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Glass vs. Plastic Baby Bottles

Decades ago, the only baby bottle available to parents is made of glass. But glass was heavy and breakable. So when plastic bottles came along that were lighter and shatter-proof, the glass bottle became almost obsolete.

However, recent reports that a type of plastic found in baby bottles might cause potentially harmful changes in developing babies has left parents wondering if perhaps old-fashioned glass wasn't such a bad thing after all.

Which is safer, glass or plastic? Here is some background on baby bottles, along with tips on how to choose -- and use -- bottles safely and effectively.

Baby Bottle Worries

The problem with glass bottles is pretty obvious -- drop one on the floor in the middle of a late-night feeding, and you'll have a roomful of shattered glass to clean up. Glass is also heavy and cumbersome. On the upside, glass bottles are sturdy, and they don't contain any chemicals that could potentially get into the baby's formula.

Plastic baby bottles are lightweight, strong, and unbreakable. In 2012, the FDA banned the use of bisphenol A in the manufacture of baby bottles and sippy cups. There were concerns that the chemical in polycarbonate plastic could lead to certain cancers, changes in the brain and reproductive system, and early puberty. All baby bottles and sippy cups sold in the USA are now BPA-free.

In 2013, the FDA supported a food additive amendment to end the use of bisphenol A-based epoxy resins in the lining of formula cans. Manufacturers had abandoned the use of BPA in those maternal and child products, so the move was largely supportive.

Choosing a Baby Bottle

There are essentially four types of baby bottles: plastic, plastic with disposable liners, plastic with glass liners, and all glass.

The ban on BPA means you can confidently buy new plastic baby bottles, knowing that they are free of the potentially harmful chemical. If you are using older plastic bottles, for example bottles given to you by family members, check the recycling symbol on the bottom.

Is sippy cup a definite no-no?

If you can manage without a sippy cup, great. My son was exclusively breastfed and transitioned directly to tumbler. No bottles or sippy cups for him.

However, it is quite ok to use sippy cups during the bottle to cup transition period for a month or so. Then the children should be moved to regular tumblers or straw cups.

Also, care should be taken that sippy cups are only used for travel, or when spills are not acceptable. When children are at home, they can use a regular tumbler or cup.

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