How to Choose the Safest Bottles and Dishes for Baby

Bottles and Milk Storage

The subject of BPA and baby bottles has been in the news a lot lately.  BPA, or Bisphenol-A, is a synthetic estrogen used to harden polycarbonate plastics.  It has been linked to disruption of the endocrine system, abnormalities in the reproductive system, cancer, damage to the cardiovascular system, early puberty, obesity, resistance to chemotherapy and more.  Studies have shown that almost all of us have BPA in our systems.

In light of the dangers of BPA, more and more companies are pledging to reduce or eliminate their use of BPA in baby bottles, toys and more.  However, BPA is still out there and it isn’t always clear which products have BPA and which do not.  Not all products have the little plastic identifier (in the form of a number inside  triangle).  But if you can find the number, avoid number 7 which usually has BPA as well as numbers 3 and 6, which can have highly toxic dioxins, phthalates and styrene.

baby with bowl and spoon organic baby food glass bottles

Although there are BPA-free plastic bottles and sippy cups, your best bet is to avoid plastic altogether because all plastics have some toxins and no plastic is environmentally friendly (see article about Plastics).  If you do use plastic bottles, never heat them with liquid in them as heating increases leaching of toxic chemicals.  Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives to plastic and the options are growing as awareness about plastics increases.  With respect to baby bottles, try glass and silicone alternatives.  There are also silicone sleeves that go around glass bottles to reduce breakage and make them easier to hold.  For your toddler, the best alternative to plastic sippy cups is stainless steel sippy cups and water bottles.  Avoid aluminum bottles because some have coatings that will not work with anything but water and that can contain harmful chemicals.  

Moms who need to pump and then store breastmilk in the fridge or freezer will want to store this precious liquid in the safest possible containers.  Freezing plastic can accelerate the leaching process so it is important to freeze breastmilk in glass bottles or ice cube trays made of silicone or stainless steel.  If you must use plastic, choose bags or bottles made from one of the safer plastics, such as numbers  1, 2, 4 or 5.

Dishes and Utensils

So you have trashed the plastic baby bottles and sippy cups.  But don’t forget about baby’s utensils and dishes.  Instead of plastic, choose bamboo or stainless steel spoons and forks.  There are even stainless steel spoons with silicone coatings to protect your baby’s delicate mouth.  And those plastic cartoon character dishes can easily be replaced with stainless steel or bamboo plates and bowls.  When your baby gets past the throwing stage, ceramic plates are always a great option.  Avoid the use of plastic bibs and placemats and choose cloth or silicone options instead.