How many breast feeding bottles do I need?

As a new parent preparing to breastfeed your baby, one of the many things you’ll need to consider purchasing is breastfeeding bottles. But with so many bottle options on the market, how do you know how many bottles to get? Here are some quick answers to common questions new parents have about how many breastfeeding bottles they need.

Do I need bottles if I’m exclusively breastfeeding?

Yes, even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed, having a few bottles on hand can be useful. Here are some reasons you may want bottles:

  • To pump and store breast milk – You can use bottles to pump and store extra breast milk for times when you need to be away from your baby or want someone else to help with feedings.
  • For occasional formula – Even if you mostly breastfeed, you may want the option to supplement with formula on occasion. Bottles allow your partner or caregiver to feed the baby expressed breast milk or formula.
  • For transition times – Introducing a bottle early on (after breastfeeding is well established) can help make it easier if you transition back to work or school and need to pump and bottle feed breast milk.

So even if you intend to exclusively breastfeed directly from the breast, having 3-5 bottles on hand can provide flexibility.

How many bottles do I need if I’m pumping regularly?

If you plan to regularly pump breast milk in addition to nursing directly, you will likely need more bottles – around 6-12 is common. Here’s a rough guide:

  • 6-8 bottles for pumping at work or school – You’ll want enough bottles for each pumping session during your time away from your baby.
  • 3-4 bottles for at-home use – These are handy for storing pumped milk or giving the occasional bottle at home.
  • 1-2 extra bottles – Extras allow you to always have clean bottles ready while others are being cleaned.

The number of bottles needed can vary based on how often you pump and your daily schedule. Having 10-12 bottles is usually enough for pumping moms.

What types of bottles work best for breastfed babies?

When choosing bottles, opt for those designed specifically for breastfed babies, like:

  • Bottles with slow flow nipples – Nipples with a slow flow rate help prevent overfeeding and minimize nipple confusion.
  • Wide neck bottles – The wide opening mimics the shape of the breast and can make it easier for your baby to latch.
  • Angles bottles – The angled design can help breastfed babies take the bottle more easily.

Avoid bottles with fast flow nipples or narrow openings, as they can make switching between breast and bottle more challenging.

How many bottles do I need if I’m exclusively formula feeding?

If you plan to exclusively formula feed, you’ll likely need a higher bottle count – at minimum:

  • 12 bottles for rotating through – You’ll go through about 6-8 bottles per day, so having 12 allows you to always have clean bottles available.
  • 1-2 extra bottles – Having extras avoids getting caught without a clean bottle.

Depending on your daily routine and how often you like to wash bottles, you may need as many as 15-18 bottles for exclusive formula feeding.

How many bottles should I have on hand for feeding away from home?

It’s handy to have a designated bottle feeding kit for when you leave the house with your baby. For day trips, aim to have:

  • 2-3 bottles
  • Extra formula or breast milk
  • Portable bottle cleaner
  • Burp cloths
  • Bottle brush

For longer trips or overnights, bring enough bottles and supplies to cover each feeding without washing bottles mid-trip. Having 6-8 bottles available prevents stress when feeding on the go.

Should I have extra nipples and other bottle parts?

Yes, having extra nipples, rings, caps, and connectors can be useful. Keeping extras of these smaller parts on hand helps you avoid being unable to use a bottle due to a missing or worn out part. Aim for:

  • 2 extra nipples per bottle
  • 2-3 extra rings per bottle
  • 2-3 extra caps and connectors per bottle type

You likely won’t go through replacements that quickly, but having spares allows you to replace pieces immediately if needed.

Should I buy all one bottle brand or different types?

This depends on your personal preferences:

  • All one brand – Provides consistency and interchangeable parts, but less variety if your baby prefers certain bottles.
  • Multiple brands – Allows you to find the best bottle for your baby’s needs, but parts may not be interchangeable.

Many parents choose 2-3 bottle “systems” they like and buy multiples of those. But don’t go overboard buying too many brands before you know what works for your baby.

What bottle features are most important?

Here are a few key features to look for when selecting bottles:

  • Easy to clean – Choose simple designs with few parts and dishwasher safe materials.
  • Leak proof – Tight sealing components prevent messy leaks.
  • Durable – Sturdy materials that don’t crack or warp with repeated use.
  • Ventilation – Venting systems reduce gassiness and spit up.
  • Realistic nipple – A shape and flow rate that mimics the breast.

Prioritize function over cute designs or fancy features – the simplest bottles often work best.

Are reusable or disposable bottles better?

Most breastfeeding and formula feeding parents use reusable plastic or glass bottles. The pros of reusable bottles include:

  • More affordable in the long run
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Sturdier and last through multiple children
  • Come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and nipple flows

Disposable bottle systems are convenient but expensive over time. Reusable bottles are the best choice for most families.

What bottle cleaning and sterilization is needed?

To keep baby’s bottles safe and sanitary:

  • Wash in hot soapy water after each use
  • Clean nipples thoroughly with a bottle brush
  • Sterilize bottles at least once daily by boiling, steaming, or using a bottle sterilizer
  • Air dry fully before reassembling
  • Deep clean bottles weekly by soaking in white vinegar and water

Proper washing prevents bacteria and mold growth. Consult your pediatrician if you have well water or other sanitation concerns.

How can I save time washing and sterilizing bottles?

Here are some tips to streamline bottle cleaning:

  • Invest in a bottle sterilizer or steamer
  • Buy a drying rack for efficient air drying
  • Use the dishwasher for plastic bottle parts and nipples that are dishwasher safe
  • Get bottle brushes with long handles for easy scrubbing
  • Have multiple bottle sets so you always have a clean set ready
  • Enlist a partner’s help with the cleaning process

Planning ahead when bottle cleaning is needed and using the right tools can help minimize the work required.

How can I get the most use from my bottles?

Follow these tips for making your bottles last:

  • Inspect bottles and nipples regularly for cracks/damage and replace if needed
  • Avoid dropping or harshly impacting glass bottles
  • Follow manufacturer instructions for bottle use and cleaning
  • Replace nipples every 2-3 months or when they show signs of wear
  • Store bottles properly between uses
  • Invest in quality bottles designed for extended use

With proper care and replacement of expendable parts like nipples, most quality bottles can be used for multiple children over years.

Are used bottles safe to buy or borrow?

Used bottles from friends or secondhand sources should be avoided due to sanitation concerns. The potential risks include:

  • Transmission of bacteria and illness
  • Hidden damage like small cracks
  • Wear on nipples from previous use
  • Expired materials that degrade over time
  • Missing parts or improperly functioning components

Unless from a trusted source, only use new bottles certified to meet current safety standards.

What are bottle brushes and do I need them?

Bottle brushes are specialized cleaning brushes designed to thoroughly scrub the insides of bottles, nipples, and other feeding items. Here’s why bottle brushes are recommended:

  • Reach fully into bottles to remove residue
  • Clean hard-to-reach spots like inside nipples and crevices
  • Sturdy bristles scrub away dried liquid
  • Prevent growth of bacteria and mold
  • Remove odors that regular washing may leave behind

Investing in a few good bottle brushes can make cleaning much more effective.

What are bottle sterilizers and are they necessary?

Bottle sterilizers fully disinfect bottle parts, nipples, and other feeding accessories by steaming or using other sterilization methods. They are recommended because:

  • Gets items cleaner than hand washing alone
  • Kills harmful bacteria and germs
  • Allows bulk sterilization of multiple bottles/parts at once
  • Great for sterilizing pacifiers, teethers, and breast pump parts too
  • Eliminates odors and leave items residue free

While not mandatory, a bottle sterilizer can be a useful investment for baby’s health.


Finding the right number of bottles to buy can seem complicated for new parents. But following the guidelines below makes it easier:

  • Buy 3-5 bottles minimum, even if exclusively breastfeeding
  • Have 10-12 bottles on hand if you’ll regularly pump breast milk
  • Aim for at least 12 bottles for exclusive formula feeding
  • Get extras nipples, rings, caps, and connectors
  • Prioritize quality over quirky designs or fancy features
  • Invest in reusable bottles rather than disposables
  • Don’t use borrowed or secondhand bottles
  • Clean and sterilize bottles after each use

Arming yourself with the right number of quality bottles simplifies feedings and lets you focus on bonding with your new baby!

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