Is a BPA-free bottle really safe?
BPA-free doesn't always mean exactly what you think
Are you trying to get your baby to take a bottle? We know the struggle. And, while we don't want to make the process any more difficult, we have some tips for using healthier and safer baby bottles for your little one.
First off, we know plastic baby bottle are convenient and cheap. You can buy them everywhere, they don't weigh a lot, and when baby throws them (because they will) you don't have to worry about them breaking or making a huge amount of noise. And, pretty much all of them have a sticker now saying BPA-free. That has to be good, right?
Well, yes and no. Being BPA free is great. BPA has been shown to be associated with disrupted hormone activity (leading to things later in life like breast cancer, reduced sperm production, and weight gain) and ADHD. But, since 2012 using BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups has been banned by the U.S. FDA. So, why is this a thing we are even talking about?
While BPA isn't in baby bottles any more, it is often replaced with very similar chemicals with different acronyms (like BPS and BPF) in order to make the plastic hard and clear. These chemicals are being shown to have similar health effects to BPA. So just because a bottle says BPA free, does not mean it's free from harmful chemicals. So tricky, eh?
BPA, and its replacements cause these health problems by leaching into things that it touches. So, when milk is in the bottle, some of the chemicals from the bottle start to seep into the milk. Then, when your baby drinks the milk, they are also drinking those chemicals. BPA, and its replacements, are much better at seeping into food or milk when the container is heated up or when what's inside the container is fatty or acidic. Because babies often drink warm, fatty milk, it's the perfect storm for absorbing those chemicals.
So, to help you navigate this whole baby bottle situation, we have some tips.
- If your baby is having a hard time taking a bottle, try all the nipples and brands and don't sweat the plastic. First and foremost, for your sanity and your baby's happiness, find one that works for your baby. After they are comfortable with a bottle, then try switching to a stainless steel or glass bottle.
- Some brands of nipples are interchangeable, so you can try to put your child's prefered nipples on a stainless steel or glass bottle. There are even sites where you can look up nipple and bottle compatibility.
- Ask other parents if you can try their stainless steel or glass bottles for a day or two before you buy one. Or, if you are willing to commit, check out our roundup too.
- If you're sticking with plastic bottles, heat up the milk in a separate glass or stainless steel container in the bottle warmer or under hot water, then transfer to the plastic bottle for feeding.
- Also, if you're going to stick with plastic, try to go with #2 or #5, or plastic that is cloudy in color because they are less likely to contain BPA and its replacements.
- Throw away scratched and old plastic bottles. Plastic with scratches is more likely to leach chemicals into the milk because there is more surface area and the integrity of the plastic is ruined. Because of this, it's probably not a good idea to use hand me down bottles. Sorry!
- Other things that can cause higher rates of leaching are UV light (like from the sun) and moist hot environments. So, do your best to keep baby bottles from sitting out in the sun, and try to wash your bottles by hand (or in the dishwasher if they say they are dishwasher safe) instead of using a UV light.
- As a last ditch effort, if you have friends or family living in Europe, ask them about popular glass and stainless steel baby bottles because different brands and kinds are available there. You may be able to order them online or maybe you have a very nice friend or family member who would be willing to ship them or bring them when they visit.
Best of luck!