Q: What’s The Best Bottle For a Baby With Down Syndrome?
A: The one that works!
Since Noah was born I have become quite the expert on baby bottles. In fact, I have no shame in admitting that I know way more than a man should know bottles. 🙂
Lost in a sea of baby bottles….
I know the difference between slow-flow and fast flow; I know that some bottles have BPA in them (although I’m not really sure what BPA is, other than that it’s bad for you!) I know that some baby bottle nipples are naturally shaped (meaning they are shaped like a woman’s breast) so that a baby can latch on to them more easily. U know there are traditional shaped nipples, vented shaped nipples, multi flow nipples, slotted multi flow nipples, and even adjustable nipples! There are orthodontic nipples, elongated nipples, bell shaped nipples, latex nipples, and silicone nipples (Wow, that’s a lot of nipples!)
Sure, I may know way more than any man should know about baby bottles, but it’s all good. There’s no shame in my baby bottle game. But you’re probably wondering why (or how) I’ve become such an expert on baby bottles. Let me explain.
Finding the right bottle for our a baby with Down syndrome
Although some children born with Down syndrome aren’t able to breast feed, we were fortunate in that Noah could. However, when it was time for him to start using a bottle we had a hard time finding one that worked well for him. One of the characteristics of Down syndrome is hypotonia (low muscle tone) which can make it hard for children with Down syndrome to use a bottle (and breast feed.)
In addition to his low muscle tone, we also had some fear that he has aspirating while drinking from his bottle and had to have a barium swallow study preformed on him to rule it out (if you’ve never seen a swallow study before, you can watch a short video of Noah’s here.) It turns out he wasn’t aspirating at all, rather he was just drinking way to fast. In other words, we needed to slow this cowboy down!
So here we were on a mission to find the best bottle for our son with Down syndrome. I almost wore my fingers out searching google for the best bottles for children with Down syndrome. Then I thought we were going to have to take out a second mortgage on our new house just so we could buy (and try out) all of these different baby bottles.
Seriously, if you came over to our house you’d think we were baby bottle testers considering how many different bottles we have stocked piled in our cabinet. To be honest it was sort of frustrating trying to find a bottle that worked well with our son.
We would buy one and milk would spill all over him (and us) when he drank from it. We’d buy another and he’d almost pass out trying to drink from of it due to how hard he had to suck to get anything out of it. We’d get another and he’d made all sorts of scary gasping / choking sounds (hence the reason we did the sallow study.) All I wanted to do was find a bottle that worked well for my son, and allowed him to eat comfortably, but it seemed like such a challenge. I wondered if other parents had such a hard time finding a bottle that worked well.
After much trail and error we finally found a few great bottles that seemed to really due to the trick.
So which bottle worked best?
I personally think all the bottle reviews you’ll find out there are irrelevant. Every baby is unique and has different feeding needs. We were using using a speech / feeding therapist with Noah and would bring Noah’s bottle in with us to his speech therapy appointments so she could watch him drink from it and give us feedback on how that particular bottle was working for him.
If it wasn’t working out, we would try a different one the next time. We repeated this process until we found one that worked best. In addition, Noah’s speech therapist had us use a Z-Vibe to perform the Beckman Oral Motor exercises on him, which helped him to gain additional muscle tone in his mouth, therefore helping him drink from his bottle (and breastfeed) better.
I’ll mention the three bottles that worked best for our son (and a bonus 4th bottle), but treat this list (and all the bottle reviews online) with a grain of salt. They provide a good starting point, but you’ll want to work with your child’s speech therapist and/or pediatrician in order to find the best bottle for your child.
I’ve learned that bottles are pretty much like everything else, what works well for one child may not (and probably won’t) necessarily work well with your child. I think choosing the best bottle for a child with Down syndrome (or any child) boils down to trail and error. Yes, it will be costly. Yes, you may get frustrated when you spend money on a bottle only to have to shelf it because it didn’t work well with your child (even though the online reviews said it was “the best.”) Yes, you’ll go through a lot of bibs as milk spills all over the place. But in the end, it’s all worth it.
As you can see in today’s video, Noah really enjoys drinking from his bottle, and feeding time has become a much more positive time for us.
With that being said, if you are looking for a good bottle for your son or daughter with Down syndrome, here are a few that we had successes with during our bottle hunt. Feel free try one (or none) of them out. Like I said, these are just what worked for us, and may / may not work well for your child.
1. Philips AVENT BPA Free Classic Polypropylene Bottles
The Philips AVENT BPA Free Classic Bottle is the one Noah’s using in today’s video (and the one we have stuck with.) It’s a great bottle, and the only thing I don’t like about the AVENT bottle is that it’s short and fat (instead of tall and skinny like most other bottles) which makes it hard for him to hold by himself. However, you’ll notice in today’s video that he’s actually holding the bottle by himself for the first time! I’m so proud of this little boy. This is our go to bottle for Noah, and a winner for us (and him!) 🙂
2. Playtex Drop-ins Nurser Bottles
The Playtex Drop Ins Nurser Bottle uses little “drop in” bottle liners that are supposed to help keep the air out of the bottle while your baby is drinking from them. My wife really liked them, but I personally didn’t. The bottles are fine, I’m just not a fan of the liners. I think they’re messy, and I found it sort of hard to push the liner up into the bottle as he was drinking. My hand was to big to fit inside the bottom of the bottle to push the liner up so I had to use a wooden spoon. To much work if you ask me. (Like I mentioned above, this is just my personal opinion. They are great bottles, I just didn’t like the liners.)
3. The First Years Breastflow Bottle
The First Years Breastflow Bottle is another great bottle. They are designed to mimic a mothers breast, which they claim allows for the breast milk or formula to flow naturally like their mothers breast. Noah did really well with this bottle, although not quite as well as he did with the AVENT bottle I mentioned above.
Bouns Bottle: Medela Storage Bottles
I wanted to mention these Medela Storage Bottles briefly. Although they are meant to store breast milk from the Medela Breast pump system, we found they worked really well for Noah once he was a little older (10-12 months) since he wasn’t really having a problem drinking from a bottle at that point and we weren’t as concerned with flow as we were when he was younger.
I liked these bottles because they are so small which enabled Noah (and his small hands) to hold on to them by himself. (The other bottles I mentioned are much bigger, and he had a hold time wrapping his small hand around them, and holding them by himself when they were full of liquid due to how heavy they became.) The only drawback is these bottles only hold 2 ounces so if you are doing a typical 8 ounce feeding you have to fill them up four times.
This is ok with me since Noah had such a great since of accomplishment holding and drinking from his bottle with no help from mom or dad.
How about you?
What bottles have you tried and liked (or disliked?) Did you have a hard time finding your child a bottle that worked well for them? Take a second to leave a comment and tell us about your baby bottle experience.