Dr. Brown has been in the baby bottle scene since 1996 and is best known for reducing gas, colic, spit-up, and fussiness, due to its revolutionary venting system. It is also said to help preserve the natural vitamins in the milk.
Choosing the right baby bottle is not to be overlooked. Many parents have to go through the a few trial-and-errors before finding the right bottle for their baby, while the luckier ones may receive a good recommendation or gift from their friends or family.
So let us share with you our all-time favorite – Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottles!
You may have realized that there are 2 main types of Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottles. The ones with BLUE inserts are the Original Bottles, while the ones with GREEN inserts are the Options Plus Bottles (a newer version of the Options bottles).
What Are The Problems with Traditional Baby Bottles?
There are 2 major issues with babies feeding from the traditional bottles – vacuum, and ingestion of air bubbles.
In the case of normal non-vented bottles, a vacuum tends to develop as the baby sucks harder progressively to draw the liquid out.
As the vacuum increases, air enters the bottle through the weakened nipple seal and aerates the milk.
These air bubbles get swallowed into the baby’s stomach, causing discomfort, gas-related pain, fussiness, colic, and spit up.
The vacuum or negative pressure in the bottle/at the mouth is also transmitted to the middle ear, which can lead to fluid build-up and increases the risk of middle ear infection.
How Do Dr Brown Baby Bottles Work?
Dr Brown’s Natural Flow Bottles are designed to reduce colic and gas, to reduce the risk of middle ear infection due to bottle feeding, and also to preserve nutrients in the milk.
The key to eliminating the air bubbles and negative pressure lies in its patented 2-piece internal vent system.
The vent system looks like a straw inside the bottle extending to the end of the bottle and a round insert at the top of the bottle.
As your baby feeds, air is directed from the nipple collar (instead of the nipple) through the straw-like vent system, bypassing the milk to the end of the bottle (above the milk). The possibility of ingesting air into their tummies is greatly reduced, because air bubble formation is prevented from the beginning!
As a result, there are less associated problems of gas-related stomach pain, spitting up, and colic. It’s also easier for the baby to burp after feeding.
The internal venting system creates a positive-pressure air flow (instead of the vacuum buildup in the traditional bottles), which prevents nipple collapse.
This provides a more comfortable feeding experience that also resembles breastfeeding more closely. This makes it easier for babies to transition from breast to bottle feeding.
Oxidation is also minimized as the air bypasses the milk, hence preserving natural nutrients like vitamin C, A and E.
Dr Brown’s Options vs Options Plus
Dr Brown’s Options Plus is the improved and upgraded version of the Options bottles, introduced in 2019. The internal vent system of both versions are green.
Enhancements have been made to the internal vent system, collar and cap. New breast-like nipples are also introduced for the wide neck Options Plus bottles.
What is the Difference Between the Dr. Brown’s Original and Options Bottles?
The Dr. Brown’s Options Bottle is a newer version that allows you to use the bottle with or without the vent system. This flexibility is a big advantage.
The vent system is extremely useful for newborns and smaller babies who typically swallow a lot of air and get gassy afterwards.
However, as they grow older into mature feeders, they have less problems with gas and the vent system is not really a necessity anymore.
Other new features in the Dr Brown Options Bottles include a new lid design with a better and clearer markings on the bottle.
Can I Use Dr Brown Bottles Without Vent?
With the Dr. Brown’s Original bottles, you CANNOT use the bottle without the vent system as it will leak profusely. So even when your baby has outgrown the need for the venting system, you’ll still need to deal with the assembling, dissembling, and cleaning of the additional parts.
However, with the new Dr Brown’s Options Bottles, you CAN use it without the inserts so the bottles can really grow with your child. It can be turned from a fully vented bottle to a convenient simple bottle, saving you money and time.
How to Put Together Dr Browns Bottles?
Here’s a simple schematic to show you how to put together the Dr. Brown’s bottles venting system. It is not too difficult to assemble the venting system after getting used to it. But you definitely have more parts to put together in the middle of the night…
What Can I Do If I’ve Lost a Part of the Venting System?
If you happened to misplace a bottle part, you can purchase replacement parts separately. You don’t have to worry that the entire bottle will be rendered useless or having to purchase a brand new set.
When purchasing replacement parts, do be careful as the venting systems of the Dr. Brown’s Options+ Bottles and Original Bottles are not inter-changeable.
What Are the Cons of Dr. Brown’s Baby Bottles?
The most common complaints among the moms is having additional pieces to clean up. Besides the bottle itself, there are 5 additional components to wash.
What I like is that when you purchase the Dr Brown’s bottles, it comes with a small cleaning brush to help you clean the vents.
Washing can be more of a pain compared to a standard simple bottle, but this is a small price to pay for a happier baby.
You’d be pleased to know that all the bottle parts are dishwasher safe so you can pop them into the dishwasher if your dishwasher has the sanitizing cycle option.
Are Dr. Brown’s Bottles Glass or Plastics?
The answer is both.
Unfortunately, the Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Standard Glass Bottles are being discontinued. But you can still find the 4 Oz and 8 Oz Original Glass Bottles on Amazon while stocks last.
Dr. Brown’s Original bottles are now only available in BPA-free polypropylene plastic.
Dr Browns Options bottles are available in BPA-free plastic and Glass for both wide and standard narrow neck versions.
Personally, I’ve always preferred glass materials over plastics.
Here’s the Pros and Cons of Using Glass Baby Bottles:
- Free of harmful chemicals
You need not worry about chemicals leeching from the glass bottles, even if you heat up the bottles to high temperatures during the sanitizing cycle of your dishwasher.
- Easier to clean and more durable
I find glass bottles easier to clean thoroughly compared to plastic bottles. Over time, plastic baby bottles tend to appear cloudy and are more likely to develop scratches. These scratches (even if they are minute) can retain residual milk and odors, and allow for bacterial growth.
Hence, plastic baby bottles should be replaced when they are scratched. Glass bottles, on the other hand, can last for years and can be handed down to multiple children.
- Taste better
Similar to drinking hot tea or milk from glass mugs vs plastic cups, I always find that glass retains the purity of taste better. Odors and flavors tend to be absorbed and mixed in into the plastic bottles.
- Compatible with common breast pumps
Similar to the Dr. Brown’s plastic bottles, you can pump directly into the Dr. Brown’s glass bottles as the designs of the bottles are identical.
It may not be so much of an issue when you’re feeding your young baby. However when he/she is old enough to self-feed, it is definitely more difficult for your baby to hold onto the glass bottle himself/herself.
The glass bottles also certainly add a lot of weight to your diaper bag when you’re traveling.
You can still pump directly into the glass bottles but the weight may make it not so comfortable after some time.
Moreover, there’s the worry about breaking the glass bottles and hurting your little one. To mitigate that, you can purchase the protective sillicone sleeves for the glass bottles so that they don’t break so easily when they’re accidentally dropped.
Plastic baby bottles, on the other hand, is shatterproof so you do not have to worry about your baby breaking the infant bottle when feeding himself/herself. They are also cheaper, lightweight, and easier to carry around.
Dr Brown Wide Neck vs Standard Bottles – Which to Choose?
Both Original Bottles and the Options Plus Plastic Bottles come in both wide neck and the standard narrow neck versions.
The wide neck version has a larger diameter and features slightly curved bottles to make it easier to hold. Both standard neck bottles and wide neck bottles are also available in 2 sizes.
If your baby is transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, it might be useful to start with the wide neck bottles due to its unique nipple shape. The nipple has a broader base and bears a closer resemblance to a mom’s breast, which could help prevent ‘nipple confusion’.
On the other hand, the standard narrow neck bottles will be easier for an older baby to hold onto the bottle himself/herself to self-feed.
While this is a general guideline, ultimately it really depends on the individual baby’s preference.
Can Dr Brown’s Bottles be Used with Medela Pump?
This is a very common question among new nursing moms.
While the Dr. Brown’s brand has its own manual breast pump, the Medela breast pump is probably the ‘go-to’ breast pump in the market. Hence, many moms are considering, or already using the Medela pumps with Dr. Brown’s bottles for their anti-colic features.
The good news is that you can pump direct into the Dr. Brown’s standard narrow neck bottles (both plastic and glass), helping you save time and having less things to wash. If you’re using the wide neck bottles, you’ll need a Born Free Bottle Adaptor.
Here’s a pretty comprehensive chart on breast pump bottles compatibility: https://www.theglassbabybottle.com/info_BREASTPUMP.shtml
Which Dr Brown’s Nipple Level Should I Use?
Dr. Brown’s bottle nipples are made of clear medical-grade silicone. They are available in several speeds (or flow-rates) to accommodate babies of different ages and feeding development.
As a general guideline, you can change the nipple levels according to the following schedule. Do pay attention to your child’s feeding to adapt the nipple selection.
- Level 1: 0-3 months
- Level 2: 3-6 months
- Level 3: 6-9 months
- Level 4: Older babies or more aggressive feeders
- Y-cut: Faster flow for thicker liquids or older babies.
Preemie and ultra-preemie are also available for pre-mature and medically fragile babies.
How to Warm A Dr. Brown’s Bottle?
First, heat up a pot of water and turn off the fire. Do not use boiling water, especially if you’re using plastic bottles, and also to avoid overheating.
Warm the baby bottles by placing them into the pot of warm water. This ensures that the milk are warmed evenly and safely.
If your budget allows, you can also consider investing a bottle warmer as that can be especially helpful for middle-of-the-night feedings. The Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Warmer, is a great bottle warmer for formula milk as it heats up the bottles easily and quickly. However, if you are warming expressed breast milk, we would recommend a more gentle low temperature water bath type of bottle warmer to preserve the nutrients in the breast milk. Check out our reviews of the best baby bottle warmer for breast milk.
Do the Dr Brown’s Baby Bottles Leak?
For the most parts, I find these bottles leak minimally. Usually a quick opening and adjusting or tightening of the internal pieces will stop the leaking effectively.
However, I do see a number of customer complaints about their bottles leaking. Very often, it’s a result of user error. Leakage occurs when liquid flows out through the vents.
It is important to make sure that you are putting the bottle parts together properly and have not overlooked the following to prevent bottle leaking.
During bottle preparation,
- Ensure that the vent insert and reservoir tube are assembled tightly.
- Remove the vent system when warming the milk/bottle and avoid overheating. When heated, air in the bottle expands and pushes the fluid up the tube of the venting system, hence causing the milk to leak from the vents.
- Do not over-tighten the nipple collar, especially during heating, as it will create a pressure build-up.
- Do not shake the bottle in an up-and-down manner when mixing the formula milk because the milk might enter the vent system. Moreover, shaking the bottle in itself is not good for gas and colic as it introduces air into the milk. Instead, stir the formula and water gently with a spoon.
- Never to overfill the bottle above the fill line marked on the bottle.
- Hold the feeding bottle at a 45 degree angle to ensure that the opening at the bottom of the venting tube is not covered by liquid.
- Keep bottles upright during transport.
- Change to a travel cap if you’re traveling as it can seal the bottle and prevent leaks. However, you’ll need to keep the rest of the set-up separately (the vent assembly, nipple, nipple collar, and the normal lid) and switch it up just before feeding.
- Alternatively, you can place the travel disk, which is a round-shaped insert, between the nipple and vent insert. However, I find this more cumbersome as you need to remove the disk just before feeding and it may be stuck at times. It’s also easy to misplace the discs.
Another suggestion is to try moving up to the next nipple level.
If your bottles continue to leak despite the troubleshooting efforts described above, I’ll advise you to contact their customer service.
Most customers are pleased with the excellent customer support. The team at Dr Brown care about their customers and are very keen to learn about any problems with their products and implement potential improvements, so they will gladly help you to troubleshoot and also send you new parts if necessary.
Which Dr. Brown’s Bottles Should I Buy?
Dr. Brown’s baby bottles come in such a wide range of varieties and combinations that it may seem confusing at first glance.
Personally, I like Dr Brown Options+ Bottles for the added flexibility but I do notice that there appears to be more complaints about leakage in the Options bottles compared to the Original bottles.
Here’s a summary of the variations available:
|Dr. Brown’s Options Baby Bottles|
- Available in 5 Ounce and 9 Ounce
- Available in 4 Ounce and 8 Ounce
- Available in 5 Ounce and 9 Ounce
|Dr. Brown's Breastfeeding Baby Bottles Feeding Set|
4x 5Oz Plastic Wide Neck Options+ bottles
4x Preemie Flow (Slowest Flow) Wide-Neck Nipples for slow pace feeding
4x Level 1 (Slow Flow) Wide-Neck Nipples
4x Storage Travel Caps to pump and store breast milk
- Available in 2, 4 Ounce and 8 Ounce
|Dr. Brown's Options+ Baby Bottles Gift Set|
- Comes in Blue and Pink
3x 4 oz and 3x 8oz Dr. Brown’s Options+ Bottles,
6x Level 1, 2x Level 2, 2x Level 3 Nipples
2x Storage Caps,
Pink Bottle Brush
6 ozSoft-spout Transition Cup
If you are a new mom, hopefully our Dr brown baby bottles reviews have brought you to a fruitful end in your search of the right baby bottle.
P.S. They also make a perfect baby shower gift for your nursing mom friends!