Reusing baby gear is the norm for most parents especially when expecting another bundle of joy. It’s called being economical. Besides, babies tend to outgrow items such as clothes and swaddlers super fast while they still look as good as new! It makes sense for you to pack away some of this gear and keep it for your next child. But what of baby bottles? Is reusing baby bottles a wise move? In other words, do baby bottles expire? Where do you draw the line?
This question came up for me when we tried to reuse my sister’s baby bottles which we inherited after her first child was born. Therefore I became curious to find out what the answer is. I did thorough research and in this post, I review prominent baby bottle manufacturers to gauge what they have to say on the matter. I’m going to share with you my findings regarding whether in fact, baby bottles expire and if the material making up the bottle or storage conditions contributes to wear and tear. I want you to make an informed decision for your little one.
Do Baby Bottles Expire?
In the case of baby bottles, most manufacturers don’t put expiration dates on their products’ packaging. It’s only after conducting research and contacting the manufacturer will you get a recommendation of the expected time frame. And different brands have different recommendations.
It’s worth pointing out that usually when a product is said to expire, it’s based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and guidelines. In most cases, the product manufacturer explicitly states the expiry date. Continuing to use it after the recommended expiry date is at your own peril.
Baby bottles generally don’t really expire. But like any product, the value you get from it when it’s brand new, is in no way near what you can expect from it a few months or years down the line.
Wear and tear happen and the product’s overall quality and in some cases, effectiveness diminishes over time. I believe baby bottles are no exception.
Now let’s see some specific brands and what their manufacturers have to say about their bottles and nipples.
Do Comotomo baby bottles and nipples expire?
Do Avent baby bottles and nipples expire?
What if you’re an Avent baby product lover? According to the brand’s manufacturers, the Phillips Avent Natural Newborn Baby Bottle Starter Set for example, doesn’t come with an expiration date. But you also need to replace the nipple after every three months. Or when you notice the first signs of damage.
Do Medela baby bottles and nipples expire?
The manufacturer doesn’t specify the recommended time frame for using their bottles. What they don’t recommend is using the same set for a different baby. And to always replace the bottles when you notice the first signs of damage.
What’s the Expiration Date on Plastic Baby Bottles?
To be clear, while baby bottles may not necessarily have expiration dates, some manufacturers give a recommended shelf life for their products. And of course, the material in question will to a large extent determine how quickly the bottle’s quality starts deteriorating.
So do plastic baby bottles expire? Plastic is generally the most common type of material used by most baby bottle manufacturers. This is because plastic baby bottles, while being extremely lightweight, are durable. They’re likely to survive a few accidental slips and falls during those late night / early morning feeds.
As such, most plastic bottles have a three-year shelf life when unopened. But while plastic baby bottles are a durable option, they aren’t immune to premature wear and tear. This is because plastic easily gives in to temperature variations. Remember you’ll be heating your baby’s milk before feeding. Over time these temperature variations will cause cracking or discoloration. Either that or the markings on the bottle starts to fade. Trying to get your baby’s milk measurements right when that happens is near impossible.
That’s why it’s necessary to replace your baby’s plastic bottles if you notice any visible signs of damage. While some products allow you to replace the damaged parts, products such as the First Essentials NUK Bottles don’t. When you notice damaged parts, unfortunately, you have to purchase a new bottle altogether.
What’s the Expiration Date on Glass Baby Bottles?
Glass baby bottles also don’t have an expiration date. And they tend to have an indefinite shelf life. But you’ll need to replace the nipples as your baby grows or if they get damaged. For example, with the NUK Simply Natural Glass Bottles, you can purchase the nipples separately when necessary.
Glass baby bottles have a much sturdier construction when compared to plastic bottles. This is of course in relation to their lack of susceptibility to heat. Plus, they’re considered more hygienic. Glass baby bottles can withstand temperature variations to a large extent compared to those made of plastic.
You’ll need to be extra careful and vigilant when handling a glass baby bottle. Once it falls, that’s possibly the end of it, not to mention a safety risk for other family members.
What’s the Expiration Date on Stainless Steel Baby Bottles?
Just like glass or plastic baby feeding bottles, those made of stainless steel also don’t come with an expiration date. Their shelf life, however, when unopened is between 8 and 10 years. But stainless steel bottles have a couple of cons. Firstly, they dent easily and can’t be microwaved in case you want to warm up your baby’s milk. Also, it’s difficult to clearly see the markings for measurement purposes.
But stainless steel baby bottles are made of chemically free products making them safe to use for your child. And they’ll last considerably longer. For example, this LA Baby Stainless Steel Baby Bottle is made of food-grade stainless steel which is safe for your little one.
Should I Be Replacing My Baby Bottles Often?
Granted, baby bottles don’t come with expiration dates. But, as mentioned it’s advisable to replace your baby bottles regularly. The general consensus is that baby bottles must be replaced after every three to six months. The time frame depends on the material the bottle is made of.
Some manufacturers explicitly state when the bottle needs to be replaced. But if it’s not stated, it’s safe to follow the 3 to 6 months rule.
As a general rule of thumb, bottles made of BPA-free material can be used for around six months. Bottles made of non-BPA free materials shouldn’t be used for more than 3 months. This is because BPA has known negative health connotations. But whenever your baby’s feeding bottle is chipped, cracked or discolored, you must replace it immediately.
Can I Use Baby Bottles That Have Been Stored for a Long Time?
Is it at all possible to use baby bottles that have been stored for a long time? Again, this depends on the material the bottle is made of. Since glass baby bottles usually have an indefinite shelf life, it’s fine to use or even reuse them after they’ve been stored for a while. Simply make sure you sterilize the bottle first and replace the nipple. This is what I did when we started using those bottles from my sister.
Plastic bottles are a bit of a concern. Given that they must be replaced after 3 to 6 months, it would follow that feeding your baby from a used plastic bottle isn’t the safest thing to do. Especially if it’s been stored under hot conditions. I’d advise you to rather purchase a new set of baby bottles for your child. After all, your baby’s health comes first.
Do Baby Bottle Nipples Expire? How Often Should I Replace Them?
As I hinted earlier, baby bottle nipples don’t expire. But it’s important to replace them after some time. Given the rubbery texture they’re made of, over time they might crack, chip, or even break. This happens a lot when your baby’s teeth start growing! As you can imagine, this presents a huge choking hazard for your little one.
In any case, replacing the teats on your baby’s feeding bottle has a lot to do with the flow of milk produced as well as safety. Bottle teats come in different sizes. And each size determines the intensity of the flow of milk produced.
Newborns until the age of 3 months need teats that allow for a slow and regular milk flow to avoid choking. As your child gets older, from the 3- to 6-month mark, you must purchase a bottle teat that allows for medium flow. Older kids from 6 months can handle a fast flow of milk.
When to Replace Baby Bottle Nipple
Aside from the milk flow produced by the nipples in relation to your baby’s age, you must change the bottle nipple if you notice:
- The milk is flowing out fast in large amounts. Chances are the nipple has cracked and the hole has become bigger. Milk should always trickle in a steady flow regardless of the pace.
- The nipple has discolored which may be due to chemical reactions caused by the material. (This is common with plastic baby bottles).
- The nipple has lost shape and is thinning out due to intense sucking.
- The nipple is showing visible signs of cracking or breaking.
Also, aside from visible signs of damage on the bottle, check if the bottle-feeding process has somehow changed for your little one. It’s advisable to replace the bottle’s nipple if your little one is:
- All of a sudden irritable while feeding. Is she pushing the bottle away?
- Smacking at the bottle. This means more milk is coming out than your little one can handle.
- Taking in fewer feeds during feeding time but still appears hungry a few minutes after.
What Do Manufacturers of Baby Bottle Nipples Recommend?
Based on my research, different brands have different recommendations. For instance, Dr Brown’s Baby Bottles, which I once reviewed in this article recommend that you replace them after every 2 to 3 months or when there are signs of damage.
Can I Reuse My Baby Bottles for My Second Baby?
I wouldn’t recommend you reuse a baby bottle on your little one especially if it’s made of plastic. The quality of the plastic would have deteriorated over time. And besides, baby bottles need to be replaced every 3 to 6 months.
I would make it an exception if I’m using glass baby bottles since they’re more hygienic. But just remember that ultimately it’s YOUR decision. If you do decide to reuse your baby bottles be sure to buy a new teat for the bottle and sterilize them thoroughly before use. Have a look at this video on how to sterilize your baby bottles the right way.
What about in the case of unused bottles? Do unused baby bottles expire and can you use it for your second baby? This depends on the bottle’s brand and type of material it’s made of. Plastic bottles can last up to five years, stainless steel bottles for up to 10 years and glass bottles infinitely. (As long as they aren’t opened).
I’ll round off this article with this quick comparison table highlighting the different shelf lives of some of the products mentioned in this article.
|Brand||Bottle replacement period||Nipple replacement period|
|Comotomo||6 months||Every 3 months|
|Phillips Avent Natural Newborn Baby Bottle Starter Set||After signs of damage||Every 3 months|
|Dr Brown's Baby Bottles||After signs of damage||Every 2-3 months|
|Tommee Tippee Baby Bottles||After signs of damage||Every 2 months|
|NUK Simply Natural Glass Bottles||After signs of damage||Every 3 months|
Do baby bottles expire? The answer is no. They don’t come with expiration dates. But they will wear out after some time. The rate of deterioration happens based on the frequency of usage, storage conditions, and of course the endless cleaning of your baby bottles.
As a result, it’s safer not to reuse baby bottles. And rather purchase new ones. There are tons of baby gear you can reuse with peace of mind. Strollers, baby bedding and carriers are good examples. Baby bottles don’t necessarily have to be part of that list because of health and safety concerns. But that’s just my opinion which is based on my research. What are your thoughts?