Second-Best to Breast: Glass Baby Bottles

Breast or bottle? While breastfeeding is best, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most babies, as a practical matter, learn to handle both. Breastfeeding moms frequently express and store milk so baby can be bottle-fed in a pinch. But as with their natural counterparts, not all bottles are created alike.

Some plastic nursers are made with polycarbonate (recycling code #7), which contains Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that, according to a draft report by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, has been shown to cause behavioral changes in young lab animals and interfere with puberty. BPA has been observed in some tests to leach into liquids from polycarbonate bottles that have been heated, worn down or scratched (and what baby bottle, pray tell, has not?).

As our children’s environment is already chock-full of developmental hazards such as pesticides, mercury and lead, we can easily say no to polycarbonate baby bottles. And Wal-Mart has announced it will stop selling polycarbonate bottles in 2009.

Second best to the breast? Nursers made of strong, heat-resistant glass, a nonreactive material which won’t leach any chemicals, are now easy to be had from companies such as Evenflo, Bornfree and Dr. Brown’s.

But today’s parents-on-the-go, like surfers, can use a quiver for different conditions, and safer plastic bottles are available for those times when you need something lightweight. Nursers made by Gerber and Sassy of polypropylene (PP #5), or by Playtex of low-density polyethylene (LDPE #4) are BPA-free. Do, however, be sure to check online or ask instore before you buy, as many brands may still carry polycarbonate bottles, too.

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By Mindy Pennybacker, Plenty magazine


Jesse C.
Jesse C8 years ago

blah i use bpa free plastic bottles... I dont think im a terrible mother for doing so!!!!!

Emily S.
Emily S.8 years ago

Regarding post by Kim Wilkinson-davies, the information you provided is only partially true. Many women can express milk but their babies are not able to latch on. They choose to express breast milk and place it in a bottle for feeding. In the instance where fresh breast milk is being served glass is better by all accounts. It is when you refrigerate breast milk that it has the issue of the white blood cells adhering to the bottle. It is also published that they will detach after 24 hours. Freezing breast milk destroys most of the natural immune factors the milk contains. I did my research. Jessica S it is only US society that shuns milk nurses most of the rest of the world does not. Asian countries use them quite often. That statement showed a lack of enlightenment. Having said that, I was also bottle fed and have an envious relationship with my mother. Nikolas that was a somewhat ignorant remark. Our ancestors did not have glass or plastic bottles so they used their only other resource. Today's mothers really love their children too.

Marlini Ismail
Marlini Ismail8 years ago

i have since believed in breastfeeding when a mentor who nursed all her 8kids!! without the side of any solid food even after their 6mths!! and my, believe me, her kids are so far healthy and gets back to track faster even if they caught a flu... and apart from this, i have two ceasarian birth and breastfeeding really helps me to get better faster & safer... all the best to all moms..

Elle Smith F.
Elle Fagan8 years ago

the plastic bottles with the bag liners were the big innovation when mine were infants - the little plastic bags kept air out more reliably, and so kept the experience closer to nature.
By the time my late husband's chem wizzes got into it, mine were done with bottles, but he said that glass is always better, because of the thing you mention - it does not leach anything into the milk.

We were fortunate to get the folic acid and lamaze natural childbirth, but there is so much more.

Congratulations go to today's parents, who have been able to pick up on both sides of modern marvels, and more effectively enhance, upgrade and yet , protect.

elle fagan

Kirsten G.
Kirsten G8 years ago

I'm sorry for the repeated comments, I don't know why that happened, but didn't mean to spam. Is there a way to delete them? Michelle, I'm really sorry your sister didn't get appropriate help. When you have mastitis, stopping breastfeeding actually makes it worse, and many antibiotics are perfectly compatible with breastfeeding, but most medical professionals don't have that information and base their advice on the CYA statements the pharmaceutical companies use because they haven't researched it. There is a great book by a pharmacist professor Dr. Tom Hale called Medications and Mother's Milk which can give more accurate info, but most pharmacies, and most docs and nurses don't have much lactation training, and don't realize there is better information available. There are very few, rare physiological reasons why women can't breastfeed, but there are huge social/cultural barriers to breastfeeding and Tons of horrible medical advice. We need to be sympathetic and supportive of mothers who run up against that, while also doing a lot more to combat the bad information, the lack of support and the general devaluing of caregiving work that exists in this society.

Kirsten G.
Kirsten G8 years ago

Breastfeeding isn't best. Breastfeeding is the physiologically NORMAL way to feed an infant and small child. Medical interventions at birth, inadequate information and support and inadequate parental leave policies in the US make this incredibly difficult, but that doesn't change our biology. When breastfeeding mothers need to supplement, every alternative is better than bottles. Bottles are an extreme intervention that undermines breastfeeding significantly. A nursing supplementer at the breast, a cup, a syringe, finger feeding are all better than bottles. Bottles need to be considered a last resort, not a ubiquitous baby tool.

Kim Wilkinson-davies

Please beware of (excuse the pun) throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Plastic bottles, which are BPA-free, or have allowably-low levels of BPA are still better than glass bottles as these have been found to attract the immune-boosting bits from breastmilk and that defeats the whole purpose of expressing. Please do your research in this, lots of mothers' sites will have more info about it

Michelle F.
Michelle F8 years ago


Please realize that nursing doesn't work out for everyone. My sister has to stop because she got a horrible case of mastitus, and had to take antibiotics for ten days, during which time she couldn't nurse. By the time she was off the antibitoics, my nephew was so used to the bottle that he wouldn't take the breat anymore. This is just one case, and there are many other legitimate reasons why woman cannot breasfeed. Also, I agree with Jessica - whether a mother chooses to breastfeed or not doesn't change the love she feels for her children.

Jessica S.
Jessica S8 years ago

A mother's love is unconditional Nikolas, my mother bottle fed me because she needed to go back to work. We have an extremely close relationship, to the point my friends envy it. In today's society having a milk nurse is not accepted ( Did you see the uproar over Salma Hayeck?) and so many mothers will shy away from this. Do not be judgmental my friend it shows a lack of enlightenment.

Nikolas Karman
Nikolas K8 years ago

I'm sorry to say there is no second best, that's why our ancestors used another mother to help out if required.
If a mother really loved her child it would never consider anything less than breasts. To do so is to pander to multinational media marketing.