Breast or bottle? While breastfeeding is best, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most babies, as a practical matter, learn to handle both. Breastfeeding moms frequently express and store milk so baby can be bottle-fed in a pinch. But as with their natural counterparts, not all bottles are created alike. Some plastic nursers are made with polycarbonate (recycling code #7), which contains Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that, according to a draft report released last week by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, has been shown to cause behavioral changes in young lab animals and interfere with puberty. BPA has been observed in some tests to leach into liquids from polycarbonate bottles that have been heated, worn down or scratched (and what baby bottle, pray tell, has not?).

As our children's environment is already chock-full of developmental hazards such as pesticides, mercury and lead, we can easily say no to polycarbonate baby bottles. And Wal-Mart has announced it will stop selling polycarbonate bottles early next year.

Second best to the breast? Nursers made of strong, heat-resistant glass, a nonreactive material which won't leach any chemicals, are now easy to be had from companies such as Evenflo, Bornfree and Dr. Brown's. 

But today's parents-on-the-go, like surfers, can use a quiver for different conditions, and safer plastic bottles are available for those times when you need something light-weight. Nursers made by Gerber and Sassy of polypropylene (PP #5), or by Playtex of low-density polyethylene (LDPE #4) are BPA-free. Do, however, be sure to check online or ask instore before you buy, as many brands may still carry polycarbonate bottles, too.

To buy glass and/or better plastic bottles, click on any of the following:  Babies R Us, Natural Baby Stores, Newborn Free, Wal-martTarget, The Baby Outlet, and Amazon.com.

Story by Mindy Pennybacker. This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.

Copyright Environ Press 2008