Glass vs Plastic Baby Bottles

Trying to decide on whether to choose plastic baby bottles or glass ones? This can be tricky as many parents have concerns about glass breaking into smaller pieces. However, many have valid concerns about the chemicals used in making plastic baby bottles.

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In this article, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of either option, as well as some other points you might want to consider.

Are glass baby bottles better than plastic?

Depending on your age, you may have parents or grandparents who used glass baby bottles to feed you or their children when they were babies. However, from the 1960s polypropylene (a type of plastic) was used to manufacture baby bottles as they were lighter and cheaper to produce.

Fast forward to today and there is far more awareness about the issues of drinking from plastic baby bottles, as well as the damage this material can do to the environment. Various studies have said that babies ingest vast quantities of microplastics in their first year when they drink from plastic baby bottles. These microplastics are released when you heat up the plastic to sterilize the bottles in either a sterilizer or pot of boiling water. However, many researchers say we shouldn’t be concerned by this. Even the WHO (World Health Organization) have said there is no evidence of any health concerns from drinking water containing microplastics. In fact harmful elements found in plastic, such as BPA, have been removed from almost all baby bottles.

As a parent, it’s a decision you have to make. You have a lot more choice when it comes to buying plastic baby bottles. They are cheaper for the consumer, lighter than glass and they won’t break into small pieces. However, glass baby bottles are easier to clean, last a lot longer and don’t contain any chemicals. You have to weigh up the pros and cons of both options. Looking at the baby bottle market in the US, plastic is by far the most popular choice, and it’s projected to continue over the next few years at least.

Are glass baby bottles better for the environment?

Glass baby bottles are definitely better for the environment than plastic baby bottles. For one, you can use them a lot longer, so if you are planning a second child, you can just keep them as they won’t lose their shape or warp over time. Secondly, if you do discard them you know that if you put them in your recycling bin for your weekly collection, the material is 100% recyclable and can be reused many times.

Are glass bottles safer than plastic?

This is a matter of opinion really. If you have any concerns about your baby drinking from plastic baby bottles, due to the chemicals they might be ingesting, than you should probably pick glass instead. However, if you’re concerned that glass baby bottles are too heavy for your baby to hold, or they might break into smaller pieces, which can present a choking hazard, then opt for plastic.

Why don’t we use glass baby bottles instead of plastic?

If we think about this on a global scale, rather than just with baby bottles, the main issues are to do with transport and the fragility of glass. Glass is heavier than plastic, which means it’s more expensive in terms of fuel to ship and transport from the manufacturer to the retailer. Furthermore, glass is more fragile than plastic so you can’t pack as many items closer together.       

Do glass baby bottles break easily?

Mention the word ‘glass’ and ‘baby’ in the same sentence and many parents will freak out! However, the glass used in baby bottles is a lot safer these days. Most manufacturers use tempered glass which is more resilient and if a bottle does break it won’t smash into small sharp shards, but rather smaller glass pebbles.

How long do glass baby bottles last?

If you really look after a set of glass baby bottles and clean them regularly, they can last for years. Just ensure you change the teats regularly as your baby grows so they can drink the milk quicker.

Can babies hold glass bottles? Are they too heavy?

It’s true that glass baby bottles are heavier than plastic ones. However, as a parent you’ll be holding them anyway for feeding, particularly for newborns and young babies as they won’t have the motor skills to hold the bottle anyway.

Can you put glass bottles in a sterilizer?

It’s perfectly safe to sterilize glass baby bottles. Just make sure everything is clean first, with no leftover milk inside. After the sterilizer has finished its cycle, leave them there for a while as glass retains heat so they’ll be too hot to touch for a few minutes. If you don’t have a sterilizer and prefer to boil them in water, just ensure you place them in cold water first and then bring to the boil. Don’t put glass bottles directly into very hot water, and don’t poor cold water directly onto a hot glass bottle afterwards to try and cool it down quicker.

Is it safe to boil plastic baby bottles?

If you don’t have a sterilizer and prefer to boil your plastic baby bottles in hot water, in general this is fine as long as your bottles are BPA free. Make sure the bottles are clean first, and then put them in a large pot. Fill the pot with water ensuring all the bottles and teats are completely submerged, with no air bubbles. Bring the water to boil, and leave for around 10 minutes.

What age can you stop sterilizing baby bottles?

You should sterilize all baby feed equipment until your baby is around 12 months old, as this will protect them from infections, particularly diarrhoea and vomiting.

How often should you sanitize baby bottles?

You need to sterilize all baby feeding equipment, including all bottles and teats, at least once daily. This is particularly important in the first 3 months, as babies have a weaker immune system that’s still developing. For older babies, as long as you clean everything thoroughly, you probably don’t need to do it every day.

When should you throw away baby bottles?

You should discard any baby bottles, glass or plastic if you notice any cracks or chips in the material. Providing you clean them thoroughly and look after your baby bottles, on average you should dispose of plastic baby bottles every 6 months. If in doubt, check the packaging box as it will likely say when you should replace your baby bottles. Glass bottles should last a lot longer if you maintain them well. Incidentally, you will need to replace the bottle teats more often, around every 2-3 months, as these wear out quicker.

Not sure about using baby bottles at all? Here are some alternatives to consider.

Pros and cons of glass bottles

Here’s a quick breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of glass baby bottles:

Pros

  • They’re long lasting and recyclable.
  • Easy to clean.
  • They don’t stain or emit any odours.
  • Don’t warp or lose their shape over time.
  • Naturally chemical and toxin free.

Cons

  • Glass baby bottles are heavier than plastic.
  • More expensive than glass.
  • They can break into smaller pieces, which can pose a risk to your baby.
  • Less options on the market.

Pros and cons of plastic bottles

And here’s a brief overview of the pros and cons of plastic bottles:

Pros

  • Cheaper than glass.
  • Easy to find and buy in stores.
  • Plastic bottles won’t shatter and break.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • They contain chemicals (although some of the harmful ones such as BPA are no longer used)
  • They can stain and pick up odours.
  • Plastic bottles are bad for the environment as they often end up in landfill and take a long time to biodegrade.
  • They are more difficult to clean.

What are the best baby bottles?

If you need to purchase some baby bottles, here are some good options to consider:

For glass

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For plastic

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glass vs plastic baby bottles
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