Safe Mama has put together another one of her famous “Cheat Sheets” to help answer this question:
Dear SafeMama,I’ve switched to BPA free bottles but now I am wondering about the bottle nipples. Are they safe? Is there BPA in Silicone?
I’ve gotten this question quite a few times so I thought I would address it since it seems to be a concern for parents who are taking BPA into consideration when buying for their little ones. Bottle nipples tend to come in two materials. One is Silicone. Silicone is the popular choice for parents these days and with good reason. Silicone is soft and easy to sterilize and importantly is non-porous. not to mention it does not contain Bisphenol-A, Phthalates or PVC so it is a safe choice for your baby. When buying silicone nipples, opt for products that use “medical grade” silicone when possible to ensure the silicone was made with the highest standards.
Other bottle nipples are made with Latex. Infants sometimes take to latex versions easier and there are also pacifiers made with it. Latex is also BPA free but there have been some research showing that over time, latex can leach carcinogens called nitrosamines. The FDA regulates levels allowed in latex bottle nipples but some levels are permissible so medical grade silicone is the better alternative. It has also been suggested that exposure to latex early in life can trigger a latex allergy.
Green Living also provides a good explanation for choosing silicone nipples:
As for bottle nipples, clear silicone is preferable to plastic or yellow rubber. The rubber nipples tend to develop cracks faster than silicone, creating a harbor for bacteria. Rubber nipples may also release carcinogens and cause allergic reactions. Not only do clear silicone bottle nipples hide less bacteria, they are heat-resistant and can be safely put in a dishwasher. Some manufacturers still produce nipples made of soft PVC that contain phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals used as plastic softeners. You'll want to avoid these.
Here's more detailed background info on silicone from our favorite silicone experts, the Silikids company:
- Silicone is hygienic and hypoallergenic. Its rubber like material is safe, durable and pliable, there are no open pores to harbor bacteria.
- Silicone is easy to use and to clean.
- Silicone is microwave or freezer safe/dishwasher friendly.
- Silicone does not fade or scratch.
- Silicone is extremely temperature resistant.
UPDATE (2/12/08): We've received the following question from several people.
QUESTION: What about the Nautursutten natural rubber pacifiers? Don't they carry the same risk of containing nitrosamines like all other latex rubber pacifiers and nipples?
ANSWER: We contacted the Natursutten company and this is what they told us:
No. The difference between natural rubber and conventional latex is that no chemicals or artificial ingredients are used in this process, just water, air and high temperatures. Also, the company states that the latex protein that on rare occasions can provoke an allergy, is washed out of the rubber they use.