Many of today’s plastic products, from snack containers and water bottles to sippy cups, baby chew toys and bottles are marketed as BPA-free. But research is showing these BPA-free plastics share similar qualities that made BPA potentially unsafe. Here are a few questions to think about when shopping for the safest baby bottle option for your little one.
What are plastic baby bottles made of?
Although many plastic items including baby bottles and plastic sippy cups no longer contain the active ingredient bisphenol A (BPA) as of 2012, they do contain other ingredients that make up their plastic substrate. There are studies that show that even BPA-free plastic products leach chemicals that have substantial estrogenic activity like BPA. Some BPA-free plastic products have even shown a stronger estrogenic activity.
What does estrogenic activity mean?
This means a chemical or compound that may mimic the hormone estrogen. Estrogen exposure at a young age may increase different cancers, ovarian and testicular development, as well as play a role as an endocrine disruptor, affecting other hormones and metabolites thereby relating to obesity, diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
How would a plastic affect the nutrients in my baby’s bottle?
When plastics are stressed or damaged, they leach greater amounts of their ingredients. These polycarbon plastics are not temperature stable so they are stressed by heat, which can happen when you heat the bottle, put hot liquids in the bottle, wash the bottle in a dishwasher or sterilize it, or when the bottle warms up in a hot car or diaper bag. Plastics are also damaged with abrasion and various soaps, as well as simply with age.
What are the advantages/disadvantages to using a plastic baby bottle?
Advantages: They are light and unbreakable when thrown onto a floor or out of a stroller. Disadvantages: The long-term safety of plastic baby bottles, especially those that have contained warmed liquids, have been stored with liquids or have been washed in a hot dishwasher are unknown, as studies show even BPA-free plastic baby bottles leach estrogenic activity constituents.
If a plastic baby bottle works best for our family, how can we minimize our risk?
By hand washing in cool water with gentle soap, only using cool or cold liquids in the bottle, never storing liquids in the bottle even if in the fridge or a diaper bag and screening the bottle for signs of aging and damages to its structure.
What are some baby bottle alternatives I could consider using and learning about?
Glass and stainless steel would be potential alternatives.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using glass baby bottles?
They can be washed in a hot dishwasher as well as sterilized, used to heat baby’s milk and handed down and reused over many years. Glass baby bottles also have a good resale value, and those that were produced after 2010 are made with tempered glass, which is harder to break. As added protection, many glass bottles are now sold with a silicon sheath, which prevents them from breaking if dropped and also makes it easier for your littles to hold onto their own bottles when they’re old enough. Disadvantages: they are heavier, breakable and may cost a bit more up front.