Please don’t panic at the news today in regards to a high level of microplastics being released in baby bottles. There are many things you can do minimise this exposure — please see my tips below — but first I wanted to address the issue personally, bring some balance and try to allay your worries as best I can.
Sadly, we ALL eat, drink, ingest, absorb, breathe and inhale millions of these nano plastic particles almost every second of every day, just through ‘normal’ day to day living.
Granted, it would be utterly amazing if we could protect our infants from excessive exposure, but sadly, as soon as a baby is conceived it will be being exposed to the millions of microplastics already present inside the mother — In fact, even before conception, the male sperm and female eggs are likely to already contain them!
This article makes scary reading for sure and even indicates that a mother’s breast milk will too, be contaminated. Of course, the microplastics won’t be in such high concentration as that found in a baby’s plastic feeding bottle, but I do feel that headlines like this will send many, already stressed mothers into a complete and utter panic, which is why I felt the need to bring some balance to the subject.
Addressing the plastic baby bottle issue:
For many years you didn’t have to add formula powder directly into boiling water, but since guidelines changed due to the concern over bugs in the powdered milk, the advice was to add formula powder to boiling water. As per the instruction, you would put the boiling water into the baby’s bottle, add the powder, shake and let it cool before feeding baby. If you read the research in the link above, it’s exactly this process of high-temperature water and shaking that causes the plastic bottle to release millions of these nano microplastics into the formula.
So what can you do?
Option 1: Trying to stay in line with guidelines-
Boil water in a metal non-plastic kettle.
Sterilise the bottles as normal, whether that’s in an independent sterilising machine or one that goes in the microwave and allow the bottles, dummies etc to cool. [Just to note; in the USA, most parents put all their bottles and baby feeding equipment through the dishwasher and have no idea what a steriliser is!]
Sterilise a glass or metal container and measure into it the required amount of water for the feed.
Add the scoops of formula and shake.
Allow to cool and then decant into the sterilised, cool baby feeding bottle.
Option 2: Switch to glass feeding bottles — though this is not cheap and impractical for many.
If you do use glass bottles, remember the cuff, teat and lid of the bottles are still made of plastic so you will need to mix without shaking so the hot milk doesn’t come into contact with them.
Option 3: Use ready to feed formula and warm before adding to the baby’s feeding bottle. This is an expensive option, so not suitable for many and especially for those using specialist formulas like AR, LF or hydrolysed formulas that don’t come in the ready-made variety.
Option 4: Batch make the amount of formula as per the guidelines of adding formula to boiling water and make the full amount you need for the next day.
Store in a glass container in the fridge, decanting the amount for each feed and warming in another, non-plastic vessel before pouring into the actual feeding bottle.
Option 5: Many of my clients who have reflux and dairy intolerant babies that have been bottle-feeding, may have been using a hydrolysed formula. These formulas — especially Neocate LCP state not to add the powder to boiling water as it negatively impacts the composition of the milk, so they have been making up the formula without using the hot water method and as long as you are very careful with your hygiene surrounding making the milk, this might be an easier option for you adopt.
Statement from MAM UK:
“Thank you for contacting us regarding this study. We have used Polypropylene in our plastic feeding bottles since 2004 because it is recommended as the safest material to use for that purpose by scientists and industry experts. We are aware that the study recommends preparing formula in accordance with WHO recommendations, and we follow the latest guidance and safety standards because they are drafted using the most comprehensive and reliable scientific research.
The health of babies and infants is our absolute priority, which is why we use the safest materials in our products. For plastic baby bottles, Polypropylene is the safest material. As it is intended to come into contact with food, it is compliant with strict regulations set by the FDA and EU (EU regulation No 1935/2004, No 10/2011, No 2023/2006). It is heat-resistant, rigid, and tough. It is virtually unbreakable, odourless and skin-friendly, this is why it is suitable for food, pharmaceuticals and medical applications.
We take an active role in advancing safety regulations for baby products worldwide, including through our work as a pioneering member of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
In our role, we actively follow scientific debates and we take advice from leading experts in the field. Whilst this study will be considered by scientific experts, more research is required and Polypropylene remains the safest option.”