What is the Best BPA-free Baby Bottle?
Image: George Doyle/Thinkstock
Last week we answered questions about reusing baby bottles. Especially BPA-free baby bottle hand-me-downs are probably safer for your baby than new bottles, because new bottles are likely to leach chemicals at a greater rate than the used ones (in good condition). And you do the environment a favor by re-using (but remember to replace nipples often for your baby's safety).
Advice on Looking for New Baby Bottles
If no hand-me-down bottles in decent condition are available when you are weaning or unable to breast-feed, you will have to enter the fray of alternatives on the market. We certainly support the effort to look for BPA-free substitutes. As always, the science cannot clearly prove that the low levels of BPA exposure we face over a lifetime cause a real risk, but the precautionary principle suggests we must avoid even the potential for risk where there is reason for concern -- as there is with BPA and other endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Glass bottles are the safest from a chemical exposure point of view, but cannot beat plastics for break-proof safety in the modern, on-the-go lifestyle. Polypropylene has a longer history of use, which has earned it a reputation for low to moderate concern -- both for the plastic and for the chemicals in the industrial process of making PP.
Eastman has screened Tritan with tests that are approved as part of EPA's Tier 1 test battery, and reports that Tritan shows no endocrine activity. PES appears to have a powerful marketing machine; but the plastic is made from bisphenol S (BPS), which some studies have ranked as a potent anti-androgen in the same category with BPA.
How Do I Know What Plastics are in Baby Bottles?
Hopefully the manufacturer or supplier provides information about the plastics used in their bottles right on the packaging. If this is not the case, be suspicious: manufacturers making efforts to use safer substitutes usually brag about it.
Polypropylene bottles, likely to have a milky hue, will be marked with plastic recycling code #5, while most other substitutes will have the #7 code often dismissed as "bad" because of its associations with polycarbonate, the BPA plastic. But #7 is really a catch-all for plastics that do not fit into the other categories. You will find both honey-hued polyethersulfone (PES) and Tritan baby bottles carrying the #7 code.
Our bottom line: we give a thumbs up to polypropylene and Tritan, due to the negative results in widely accepted tests for endocrine activity. We fear that PES will follow in the footsteps of polycarbonate as the evidence builds against BPA substitute BPS, and would avoid supporting its use in sensitive applications such as baby bottles.
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