Last Updated on January 10, 2021
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There’s no one right way to parent, especially when it comes to feeding your baby. However, I think every parent can relate to the worry that comes with your baby having digestive issues like spit-up and gas while not knowing how to help them feel better.
Before our first baby, we were on the fence about whether to use a standard bottle or one that specifically reduces colic and gas.
Our pediatrician recommended we look at the Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow bottle based on the positive reviews and input received from other mothers.
Dr. Brown’s bottles are designed with a unique full internal vent system and the vented straw is the main selling point to help reduce colic and digestive issues.
After conducting our Dr. Brown’s bottles reviews, we would recommend the Natural Flow bottles for parents that aren’t afraid of cleaning a few extra pieces. The bottles have worked remarkably well with our last two children.
Things to Consider Before Buying Baby Bottles
When thinking about buying baby bottles, you should consider any of your baby’s current or potential feeding issues.
Is your baby frequently struggling with spit-up, burping, gas, or colic? If so, then an anti-colic vented bottle like Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow might be best for your baby since it’s doctor-designed to combat these issues.
Even if your baby isn’t dealing with chronic digestive issues, these types of vented bottles might be the right choice. The bottle’s design can help relieve even mild cases of burping and gas that naturally comes with milk or formula consumption.
However, its specialty internal vent system means that it comes with some drawbacks and extra parts to clean. These design complications might some parents of babies without digestive issues want a regular unvented or partially-vented bottle.
Something else to consider is your baby’s development. If your baby is a preemie, for example, you might think about Dr. Brown’s Narrow Preemie Bottle or a similar product designed for smaller stomachs.
So, keep these things in mind when considering your next baby bottle purchase:
- Baby’s digestive patterns or issues
- Baby’s size or development
- Ease of use
Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottle Review
The Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow baby bottle is one of the only fully-vented bottle on the market. It has a reputation as being the best bottle for preventing chronic gas, colic, and other digestive issues in babies – and comes pediatrician recommended for this very reason.
This bottle is for babies with digestive issues or parents that want something that helps reduce even occasional issues. However, it does require extra cleaning thanks to its unique venting system.
WHAT WE LOVE
- Dr. Brown’s line of bottles is full-vented, keeping air away from the bottle’s liquid.
- Dr. Brown’s bottles are available in two sizes: standard and wide-neck, allowing for more flexibility.
- Bottles made of BPA-free plastic and silicone.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
- Hard to fill with breast milk because of the vent system — you must remove all vent pieces.
- More pieces that must be cleaned after each use.
Dr. Brown’s Bottle Features & Benefits
The Natural Flow line of bottles is known for its vent system but read on to see how its other features stack up.
The Natural Flow bottle uses BPA-free polypropylene plastic. The bottle nipple is silicone. All internal parts of the bottle, including the venting system and nipple, are also BPA-free.
You can be sure your little one isn’t coming into contact with harmful toxins with these BPA-free bottle materials.
The Natural Flow bottle is available in standard and wide-neck bottle sizes. The standard size is also sometimes called narrow. These are both the same size, and this sizing refers to the nipple size.
The standard/narrow size allows the baby to place their entire mouth around the nipple during feeding. The wide-neck bottle is shaped more like a breast, making it a better choice for babies used to breastfeeding or those with a broader latch.
The bottles both feature the full venting system inside the bottle. The only difference between the widths is the latch size. Overall, the narrow or standard is the most typical.
Air Vent System
Dr. Brown’s claims that the Natural Flow baby bottle has been the only fully-vented baby bottle on the market for over 20 years. The entire Dr. Brown’s line of baby bottles features this internal venting system.
The vent system keeps air from coming in contact with the bottle’s liquid. Without air in the bottle, your baby is less likely to experience gas, colic, and spit-up. The venting system also allows your baby to feed at their own pace without the liquid moving too quickly.
Dr. Brown’s explains that when air gets into breast milk or formula in your baby’s bottle, it destroys nutrients in milk, which causes digestive issues like spit-up, burping, and gas. This idea is backed by pediatric and nutritional information on gas and colic.
Ease of Use
Dr. Brown’s venting system was pediatrician-designed to make it easy for babies to bottle feed. This design makes it easy on your baby, but it might not be so easy for you. The Natural Flow Baby Bottle has a reputation for being tough to put together when it’s time to feed.
Bottle Nipple Quality
Dr. Brown’s offers two different varieties of bottle nipples, both made of BPA-free silicone. The first is the standard nipple. The second is the wide-mouth nipple, which of course only works with wide-mouth bottles. If you want a wide-mouth style Dr. Brown’s bottle, you’ll have to skip the Natural Flow Original option.
Ease of Cleaning
The Natural Flow bottles are as easy to clean as regular bottles, except that they have additional parts that require further cleaning. Thankfully, all the many parts (except nipples) are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
The vent system inside the bottle requires separate cleaning with a special brush to ensure the vent system is thoroughly cleaned and continues to do its job. The vent may also be prone to mold because of its small gaps, so it needs special attention in cleaning.
Every parent wants to make sure their baby’s bottle is completely sterile and this process is more difficult with extra nooks and crannies in the bottle vent.
To make this a little easier, the bottles do come with a cleaning brush to help make sure the pieces are safe and clean.
The Natural Flow bottle comes with a cleaning brush specifically used for cleaning the vent holes and vent reservoir inside the bottle.
Dr. Brown’s makes a variety of accessories suitable for almost all of their bottles, including the Natural Flow bottle. These accessories include a bottle steam sterilization and drying system for multiple bottles and smaller dryers for individual bottles.
Dr. Brown’s also makes microwave steam sterilizers, a bottle warmer, and various styles of cleaning brushes for the bottles. If you’re looking to convert a Natural Flow bottle into a self-feeding bottle for an older baby, Dr. Brown’s also makes silicone handles for their bottles for independent drinking.
How many baby bottles do you need?
This mainly depends on how frequently you want to wash bottles. We recommend having at least 8 to 10 bottles to make sure you make it through 24 hours if you need to.
Right after your baby is born, they’ll be drinking a lot more frequently and in smaller amounts. We recommend getting:
- 8 to 10 of the 4-ounce bottles for the first several months
- 6 to 8 of the 8-ounce bottles for when their feedings are more than 4 ounces
Other Types of Dr. Brown’s Baby Bottles
Dr. Brown’s makes several other types of bottles suitable for different bottle-feeding styles. If you’re not sure that the Natural Flow Baby Bottle is right for your baby, see if one of these might work better.
The Options+ Anti-Colic bottle is an excellent alternative to the Natural Flow bottle. The Options+ differs because you can remove the venting system as your baby grows and develops. Plus, this option is available in wide-neck and glass styles.
Check out the Options+ Anti-Colic Bottle if you:
- Specifically need to reduce colic issues for your baby
- Like the flexibility of removing the venting system
The Options+ Narrow Preemie Bottle is fitted with the slowest flow nipple and comes in a two-ounce size, sized for small babies. This bottle is a better choice for preemies because it features the same venting as the Natural Flow bottle, but it won’t overwhelm a smaller baby.
You should look at the Options+ Narrow Preemie Bottle if you:
- Have a preemie, small baby, or are in a different development period
- Want a smaller bottle for travel
The Transition Bottle With Sippy Spout is for babies capable of feeding themselves. It features a sippy spout and silicone handles. The sippy spout fits any Options+ bottle with the vent removed, and the handles can fit other narrow bottles.
Check out the Transition Bottle With Sippy Spout if you:
- Think your baby is ready to feed independently
- Want a more flexible bottle option
Alternatives to Dr. Brown’s Baby Bottles
While Dr. Brown’s has been an innovator with its fully-vented system for decades, other bottles have started to take note of some of their developments. Here are a few alternatives to Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow bottles that might also offer different or better features.
The Avent Natural Anti-Colic bottle works with or without the vent system, unlike the Natural Flow bottle.
Check out the Philips Anti-Colic Baby Bottle for these features:
- Removable vent system
- Easy to clean
- Easy to assemble
The NUK Smooth Flow Anti-Colic Bottle is available in wide-neck only, but it features a Safe Temp temperature indicator that lets you know when milk is safe to serve.
Look at the NUK Smooth Flow Anti-Colic Bottle if you like these options:
- Safe Temp temperature indicator
- Available in wide-neck only
- Smooth Flow nipple lets baby control feeding rate to reduce colic
The Playtex Baby VentAire Bottle features fewer pieces to clean than the Natural Flow bottles.
Learn more about the Playtex Baby VentAire Bottle if you’re interested in these options:
- Fewer pieces to clean and assemble
- Angled body design
- Naturalatch silicone nipple
The MAM Easy Start Anti-Colic Bottle has a vented bottom as opposed to Natural Flow’s vented straw. It also features a self-sterilizing ability, making it less complicated to clean than the Natural Flow bottle.
If you’re interested in these features, check out the MAM Easy Start Anti-Colic Bottle:
- Nipple can be sterilized by putting it in the microwave
- Silicone nipple accepted by 94% of babies
- Vented bottom to help reduce colic
The Dr Browns Natural Flow bottle offers a solution for babies with chronic digestive issues by removing air from the bottle while feeding through a full-vent system.
The Natural Flow bottle helps babies with digestion by having a fully-vented bottle and two sizes of nipple for different bottle-feeding styles.
Our family has used them for our last two babies and have had no issues cleaning the bottles or using them to limit gassiness after feedings.
If your baby is having digestive issues or if you want to reduce gas and burping, pediatricians recommend – as do we – the Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Baby Bottle.