A Review of Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottles

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We love Dr. Brown’s bottles, and we use them exclusively in our household. We started with Avent bottles after having our daughter, but she soon developed gas problems. A family member suggested that we try Dr. Brown’s bottles, so we did. And we have never looked back.

Dr. Brown’s bottles reduce gas, fight colic, discourage ear infections, and make life easier for everyone. The vent technology provides a comfortable, positive feeding experience for the baby, and our daughter loves the bottles. We highly recommend these bottles for babies with gas troubles, feeding problems, or a tendency to spill and sputter milk.


The Good

Decreases Gas and Fights Colic

Crying. Loud, inconsolable, unending crying.

Colic refers to miserable babies that just won’t stop crying. The screaming can raise household tensions,interrupt sleep, and make parents just as miserable as the infant. And one of the big causes of colic is gas. Gas can make babies cry, and crying can actually cause more gas problems for infants due to an increase in air intake. It’s a terrible, negative cycle. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Dr. Brown’s natural flow bottles discourage infants from swallowing air, and one of the main causes of infant gas is swallowed air. As the baby sucks down breast milk or formula, air is often taken in. And this is exactly what Dr. Brown’s gas-reducing bottles discourage, which means less discomfort for your baby. As the baby feeds, air is channeled from the nipple collar through the vent system to the back of the bottle. Thus, the baby never ingests the air bubbles, and infant gas is eliminated before it ever reaches your baby’s tummy.

Because of the patented vented system, Dr. Brown’s bottles are some of the best anti-colic baby bottles you can find. These bottles mean less tears, less tummy aches, and a happier baby. For some parents, this is reason enough to choose vented bottles. After all, a happier baby means a happier parent.

Discourages Ear Infections

Otitis media (OM) is the medical term for a middle ear infection. Infections of the middle ear can happen to anyone, but little children suffer with these infections more than anyone else. In fact, middle ear infections are the number one reason that babies under a year old are taken to the doctor.

These middle ear infections often occur because fluid gets trapped in the ear. Breast milk or formula can act as a culture in which bacteria can grow. So when milk or formula gets trapped in the inner ear, the bacteria that causes middle ear infections has the opportunity to grow. And unfortunately, babies have smaller, more level Eustachian tubes in their ears than adults do, which means that fluid is trapped easily in a baby’s eat.

When air pockets reach a bottle nipple, a vacuum is created. That vacuum can cause fluid to squirt out onto a babies cheeks as the baby feeds. That fluid can then run down into the baby’s ear, which is exactly what you do not want. Allowing fluid to reach your baby’s ear is just asking for an infection.

Thankfully, Dr. Brown’s bottles discourage ear infections by helping to prevent fluid from escaping the bottle in undesirable ways. Dr. Brown’s bottles vent air away from the nipple to the back of the bottle, reducing the fluid splatter during feeding. Thus, the bottles discourage middle ear infections. If the fluid never reaches your baby’s ears, it can’t get trapped, and no ear infection develops.

Similar to Breastfeeding

In order to eliminate the air vacuums responsible for so much gas and trapped fluid, Dr. Brown’s bottles create a positive-pressure flow (with more pressure inside the nipple than outside). That flow prevents nipple collapse and provides your baby with a comfortable feeding experience that is similar to breastfeeding. This is something that many mothers find useful if they need to transition from the breast to bottle (perhaps because of a return to work). Babies tend to find Dr. Brown’s bottles similar enough to the breast that the transition is easy. 


Nipple Options

The Dr. Brown’s newborn feeding set comes with two sets of nipples: level 1 and level 2. The level 1 nipples force the fluid inside the baby bottle to flow slowly. And the level 2 nipples allow for a slightly faster flow. This provides parents with some options; you can adjust according to how your baby feeds.

If your baby tends to gag, sputter, or leak milk while feeding, then you should probably be using the level 1 nipple for slower flow. The slower flow will regulate your baby’s fluid intake so that feeding is an easier experience for both you and your child.

If you are mixing your baby’s milk or formula with a thickening agent, or if you are using a thick anti-reflux formula, then you may want to consider using the level 2 nipple. This will allow for a faster flow of the fluid during feeding. Thicker fluids can get stuck in the level 1 nipples, which can be frustrating.

You may also consider using a level 2 nipple if your baby seems to get “bored” during feeding or loses interest in the task. This could be an indicator that your baby is ready to move to a faster flow rate. The same is also true with frustration; if your baby seems frustrated with the slowness feeding, you may want to consider the level 2 nipple.

Though not included in the newborn feeding set, you can also purchase even faster flow nipples for your baby. Preemie flow nipples are also available.

No matter which nipple you use, be sure that your baby’s lips form a good seal around the nipple. This technique will further reduce air intake (and help eliminate gas!). You want your infant’s lips to be at the base of the nipple, not just the tip. Also make sure that your baby’s head is higher than his/her stomach.

NOTE: Dr. Brown's also offers wide nipples for the wide bottles. Some say that the wider nipples are preferred by babies because they feel more like a breast. However, we found that our daughter preferred the standard nipples. For that reason we have focused our review on the standard-shaped bottles, but the wide are available on Amazon if you are interested.


Preserves Vitamins and Nutrients

Another benefit of Dr. Brown’s innovative vent system is that when air never mixes with the breast milk of fluid, oxidation is not allowed to occur. oxidation reduces helpful vitamins and lipids from milk, which is why it should be avoided if possible. Thus, by eliminating the oxidation, Dr. Brown’s bottles help maintain vitamins, A, C, and E. In addition, the lack of oxidation helps preserve lipids, the good fats that your baby needs.

This claim was confirmed in a scientific 2008 university study on bottles. Dr. Brown’s bottles were tested by researchers, and the results were that Dr. Brown’s vent technology makes a significant, positive difference. Babies who use Dr. Brown’s vented bottles are more likely to take in certain key nutrients than babies who use other brands.


Other Benefits

The bottle are:

  • BPA (Bisphenol-A) free 
  • lead free
  • phthalate free
  • dishwasher safe
  • made in the USA

The storage caps also make the bottles easy to put into a diaper bag when you are on the go, and they fit the bottles well. You can tell the caps are on correctly because of a tight “pop,” which we think is nice.

And you can pump milk directly into these bottles if you desire.

The Bad

Washing these bottles can be a bit of a pain. Dr. Brown’s bottles have five parts instead of the normal three because of the vent, which does make washing take a few minutes longer. It also means the bottles can take a few seconds longer to prepare, which can be frustrating when you are trying to get food for your screaming baby. 

Another small problem we encountered was that when we (and by “we” we mean “Blake”) sometimes screwed the bottle lids on too tight, which resulted in liquid leaking out the sides of the bottle. This problem is easily avoided though by not screwing the lid any more if you feel significant resistance.

Bottom Line

Dr. Brown’s bottles are wonderful. They reduce gas, colic, and ear infections while maintaining nutrients. They are not difficult to use, and they make the lives of both babies and parents better. Washing can be a bit of a pain, but this is a small price to pay for having such good bottles. We use Dr. Brown’s bottles with our baby, and we are very happy customers. 

Dr. Brown’s Newborn bottles can be purchased here