Tuesday, June 11, 2019

I love glass baby bottles


Oh the joy of a breastfed baby who will accept bottles! After my experience with my first baby, I was that close to just not bothering with bottles at all this time round. Having seen Little Squish accepting a dummy with my own eyes, however, I warily decided to buy a couple of bottles and let her have a go. Wow, what a difference it makes! Cup feeding and spoon-feeding EBM are all very well, but they are messy and slow. Being able to leave baby for several hours at a time without worrying is just so liberating. Thank you, Little Squish. It's very very much appreciated.

When buying bottles, I unhesitatingly chose glass, same as the first time round--and it seems that glass has been coming back into fashion, because our regular baby store had both plastic and glass options, produced by the most popular mainstream baby bottle brand in Japan (Pigeon, in case you are wondering. They do breast pumps as well). My mother was not keen on the idea ("What happens when she starts grabbing them from you and chucking them on the floor?") but then, she is of the generation that grew up during the era of old-school glass bottles which probably broke as soon as you look at them, and was no doubt very grateful to switch to plastic. These days, glass bottles are practical, and I think they are by far the nicer choice.

Glass bottles look, smell, taste, feel and even sound nicer (yes, really--glass items make nice clinky noises when you get them in and out of the fridge or lift them with sterilizer tongs. I care about this. Doesn't everyone? No? Okay, maybe it's just me). Pumping milk is one hell of a pain; it's easier to feel motivated if you have beautiful, gleaming, sparkly-clear glass bottles to line up rather than crappy blurry-looking plastic ones. I hate the way plastic bottles look after they've been washed and sterilized several times--they get all beat up and cloudy looking, with little scratches all over them, and if they've ever accidentally been washed with dinner items they sometimes get those lovely orangey tints that we see on old plastic tupperware containers. Doesn't look pretty or hygienic, and you wonder about contaminants getting into your precious milk. 

As for formula (I have been making use of some formula this time round, but that will be the subject of a future post): Nowadays, "The Powers That Be" decree that carers must use hot water (70 degrees or so) when making up formula, to kill any Enterobacter sakazakii that could be lurking in the non-sterile milk powder. I am not particularly woo-woo, but even I don't particularly like the idea of preparing a hot drink in a plastic container--even one that's BPA-free. Come to think of it, I don't like the idea of drinking out of plastic containers myself. I use stainless steel water bottles and glass tumblers. I think babies deserve the same sort of containers when they drink stuff. Most baby bottles have been free from BPA since around 2010-ish, but just because a bottle is BPA-free does not mean that it is free from everything that might be concerning when combined with hot liquids, and you do kind of wonder what "they" (plastic manufacturers etc.) have put in there to replace the BPA. By the way, the cloudiness that appears on plastic bottles that have been washed a few times (especially if they have been through the dishwasher) is something new: old-school Bad Plastics containing BPA used to stay clear and transparent, and that was actually the whole reason why BPA used to be added to baby-bottle plastics. Now it's been removed and everyone has dull cloudy-looking bottles. So the change that made plastic baby bottles safer has actually made them look dodgier, strangely enough.  

Glass bottles are not as fragile as some people seem to imagine. The glass is special extra-tough shatter-proof stuff; I've dropped my glass bottles a few times and never shattered or chipped a single one--and we have hardwood floors. I mean, if you (or more likely, your child) well and truly slammed one against a wall, it might break; the fact that glass bottles are a bit more fragile and the fact that they are heavier, do make it harder for babies to hold their own bottles or may make you more reluctant to encourage them to do so. Then again, not everyone is bothered about this, and certainly there is no evidence that bottle-holding is some sort of essential "milestone" or important for development in any way. Indeed, there is actually a school of thought which suggests that babies should not be encouraged to get independent with bottles by holding them, as this encourages habits like wandering around with a bottle; the idea is that if a baby has to lie passively and get bottle-nursed, this means that as they get older and more mobile, their growing sense of independence will cause them to naturally lose interest in the bottle and bottle-wean themselves. I suspect this argument is overkill, but it's probably a good general rule that bottle usage should be gradually restricted anyway as babies get older and grabbier, and having more fragile bottles might be a simple way of ensuring that this happens.

Finally, glass bottles are better for the environment. They can be recycled properly at the end of their life, or even gifted to another person since they stay clean and fresh no matter how many times they are used (Pigeon sells separate teats, which is handy). All in all, glass looks like the right choice for baby bottles, and I suspect they will become the norm over the next few years, especially with the negative connotations that the word "plastic" has developed in this age of environmental concerns.

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