The Medela Calma bottle and teat are designed to be used in conjunction with breast feeding. I decided to give these bottles and teats a try after problems with my first son struggling to get him to accept a bottle of breast milk when I returned to work. I hoped this design would suit my second son better and overall this appears to be the case.
The bottle and teat are very unlike a traditional bottle and teat and indeed when you see it at first it does look a bit daunting in how to put it together and perhaps most startling the open teat at the top. When you look at it compared to a normal teat with a few tiny holes you do wonder is it going to flood my baby with milk but the little valve that is down lower in the teat base creates the vacuum stops this from happening. Milk only flows when the baby sucks properly and creates the vacuum so there is no flooding of milk the idea is to make them work for the milk in the same way that they do when they are breastfeeding.
This bottle is definitely designed for babies who are primarily breastfed but need to take a bottle sometimes. The reason I say this is due to the cost and the bottle size. Formula fed babies generally will want more milk than the 5-ounce bottle size whereas in my experience 5 ounces even when I was giving expressed milk to my first son at a year old was more than enough compared to his cousin at that point who had nearly double the amount. The bottles and teats are priced around £15 for a bottle and teat which if you needed several bottles a day would be very pricey but for one bottle every now and again is more reasonable if the baby takes the bottle better.
On the side of the bottle there are clear markings for the measurements both in ounces and milometers. These are clear and easy to read with the ounces going up in single units and the mls have 10 ml lines to indicate each measurement with a larger one for 50, 100, 150 mls. So far in the microwave sterilizing bags I use these haven't faded at all. However how well they would fair in cold water sterilizing I don't know as my beast pump bottles by Medela lost their markings in the cold water sterilizer.
You have to put several pieces together to form the teat, and you don't just pull the teat through a hole like a standard bottle. Firstly you have to stretch the teat over the first part of the valve this is a snug fit and you do need ensure the central part of the teat aligns up properly to enable the vacuum to be created or it won't go on properly either. The valve and teat section have three prongs that then slots in to the second part of the valve through three slots. This is then screwed on to the top of the bottle via the three prongs. Unlike a traditional screw top there are three prongs on the base of the valve/ teat area these do again needed to be aligned correctly to ensure a snug fit. It does feel when you are screwing the teat section on that the teat is not going to go on and be loose but after several twists the whole top section actually gets tighter and creates a good seal. If you have miss aligned it this will not happen. It all seems a bit fiddly initially but after doing this several times I quickly became used to making up the bottles this way and now find it a matter of moments to do.
Feeding with this bottle is very similar to breast feeding in that they need to have a wide mouth and their tongue down to get the large teat to the rear of the mouth like a nipple. The surface area at the top is smaller than the Tommee Tippee bottles so doesn't mimic a breast in the s shape of the breast at the top in the same way. My son initially was a little shocked to have the teat in his mouth when his dad tried to feed him his first bottle and was a bit unsure about what was happening. After about 5 minutes of trying it in and out he did give it a few sucks and then when he realised he was getting his milk out of it was more eager to try and had soon taken about 2 ounces and had had enough for that feed. On subsequent tries he has got more relaxed about using it though each time he did seem a bit disgruntle to be offered a bottle rather than the breast. We have tried him since with the Tommee Tippee closer to nature bottles and he has become even more confused by this and totally rejects these. So we went back to the Medela ones where he has felt more comfortable. Each time it does take a while for him to get a feed I would say it takes him longer to take a bottle than the breast as now that he is 16 weeks old he is quite efficient at the breast at taking a feed. However these bottles are definitely his preferred bottle for feeding expressed breast milk adn he is now quite calm when taking it compared to being upset with Tommee Tippee ones. There has been no nipple confusion following using these bottles and he definitely still prefers the breast rather than the bottle which is the way I want it to be.
Cleaning the bottles despite the various sections is relatively straightforward and the closer to nature Tommee Tippee brush I have actually is very good at cleaning it. The teat section of the brush almost seems tailor made for it and can reach all the way down the long teat area with ease to clean it.
I would definitely recommend these bottles for babies who are to be given the odd bottle of expressed breast milk due to the way it mimics the breast feeding action. It does initially look a bit daunting to assemble and give but once you get used to the way it works it really is simple to put together and use. Given its price and size I don't think these are suitable for formula feed babies. I am giving it 4 stars due to the price but it works well in all areas though takes time for the babies to learn how to use it.