No one wants their baby to be stricken by colic. The condition means that your usual happy bundle of joy is crying and in desperate need of soothing. Luckily, if your baby is bottle-fed, there are some products that claim they can help! Anti-colic bottles are a real thing, and we’re here to explain what they are and how they work. We’ll share our favorite anti-colic bottles, just in case you need help determining which ones to try.
These days there are dozens of baby bottle brands to choose from, all claiming to be among the best bottles for newborns. From BPA-free plastic to glass baby bottles and everything in between, it can be hard to know exactly what kind of bottle to look for. But whether you’re hoping to eliminate nipple confusion, prevent colic or are just aiming for something that’s easy to wash and store, we’ve got you covered.
Choosing bottles that are designed to reduce gas and colic might mean the difference between a restful night of sleep and hours of listening to a screaming newborn. These are 11 of the best bottles with technology built in to combat colic, so your precious little ones can go back to being their lovely selves.
What is colic?
Colic has been medically defined as an otherwise healthy baby crying for 3 or more hours a day, 3 or more days a week, for at least 3 weeks. It tends to appear in a baby’s first 3 to 6 weeks of life.
Colic is a temporary health condition, that should hopefully improve on its own with time, but the American Academy of Pediatricians says 20 percent of all babies develop it. (So, you’re not alone!)
How do anti-colic bottles work?
One of the common ways babies get gas in their digestive system is by swallowing air, particularly during feeds. Colicky babies also have the extra problem that they may swallow air when they are continuously crying, which can cause a vicious cycle.
A bottle labeled as anti-colic is designed to reduce air swallowed during feeds, lessen gas bubbles in the stomach, and slow down food intake. This has the potential to reduce any colicky crying related to gas and overfeeding.
So, just how does an anti-colic bottle reduce swallowed air? They may have:
- a variety of nipple flow options to help get milk flowing at just the right speed
- bottle nipples designed to lessen the chance of air in the tip
- valve systems to ensure your bottle doesn’t turn into an air vacuum
- an angled shape to help keep baby more upright while feeding
- optional vent systems to keep air from traveling through the milk, creating more bubbles
5 Best Anti-colic Bottles of 2021:
Parents love this bottle and its famous venting system, which reduces air bubbles in milk. Fewer air bubbles also mean less oxidation of nutrients, so the milk may retain more vitamins A, C, and E.
With this bottle there are also a wide range of nipple flow options available, so you won’t run into problems if your baby is a preemie or older and sucking strongly.
Downsides? All the parts you’ll need to clean (this tends to be a problem with most bottles that include venting systems though). There are also more pieces to assemble, which can make this a tricky bottle for friends and relatives to put together in your absence.
- Unique internal venting system means no vacuum in the bottle
- BPA free
- Dishwasher safe
- Preserves nutrients in milk
- More pieces to assemble
- Complicated to wash
When you’re a new mom, sometimes simple is best. These anti-colic Avent bottles consist of only four pieces (the bottle, the nipple, the ring, and the cap) that are all dishwasher-safe.
They’re also fully compatible with the rest of the Avent line, so if you have other classic bottles, nipples, or toddler cups the parts will be interchangeable, and you may be able to use them for the full duration of your baby’s early feeding years. All bottles and nipples are BPA-free.
The main anti-gas feature is a unique vent in the nipple, which helps release air back into the top of the bottle and away from your baby. It’s one thing to hear about what a bottle is supposed to do, but another when it’s backed up by scientific evidence: these bottles were actually tested and shown to reduce infant nighttime fussiness by 60% over conventional bottles.
- Simple, classic design
- Easy to clean and dishwasher safe
- Firm nipple to prevent collapsing
- Clinically tested
- The lowest flow nipple has 2 holes, making it too fast for some babies
- Some parents have complained of leakiness
The latest innovation from Tommee Tippee claims to reduce gas in babies by up to 80%.
It’s a 3 piece anti-colic technology builds upon the simple vents in previous tippee bottles by drawing the incoming air away from the milk and down through the straw you can see in the middle of the bottle. The straw is also conveniently heat sensing and will change color (go pink) if milk is too hot.
You get the benefits of the tippee nipple which hasn’t changed from other iterations of their bottles. It’s award-winning and has a very wide base making it feel natural to your baby and closer to a real breast. They don’t suffer at all from any nipple collapse problems.
Tommee Tippee also has an extensive range of other products like sterilizers, warmers, and handles that are all compatible with these bottles.
- Easy to hold
- Many different colors
- Compatibility with other nipple types and Tommee Tippee products
- Microwave and dishwasher compatible
- Many parts to clean
- Straw/vent is not optional
- Caps may discolor after repeated sterilization cycles
About $7 per bottle, and available in 4 ounce and 8 ounce versions. The Munchkin LATCH bottles have some truly innovative features. The unique anti-colic valve is located on the bottom of the bottle, which reduces the complexity of the washing process relative to the Dr. Brown’s option.
As the baby consumes more milk, the valve slowly allows air to enter the bottle, decreasing the negative pressure and reducing air ingestion. Less air being ingested means less burping and colic. In our testing, we thought the valve did a great job at reducing gas and colic.
It was nice not having to worry about lips or cheeks blocking a venting valve on the nipple. The valve’s placement can make it a little tricky to clean, but using the dishwasher’s top rack was super easy and effective. During our test feedings, there was one occassion when the nipple became pushed in a few times, which was a bit frustrating to have to pull/pop back out intermittently.
This didn’t happen with all the babies, but it’s worth mentioning. Let’s talk about why they named this the “LATCH” bottle.
- Self-sterilizing design, so you can steam sterilize in the microwave directly
- Switch easily between bottle and breast
- Dishwasher safe
- Very affordable
- The additional pieces mean more to clean
- Comes with medium-flow nipples, so you need to purchase slow-flow nipples separately
Specifically designed to resemble breastfeeding as closely as possible, this bottle has a soft silicone body easy for a baby to grab like a breast. It is also easy to clean due to its wide neck and minimal parts.
Optional handles can be used for self-feeding when your baby is ready, and the true slow-flow nipple — intended for ages newborn for 3 months — only has one hole.
Downsides? You’ll want to really double-check how the lid is screwed on, since it’s been known to leak. The soft base also tends to tip over, since it’s not as stable. Additionally, it can be hard to tell exactly how much formula or milk is in the bottle because the volume markers are hard to see.
- All four pieces are dishwasher safe
- Flexible, natural feeling
- Compatible handles are available for self-feeding
- True slow-flow nipple only has one hole
- The flexible body may make it difficult for the baby to grasp
- Difficult to see volume markers on the bottle
When Do You Need anti-colic Bottles?
You can start using bottles from day one. If you’re breastfeeding, you may choose to wait to introduce a bottle until baby has gotten the hang of nursing, usually between about three and six weeks.
Babies usually use bottles until at least one year old, which is when the AAP says it’s okay to transition your little one from breast milk or formula over to cow’s milk. However, many breastfeeding parents continue to nurse well into the second year and beyond.
Do Anti-Colic Bottles Work?
Let’s face it: an unhappy baby equals unhappy parents. And if chronic gas plague a baby, then things are bound to be more than a little stressful for everyone in the house.
The primary culprit of infant gas is the baby swallowing air, causing it to become trapped in the digestive system. If the baby is not able to relieve the pressure through burping or passing gas, severe discomfort results, along with crying. Lots and lots of crying.
Since the main cause of gassiness is swallowed air, it makes sense to focus on the bottle you’re offering your baby. Finding a bottle design that works with your baby’s oral anatomy in a way to minimize air consumption while feeding can reduce gas bubbles in baby’s belly, helping to reduce tummy troubles.
Colic is a similar, but more serious condition. While the exact cause remains unknown, the hallmark of colic is extreme crying and fussiness with no discernible medical reason.
What’s worse, colicky babies tend to swallow air just with excessive screaming and crying (3), so you could find yourself in a vicious cycle. An immature digestive system is speculated to be a cause, which means that finding a bottle that’s extra-gentle on the tummy may help ease the pain and reduce their fussing.
If your baby is spending lots of their day crying or showing distress after feeds, they may have acid reflux, gas, or even the dreaded colic.
Before feeling helpless, try switching their bottle to one that is anti-colic in design. This way they will hopefully ingest less air and eat in a way that lends itself to a settled stomach.