How many bottles does a baby really need?

When preparing for a new baby, one of the many decisions parents face is how many bottles and nipples to purchase. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to determine just how many bottles you actually need. Understanding what types of bottles are available and how many of each type makes sense for your lifestyle will help you build the ideal bottle stash for your little one.

Quick Answers

  • Plan on having 6-8 bottles total
  • Buy different bottle types and see which your baby prefers
  • Prioritize bottles that are dishwasher and microwave safe
  • Have extra nipples on hand as spares
  • You’ll likely need more bottles as baby gets older and intake increases

Making sure you have enough bottles to meet your baby’s feeding needs without having to constantly wash bottles is key. But you also don’t want to go overboard and purchase more than you actually need. The ideal bottle count will depend on a few factors, including whether you’re exclusively formula feeding or breastfeeding, your baby’s appetite, and your own preferences for extra convenience.

Bottle and Nipple Types

Before stocking up on bottles, it’s helpful to understand the main options available. Here are the most common bottle and nipple types:

Standard Baby Bottles

These are the traditional straight-neck plastic bottles with disposable nipples that screw on. They are inexpensive and widely available. The nipples come in slow, medium, and fast flow rates. Many standard bottles are dishwasher and microwave safe for added convenience. Popular brands include Dr. Brown’s, Playtex, Evenflo, and Parent’s Choice.

Wide-Neck Bottles

Wide-neck bottles have a wider opening and use nipples that simply press into the top without threading on. This can make them easier to clean and load with formula or expressed breastmilk. However, the nipples are less secure and more prone to leaking. Wide-neck bottles are available from brands like Comotomo, Lifefactory, Medela, and Philips Avent.

Angled Bottles

Angled bottles have tilted necks that help prevent baby from ingesting too much air while feeding. They aim the nipple toward the middle of the tongue to encourage proper latching. Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow and Philips Avent Natural bottles have angled designs.

Glass Bottles

Glass baby bottles provide an eco-friendly alternative to plastic with a more classic look and feel. However, they are much heavier and can break if dropped. Lifefactory, Dr. Brown’s, and Evenflo make popular glass bottle options.

Silicone Bottles

Bottles made from soft, flexible silicone are lightweight and nearly unbreakable. They are also easy to clean and assemble. But silicone can absorb odors and stains over time. Popular options include Comotomo, NUK, and Olababy.

Vented Bottles

Vented bottles like Dr. Brown’s have internal vents that allow air to escape while feeding to help reduce colic, gas, and spit up. However, their parts require thorough cleaning.


In addition to different flow rates, bottle nipples come in varying materials like latex, silicone, and ultra-soft silicone. They can be sized from newborn to 6-12+ months for proper fit in your baby’s mouth. Most brands sell packs of extra nipples as replacements.

How Many Bottles for Exclusively Formula Feeding?

If you plan to use formula only, you will likely need a higher bottle count. Here are some guidelines for formula feeding:

  • Newborns: 6-8 bottles
  • 0-3 months: 8-10 bottles
  • 3-6 months: 10-12 bottles
  • 6+ months: 12-15 bottles

Having at least 8 bottles is recommended even when exclusively formula feeding a newborn. This allows you to have bottles always on hand for feedings every 2-3 hours without running the dishwasher multiple times per day.

As your baby gets older and starts consuming more formula per feeding, you may need up to 12 bottles so you have enough ready when hunger strikes. Having a variety of bottle sizes is handy too—smaller 2-4oz bottles for newborns and larger 8-10oz bottles for older babies who drink more at each feeding.

Aim to have at least 1-2 extra bottles beyond the number you use daily. This leaves you with clean spares when you inevitably find yourself without enough clean bottles in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.

Stock Up on Extras

Even when exclusively formula feeding, having a couple extra breastmilk-ready bottles on hand can provide flexibility. Your partner or grandparents may want to help with an occasional feeding. Some parents also like to pump and mix in breastmilk for its added immune benefits. So having a few extra wide-neck or angled bottles that work well for breastfed babies can be useful.

Having extras of your bottle nipples and caps is also smart so you can quickly swap out parts that get overused or damaged without being left bottle-less. Keeping extras streamlines the transition to the next nipple flow rate as your baby grows too.

How Many Bottles for Combination Feeding?

If you plan to both breastfeed and formula feed, you may need fewer total bottles. Here are some guidelines for combination feeding:

  • Newborns: 4-6 bottles
  • 0-3 months: 6-8 bottles
  • 3-6 months: 8-10 bottles
  • 6+ months: 10-12 bottles

Since your baby will get some feedings directly from the breast, you likely won’t need as many bottles on hand. Aim for at least 4 bottles for a newborn so you have enough for occasional pumped milk or formula feeds.

As your baby gets older and takes more bottles as you return to work or spend time apart, increase your bottle count. But you likely still need fewer than if formula feeding exclusively.

Having 8-10 bottles by the time your baby is 3 months old allows you to store pumped milk and have bottles ready for caregivers to use. Even if you breastfeed directly throughout infancy, consider having 10-12 bottles by 6 months for flexibility.

Choose Bottles for Pumped Milk

If combination feeding, prioritize purchasing wide-neck bottles, angled bottles, and vented bottles that prevent nipple confusion and allow easy pouring of breastmilk. Look for BPA-free bottles designed specifically for pumping and feeding breastmilk.

Having a mix of bottle types also allows you to experiment and see which your baby tolerates best if they do get picky between breast and bottle. This helps you find the right balance between count and bottle type.

Key Factors That Impact Needed Bottle Count

Along with how you plan to feed your baby, a few other factors impact how many bottles you actually require:

Bottle Washing and Sterilizing Process

Do you plan to wash bottles after each use? Run a daily dishwasher load? Or purchase a bottle sterilizer? Your cleanup routine dictates how long bottles are out of commission. If washing by hand or sterilizing after each use, you may need fewer total bottles. If taking a dishwasher approach, have more bottles so some are always clean.

Feeding Schedule

Is your baby on a predictable 3-hour feeding schedule or do they feed more on demand? Babies who snack frequently or cluster feed may need more bottles always on standby. Babies on a routine schedule may get by with fewer bottles washed at consistent times.

Additional Caregivers

Will grandparents, a nanny, or daycare provider also feed your baby bottles? The more people involved, the more bottles you may want so each caregiver has a ready supply. Don’t forget a bottle or two for the diaper bag too!

Travel Frequency

Do you travel often or take lots of day trips? Having enough bottles so you don’t have to wash while on the go can be convenient when traveling often.

Bottle Refusal

Some babies get picky about bottles over time, refusing certain shapes, sizes, or materials. Having duplicates of your baby’s preferred bottles ensures you have spares if they suddenly protest a type they used to accept.

Setting Up Your Bottle Stash

Ready to start assembling your bottle stash? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Buy multiple bottle types at first so you can experiment
  • Register for bottles so you get duplicates as gifts
  • Look for value packs that include extra nipples and caps
  • Get a bottle brush and drying rack for easy cleaning
  • Consider a bottle warmer and sterilizer if helpful
  • Have extra smaller and larger sizes for growth
  • Get bottles in different colors to keep track of ounces
  • Save your registry discount to buy more later as needed

Buying a starter bottle set or two with different brands is a smart way to try out your options. Many come with extra nipples and accessories. Don’t forget to add bottles to your registry as well so you get duplicates as gifts.

Investing in bottle cleaning tools like a sturdy bottle brush, drying rack, and dishwasher basket simplifies cleanup. And a bottle sterilizer or warmer can be useful too.

Have a range of bottle sizes to accommodate feedings and growth spurts. And consider buying transitional bottles when starting solids that adapt from milk to food. Having duplicates in stash means you can retire bottles your baby refuses and always have their preferred type clean and ready.

Sample Bottle Stash Shopping Lists

To make shopping for your bottle stash easier, here are some sample bottle counts based on feeding method:

Combination Feeding Newborn:

  • 3-4 wide-neck (Avent, Dr. Brown’s)
  • 2-3 angled (Dr. Brown’s, Philips Avent)
  • 2 standard (Evenflo)
  • 1-2 glass (Lifefactory)
  • 2-3 packs extra nipples
  • Bottle brush and drying rack

Formula Feeding 3 Month Old:

  • 6-8 standard (Dr. Brown’s, Playtex)
  • 2 wide-neck (Comotomo)
  • 2 4oz bottles
  • 4 8oz bottles
  • 2 10oz+ bottles
  • 3 extra nipples
  • Bottle warmer

Combination Feeding 6 Month Old:

  • 4 wide-neck (Lifefactory, Avent)
  • 2 angled (Dr. Brown’s)
  • 4 standard (Evenflo)
  • 2 glass (Philips)
  • 1 transitional (NUK)
  • 3 4oz, 3 8oz, 2 10oz
  • Dishwasher basket
  • Bottle drying rack

Frequently Asked Questions

Still trying to determine your ideal bottle count? Here are answers to some common bottle stash questions:

How many bottles come in a set?

This varies by brand, but most bottle sets include 3 to 6 bottles, along with nipples, caps, and sometimes bottle brushes. Dr. Brown’s, Philips Avent, and Playtex all sell popular multi-packs.

What if I’m unsure what bottle my baby will like?

It’s smart to register for and buy a couple different bottle options like angled, vented, standard, and wide-neck until you see what your baby tolerates best. Having a variety gives you flexibility.

Should I sterilize, wash by hand, or use the dishwasher?

For newborns especially, bottles are recommended to be sterilized or washed/boiled after each use. As baby gets older, moving toward the dishwasher or washing by hand is fine for most families. Do what works for your schedule and comfort level.

How many extra nipples should I have?

Plan to have at least 2-3 extra nipples per bottle type on hand so you can quickly replace any that get overused or damaged. Stocking up on extras makes transitioning flow rates easier too.

How do I warm bottles while out?

Portable bottle warmers that plug into car outlets or use batteries are great for travel and outings. Some diaper bags also have insulated bottle pockets to help retain warmth.

The Bottom Line

Finding the right bottle count for your baby takes some trial and error. But following the guidelines here based on feeding method is a great starting point. Have at least 6 bottles on hand for a newborn, then gradually increase your stash as your baby grows. And don’t forget extra nipples! Finding the perfect bottles for your family will make feedings easier while creating special bonding moments with your little one.

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