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Doctors weigh in on the glass vs plastic baby bottles debate

With all the concerns around chemicals in plastics, it’s natural to wonder if anything from a plastic baby bottle might leech into your baby’s milk. Thankfully, baby bottles are regulated and the FDA prohibits BPA in plastic baby bottles. Even so, it’s impossible to fully know the effects of every single compound in plastics.

Your baby’s bottle is an important purchase and it’s worth looking into all options for health and convenience concerns. There are trade-offs to consider with each. Here are the pros and cons of glass vs plastic baby bottles.

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Plastic baby bottles

Plastic baby bottles are lightweight, unbreakable, and easy to find, making them the more convenient and practical choice. A baby will be able to hold a plastic bottle on their own as they get older, and you can feel secure taking them out of the house and on travel without worrying about them shattering. They’re also more affordable than glass bottles.

Any plastic bottles manufactured since 2012 don’t contain BPA, and the FDA regulates plastic baby bottles to make sure they are safe. Dr. Janice Heard, a pediatrician, says, “These days, parents don’t need to be concerned about the quality of the plastic that they’re using for baby bottles.”

Dr. William Mudd, a Cleveland Clinic pediatrician, says that “Even a BPA-free plastic bottle has some risk, but you can take steps to limit risk as much as possible.” He recommends not using the dishwasher or other very high temperatures since compounds can be released in very hot temperatures. You can also store milk in glass and transfer it to a plastic bottle only when it’s time for a feeding. Avoid shaking the bottle since that could release microplastics into the milk.

A study published in October 2020 in Nature Food showed that microplastics are released from plastic baby bottles over time. However, one of the study authors, Professor John Boland, says “There is no evidence of any adverse outcomes from exposure to these plastics,” but “if you’re super concerned about it, then you should use glass bottles.”

One small concern with plastic bottles is that they might pick up flavors or smells over time since they absorb more than glass. Plastic can also get small scratches in it and bacteria could collect in that dent. On the other hand, since they are much less likely to break they may last longer than glass bottles despite the possibility of scratches, absorption, and warping.

baby bottle feeding
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Cons of glass baby bottles

Glass baby bottles have some obvious cons: they could drop and break, which could injure your baby or you. They’re also heavy, which is uncomfortable for you and also means your baby won’t be able to give themself a bottle. Not only will they not be strong enough to lift it, but it could hurt them either from the weight or from shattering glass if they did drop it.

Bringing them around in the diaper bag or on a plane is trickier for the same reason of the chance of shattering and being heavy. They’re also less readily available and more expensive than plastic bottles. However, they are more environmentally friendly and are safe to use in the dishwasher without any risk of warping or releasing any chemicals or microplastics. They’re generally easier to clean since they can be sanitized at even higher temperatures than plastics, and they are not as prone to scratches.

If you are concerned about plastic bottles despite FDA regulations, glass bottles may give you peace of mind.

Glass vs plastic baby bottles: Which is better?

Clearly, both options have both pros and cons. It’s all about balancing small risks with other factors.

“Parents should be aware of the potential risks of plastic, but there’s no reason to be overly anxious,” Dr. Mudd says. “There are always some risks in life. As parents, we just have to do our best to minimize them.”

He continued: “The nutrition your child gets throughout childhood is likely much more important than what kind of bottle you use.” In other words, try not to overthink the decision. There is no choice we make as parents without some risk, but moms and dads don’t need to be overly concerned with the small risks of using convenient plastic bottles.

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