Medela deserves major credit for bottle innovation with the introduction of the Calma bottle. Lots of bottles try to mimic the human body to make bottle feeding more like breastfeeding, but Calma gets much closer to the real deal than most. The main difference between this and other bottles is the nipple. The first thing you'll notice is that the nipple is completely open on the top. The nipple itself isn't the part that requires suction to make the bottle work.
The little valve is down lower in the nipple base. Milk only flows when the baby sucks properly.
The Calma bottle comes in two sizes - 5 ounces and 8 ounces. A replacement nipple set is also available.
Calma Bottle Review
This bottle is one that you, and your baby, will either love or hate. It seems like there's no in between. It's definitely designed for a niche market, too. Babies who are primarily breastfed but need to take a bottle sometimes are the prime audience.
Due to the cost, the bottle size, and the extra work involved with these bottles, you'll probably want to skip Calma if your baby is on formula exclusively. Formula fed babies will progress to bigger meals as they grow. Breastfed babies tend to max out at smaller meals, so the 5-ounce and 8-ounce bottle sizes will probably work best long-term with breastmilk. There's also no real advantage to using these bottles with formula exclusively because there's no need to maintain a perfect breastfeeding latch, which is the main goal of the unusual Calma nipple.
If you have a newborn or young infant who is struggling with breastfeeding, bottles may become a necessity. Of course, there are other options, such as finger feeding, cup feeding, syringe feeding, or a supplemental nursing system, that can be used before turning to bottle feeding. However, many of the other options really require help from a lactation consultant to ensure they're being used properly.
Bottles are pretty easy to figure out without help. That said, if you're committed to feeding your baby breast milk, but you're struggling for whatever reason, consider calling in a lactation consultant before you go straight to pumping and bottles for good. Expert help is worthwhile and may save your milk supply and help identify any anatomical issues that might be affecting meal times.
When your baby needs to eat and fast, and you don't want to do anything to damage the breastfeeding relationship, the Calma bottle fills an important need. The nipple style doesn't allow baby to have a lazy latch, and the baby can't just lay there and let milk drip into his or her mouth. The Calma bottle makes baby work for it, just like they do while nursing. The nipple flow is also fairly slow, so it doesn't teach baby to gulp a meal quickly.
There's quite a bit of research behind the nipple style of the Calma bottle. It was developed with help from the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group at the University of Western Australia. If your baby has already learned how to breastfeed properly, the bottle allows baby to keep using the same suck, swallow, breathe pattern that is familiar from nursing.
Breastfed babies sometimes get confused or refuse a bottle because the skill set is a little different from what they usually do. The outer nipple shape is very similar to the shape of the breast when it's in baby's mouth, and it requires the baby to hold his or her mouth in the same way as during breastfeeding.
For babies who don't already have good breastfeeding skills, the Calma bottle gives a greater chance of being able to transition back to full-time breastfeeding since baby can't be lazy and still receive sufficient milk. Babies are smart, and traditional bottles give them more food with less effort.
Calma is one of the more expensive bottles on the market these days. At about $17, it's more of a specialty feeding device than a regular bottle. It works in some situations, though, which may make that cost worthwhile for many families.
There are a lot of pieces to this bottle. You have to put several pieces together to form the nipple, and it doesn't just pull through a hole like a standard bottle. Fortunately, it comes with a base cap so you can assemble the whole thing after cleaning, and the bottom will be protected from dust or grime until the next feeding. Once it's disassembled, this bottle was very easy to clean.
Calma bottles can leak. There doesn't seem to be a consistent problem with leaking, but many parents report an occasional issue with spilled milk. Breastfeeding moms don't like losing any of that hard-earned milk!
If you're breastfeeding and only need to give a bottle occasionally, the Medela Calma bottle might be a good choice for your baby. For added convenience, you can use the Calma nipples on Medela breast pump bottles.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.