Most helpful critical review
50 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Safe but imperfect...and expensive.
on March 6, 2008
I wanted bpa (bisphenol a) free bottles for my daughter born last October, and at the time, Born Free (BF) were all I found. Fortunately, there are now more options: [...] But back to BF.
--Bpa free plastic, plus a glass option.
--Silicone nipples are "modern". By this I mean they have a wide base at the bottom of the long nipple (like Avent). As opposed to the Evenflo glass bottles, which still have what I call the "1950's" nipple that our parents used (i.e., short stubby nipple without a "base" of any kind to mimic the breast, by contrast).
--The anti-gas "vent": I find this totally worthless. I tried Avent, Adiri, First Years, and Evenflo, to name a few. However by the time I was set to try Dr. Browns, I decided that bpa free trumped everything else, so I went with Born Free and bought a full contingent of these bottles. The Born Free system works no better than Avent (whose bottles don't have a "system" (meaning there are no special inserts or vents)), and less well than the First Years Breastflow bottle (I loved this bottle - very little gas. Wish they had safe plastic!). I don't mind cleaning extra parts if that's what it takes to get bpa free and anti-gas, but boy, you better not make me clean an extra part that provides no material benefit. BTW, the instructions say to make sure the vent is "open." Folks, the vent consists of a vertical slit in what I'll call the "mini-nipple" of the interior silicone vent. If anyone knows how to "open" a slit, I'd be real interested to hear it.
--Cleaning brushes: while one does not need to purchase the BF bottle brush (Munchkin's is more than adequate - better even - at $3 or so), I've found the nipple brush is very useful. Munchkin's bottle/nipple brush consists of stiff bristles. While this is fine for silicone nipples, BF's specialized vent has the aforementioned "mini-nipple" which is very delicate. I've always been afraid that even gentle brushing with the bristle brush would tear the slit (the silicone is very thin here). Thus, if one wants BF's soft foam nipple brush (which does indeed work well), one will pony up $14.99 list for not only the nipple brush, but also the bottle brush. They are not sold separately. They are made of cheap foam with plastic handles - that's IT! - and they wear out quickly. Outrageous to all intelligent parents out there. The cost of producing these has to be infinitesimal. Why gouge the consumer for brushes to clean BF's bottles? Insulting and greedy, and counterproductive to generating brand loyalty.
--Price: more on the subject of greed. While I am eternally grateful to the man who brought these to market (thus putting pressure on other mfgrs to compete), I am grossly offended by Born Free's pricing structure. Let's consider the fact that the only competitive advantage these initially had (as there are now competitive alternatives; again, see link above) was 1) bpa free plastics and 2) a glass bottle with a modern, wide-base nipple. Passing on to the consumer the cost of creating a bpa free bottle is one thing, but when one considers that the other components are no different from other manufacturers (glass is glass - cheap! - and silicone nipples are a dime a dozen), the price structure is insulting to parents' intelligence. For example, on the Born Free website (all my comments are based on list price - you can often get them cheaper on Amazon, for example, but it is the manufacturer's suggested retail that I'm analyzing here), a two pack of 9 oz plastic bottles is the same price as a two pack of glass 9 oz bottles - $19.99. Glass bottles and silicone nipples (with a worthless vent, don't forget). Contrast this with Evenflo's 8 oz glass bottle three pack for $4.99. These come with rubber nipples, so add back in 3 replacement Evenflo silicone nipples at $3.50 (highest Amazon price I saw, for four nipples) and you are at $8.49: less than half the price for one more bottle and two extra nipples. Why, I ask myself? Because of the vent? The wide neck? Neither is the company's top-marketing point, rather, the bpa-free plastic is. In fact, the BF glass bottles should cost LESS than the corresponding BF bpa-free plastic bottles. It just makes sense. And as other reviewers have noted, the replacement silicone nipples (all bottles come with stage 1 nipples; eventually, you need stage 2, 3...) are more expensive than the corresponding silicone nipples of comparable brands. Here again, there is NO COMPETITIVE DIFFERENCE in these silicone nipples. The fact that they are slightly different in diameter from, say, Avent only makes one think you need to buy BF (having now read other reviewers, I'll try Dr. Browns when we get to stage 3). List price for two BF nipples (regardless of flow) is $6.99. A four pack is $12.99. Woo hoo. OUTRAGEOUS! And the $15 bottle brushes? As per above - puh-lease.
--Lack of replacement glass bottle bases - let's face it, these break. It would be REALLY NICE to be able to purchase just the glass base, without the vent, nipple and cap, for a discounted price, as a service to their customers.
The bottom line: there are other options now from MAM (the UltiVent) and Nuby by Luv n' Care. I also see that Dr. Browns now offers glass. In the breast pumping arena, all Medela's parts and containers (which convert to bottles with, unfortunately, 1950's nipples) are also bpa free. Thus, when we need more 9 oz bottles, I won't be buying BF again on principle, which is too bad, as they pioneered the bpa offering (or at least the marketing thereof), and normally that would be enough to buy my loyalty.