buying several is that it saves you on washing up bottles multiple times in one day. The idea here is to make it so you only wash up once or twice per day. 

In the early days you will find your baby may feed every two to three hours, so as much as eight or more times per day. 

A formula feed needs to be discarded within two hours after it is made for safety. So even though your newborn may only manage a few ml of their feed, it will need to be discarded after this time.  

This is for safety reasons, as the milk can build up harmful bacteria over time. 

The number of feeds your baby needs will settle to around five to six times per day by the time your baby is 12 weeks so those frequent feeds do not last for long. 

When my kids were babies I would put the dirty bottles to one side in the kitchen then wash in warm, soapy water before then sterilising them all in one batch at the end of the day. 

As a new mama I just didn’t have the time to wash each bottle after every individual feed. Having a good stash of bottles meant I had plenty for an entire day of feeds without washing up several times. 

You particularly will not want to be washing up bottles in the middle of the night after your baby has woken for a night feed. 

How many baby bottles do you need to buy before baby is born?

How many bottles do I need if I am breastfeeding?

If you are breastfeeding but want to express some milk to offer the odd bottle-feed then get two bottles. 

You may also want to purchase some breast milk freezer bags so that you can store your expressed milk either in the fridge or in the freezer. 

Freshly expressed breast milk will last for eight days in the fridge or six months in the freezer, according to the NHS

I used to pump directly into a bottle, pop it into the fridge and then use that feed within the next few days. 

Of course you may find that one pumping session does not give you enough milk for an entire feed. In this case you will need to merge milk from different pumping sessions. 

To do this safely first allow your freshly pumped milk to cool, as it will express at body temperature. Once it is room temperature then add it to milk you have already pumped in the fridge. Remember that the number of days the milk is safe for use starts from when the first lot of milk was expressed. 

No matter how much expressed breast milk you are planning to use, you will need a great breast pump to make your life easier. 

I recommend this one, the Medela Swing, over and above any others. It’s the best electric breast pump I have come across and lasted me for two babies!

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What baby bottle sizes should I buy?

Different brands may vary in sizes but the most common standard bottle sizes are 150ml (5oz) for newborns and 260 ml (9oz) for older. 

They also produce different types of bottle teat, with some offering a fast flow speed for older babies who can drink at greater speed and slow flow for newborn babies with tiny tummies. 

When it comes to what baby bottle sizes you should buy, if you want to save yourself money then go straight for the larger bottles. Most brands will feature teats with the appropriate flow rate for newborns fitting both the smaller and larger sized bottles.  

You don’t need to fill your baby bottles to the top. Formula milk boxes will show you how much your baby may need per feed roughly depending on their age. There’s a handy guide on how many feeds your baby may have daily over on the C&G website.

As I said the big brands such as Tommee Tippee, Medela and Dr Brown’s may vary with the bottle sizes they offer. However you will find most offer a small and large option. 

What type of bottle should I buy for my baby?

The use of Bisphenol A (BPA) is banned in baby bottles due to concerns from the European Commission that chemicals may leach out of the plastic. 

So always look for BPA-free products (all of the big brands will adhere to this). 

Choosing the right bottle is really down to you and its important to note you can’t go too far wrong with the large name baby brands such as Medela and Tommee Tippee. 

Some things you may want to look out for in terms of the bottles you choose include: 

  • Special features. Some bottles claim to be anti-colic as they reduce the likelihood of your baby swallowing too much air during a feed. Parents have mixed results with these and really there is no product that absolutely guarantees to prevent colic. There are several downsides to anti-colic bottles, the main one being they often come in multiple parts that make them much harder to clean and then reassemble. Other special features include heat-sensitive bottles that change colour of the milk is too hot. 
  • Wide neck. If you are formula feeding then it is much easier to get the formula powder into the bottle if the neck is wider. 
  • Stability. Tall and skinny bottles may be knocked over easier. Bottles such as Tommee Tippee have a less top-heavy designs that makes then harder to knock over. 
  • Measurement markings. All baby bottles come with lines marking in ml and oz how much fluid is in the bottle. However, they differ in how these markings are made. I have found the markings can wear off over time with frequent washing and sterilising. Consider if bottles with raised markings might be slightly better for the long-term. 
  • Material. Glass bottles are not as popular as the BPA-free unbreakable material but they have positives such as being environmentally-friendly as they can be recycled. 

What type of teats are best for babies?

Just like bottles there are lots of different types of baby teats on the market. 

Bottle feeding baby

Some promise anti-colic properties while others are incredibly simple in their design. 

Teats are made from silicone or latex. There’s not a huge difference between them, although latex tends to be more flexible and may need to be replaced more frequently due to wear. 

The main thing to look out for when purchasing teats for your baby’s bottles is the flow rate, which is how fast the milk goes into your baby’s mouth. A newborn baby will struggle with fast flow and an older baby will become frustrated with a slow flow. 

Many baby bottles come in sets including various sizes of teats so you can switch as your baby gets older. 

What else do I need to buy for bottle feeding my baby?

There are a few essentials when it comes to bottle feeding and a few things that are simply nice to have. 

You will definitely need the following items: 

  • Bottle brush 
  • Steriliser – There are a few different types of bottle and teat steriliser you can buy. The cold water steriliser is the cheapest option and involves a large bucket of cold water which you drop a sterilising tablet into, before then submerging the bottles into it for a certain amount of time until they are sterilised. There are also microwave sterilisers and standalone electric sterilisers (these take up the most space on your kitchen counter). 
  • Insulated bottle bag – for when you go out with baby so you can transport feeds safely. You could use the readymade bottles of formula milk (although this is not the most cost effective way to feed your baby formula). 

  • Muslins – essential for burping so that you don’t get spit-up on your clothes. 
  • Bibs – Your baby may dribble milk and a bib can catch the spillage. With newborn babies you may find that dribbled milk collects in the folds of their neck, where it may congeal if you don’t wipe it away. A bib can help to prevent that. 

The following items are nice to have if you are bottle feeding: 

  • Bottle prep machine – It does all of the hard work for you when it comes to mixing a bottle including getting the amount go water and powder right. It also mixes the feed to the perfect temperature. 
  • Milk dispenser – if you will be doing a lot of formula feeding on the go then this is handy. You fill it with the correct amount of formula powder to mix up a feed when you are out of the house. It saves you lugging a whole tub of formula powder around with you. 
  • Bottle drying rack – You can dry your bottles on a clean towel on the kitchen counter or on your normal drainer (as long as it’s clean). But a bottle drying rack can come in handy, especially as baby bottles tend to fall over quite easily when placed upside down. 
  • Bottle warmer – If you have expressed breast milk from the fridge then you can use this to warm up your bottle fast. 
How many baby bottles do you need to buy

Vicky Smith is a mother of two daughters and a journalist. She has been writing and vlogging about parenting for over five years.