Choosing a baby bottle should be a simple decision to make, but with so much choice available today, sometimes it seems like it’s anything but simple.
One fundamental question many parents have is whether to use a glass bottle or plastic baby bottles. So in this article, we will explore the pros and cons of each and help guide you in your own decision-making process.
Pros and Cons of Glass Baby Bottles
Glass baby bottles are considered a more traditional option by many individuals. Even so, the reality is that glass still has a variety of advantages over modern plastic designs.
Glass Bottles Pros
One of the main advantages of using glass bottles for baby feeding is that they are free from potentially harmful chemicals. Chemicals found in plastics have been met with controversy in recent years and even though the likes of bisphenol A-based epoxy (BPA) resins have been prohibited in new plastic bottles, many lost trust in plastics altogether.
Easier to Clean
In general, it appears glass feeding bottles are much easier to clean than the plastic variety. During both the manufacturing process and thorough cleaning and plastic bottles can develop scratches in their interior, which allow formula residues to become trapped and more difficult to remove (1).
Glass bottles do not suffer from the same odor complaints that are common amongst many of the plastic variety. Many plastics have their own characteristic and often unpleasant odor and since the scratches in plastic have a tendency to trap things, odors from a previous feed can linger even after cleaning.
When it comes to 100% glass bottles, they are able to be recycled again and again without losing quality. The same can’t be said for many plastics that can be difficult to recycle and end up in landfills, comments green thinker Antonia Ko from the “Zero waste, EscapeWaste.com!” initiative. Of course, glass bottles can still end up in landfills, but as they degrade, they won’t leach harmful chemicals into the environment, as I the case with many plastics (2).
Glass Bottles Cons
Cumbersome for Kids
Although glass bottles are much lighter than the thicker variety of yesteryear, they can be still quite heavy, making them difficult for many babies to keep hold of. This additional weight can also make them less ideal for taking on a trip.
Chance of Breaking
Many glass bottles today are made to be shatterproof and can withstand a hell of a lot of force. Personally, I have never had any issues or experienced any breaks, yet obviously, it’s definitely possible to break the glass. For this reason, many people stay away from glass baby bottles, especially if they have a baby who loves nothing more than throwing things.
As a general rule, glass baby bottles are more expensive to purchase than plastic bottles. This is probably related to the increased cost of materials and differences in the production process.
Pros and Cons of Plastic Baby Bottles
Plastic bottles are a relatively modern invention that in many ways revolutionized the way we feed our babies. Yet, like glass bottles, it’s not all good news and there are a number of disadvantages to bear in mind.
Plastic Bottles Pros
Plastic bottles are typically much lighter than glass bottles. This quality is often preferred as it makes it easier for babies to hold the bottle on their own. It also makes them easier pop in the backpack and take on your travels.
Compared to glass, plastic bottles won’t shatter and are much less likely to break from drops or being thrown around the room. This is a definite advantage as little babies tend to love being mischevious.
Easy to Use
A common issue with glass is that it’s often not completely transparent, which can make it difficult to measure the amount of formula and check whether it is filled correctly.
In general, you will find that plastic baby bottles are cheaper than their glass alternatives. This makes them a great option for those with limited budgets, or simply those people (like me) that want maximum value for money.
Plastic Bottles Cons
Difficult to Clean
As previously mentioned plastics have a tendency to develop scratches as a consequence of cleaning or the production process. These scratches are able to collect formula residues that are often difficult to clean and can be the target of colonization by bacteria and other microorganisms.
Unlike glass, some plastics can release chemicals as they degrade and are heated. In recent years BPA was banned from plastic containers, yet there are other potential chemicals that may pose a risk. In particular, one study highlighted the prevalence of estrogenic chemicals being released by many commercially available plastics (3).
Estrogenic chemicals are defined as chemicals that have the ability to exacerbate or mimic naturally occurring estrogen. This does not mean all plastic baby bottles contain or leach harmful chemicals, but it’s certainly something to bear in mind.
Plastic baby bottles have a reputation for allowing odors to linger, even after cleaning. For this reason, you will probably find yourself having to clean them repeatedly and even make use of deodorizing products.
Unlike glass, plastics are generally softer meaning they will not be able to withstand as much wear and tear. Even the safest plastic baby bottles will begin to look very worn and will need to be replaced more often than a glass bottle would.
Stainless Steel Baby Bottles
A completely alternative option is to feed your baby using a bottle made from neither glass or plastic. Instead, you can opt for one made from an extremely durable metal like stainless steel.
Stainless steel baby bottles have the benefits of being extremely easy to clean as they are scratch resistant and can be heated up to high temperatures without causing them any damage. Being a metal also makes them extremely durable, so they are likely to last you a very long time and withstand being thrown around by your little one.
Unfortunately, stainless steel bottles are not the most affordable option, but in my opinion, they are certainly worth it as they are likely to stand the test of time. Compare this to the plastic variety that wears down relatively quickly.
Another downside is that you can’t see their contents, which makes measuring formula difficult and keeping track of your babies feeds a little more time-consuming.
The Bottom Line
There are many great baby bottles available today, both glass and plastic and the ultimate decision comes down to personal preference.
Even so, you may take on board all of the information and make an informed choice, yet your baby may still prefer a certain type of bottle. For this reason alone, it’s best to try out a variety of bottles at first and see how your baby responds.
From then on you can continue to buy the best bottle that they actually like using, whether it be plastic or glass.
What about you? Which bottle is best for babies? Do you prefer plastic or glass baby bottles? Leave your comments below as I’d like to hear your opinion on the matter.