Dr. Brown's Natural Flow bottles are available in several styles and are one of the most popular anti-colic bottle brands. You can choose from wide neck or standard neck bottles, as well as from plastic or glass. There are also classic Natural Flow bottles and a newer Options style. All of the Dr. Brown's Natural Flow and Options bottles come with a special internal vent system that reduces the potential for discomfort for your baby.
The internal vent system looks like a straw inside the bottle, and it is made up of a round insert for the top of the bottle, plus the long, straw-like vent that extends the whole length of the bottle. By keeping air away from the formula or breast milk inside, these bottles reduce the possibility of your baby swallowing bubbles that could cause gas pain, spitting up, burping, and colic. The manufacturer states that keeping air out of baby's food also preserves the nutrients inside.
Another advantage of the vent system is that a vacuum doesn't build up inside the bottle as baby eats. This also prevents a common bottle issue - nipple collapse. It's easier for baby to eat without the vacuum building up, too.
Dr. Brown's Bottle Styles - Natural Flow & Options
The classic Natural Flow standard neck bottles are available in 2-ounce, 4-ounce, and 8-ounce sizes. The wide neck bottles are available in 4-ounce and 8-ounce sizes.
They can be purchased in clear plastic or glass versions. The classic Natural Flow bottles must be used with the vent system at all times.
A newer style called Options has the same popular shape and features with the vent system. However, the Options bottles can be used with or without the vent system.
That's a big advantage and time-saver, because, while the vents may be really helpful for newborns or smaller babies who typically swallow a lot of air or get gassy at mealtime, those same vents get annoying to clean if they're no longer necessary. The Options bottles allow you to have a great anti-colic vented bottle and a convenient, simple bottle for older babies, all in one package.
All of the Dr. Brown's Natural Flow and Options bottles have a clear silicone nipple. The nipples are available in several speeds - ultra-preemie for 0+ months, preemie for 0+ months, level 1 for 0+ months, level 2 for 3+ months, level 3 for 6+ months, level 4 for 9+ months, and Y-cut for thicker formulas or older babies.
Do They Leak?
The classic shape of these bottles, in the standard, wide neck, and Options styles, makes them easy to carry in most diaper bags, or in the insulated bottle bags that come with many diaper bags. The size also works in any standard-size bottle warmers. However, some parents report trouble with milk leaking out of the top of the bottle when using a bottle warmer. It might work better to take off the lid and the vent before warming the bottle.
These bottles rarely leak during feeding or transport as long as they're put together properly.
Assembling the pieces isn't hard, but in the middle of the night when you're tired, it's easy to forget a piece. You cannot use the classic Natural Flow bottles without the vent pieces, as they leak profusely without the vents. The Options bottles, as mentioned above, can be used without the vent system, so there's less chance of missing a piece and ending up with a leak.
Cleaning the Bottles
All of the pieces are dishwasher safe. It's quite easy to keep these bottles squeaky clean by using a regular dishwasher basket. The vent pieces tend to get yucky quickly if you forget a bottle in your diaper bag, though. Rinsing the pieces after use when possible will help avoid that problem. A small bottle brush is included if you need it.
While these bottles take a little extra effort to put together with the vent system and are more work when you need to open them up in public, they do work very well.
If your baby needs a vented bottle to reduce gas or colic, the extra effort is worthwhile. The newer Options style bottles are super-convenient since you can skip using the vent system when your baby doesn't need it.