Dr. Brown Baby Bottles: Why They Leak & How To Stop It

Choosing a bottle for your baby can be a complicated thing. There are so many on the market that promise to be the best and to make your child the happiest.

Dr. Brown’s bottles are the number one selling bottles in the US as well as the leading brand recommended by pediatricians.

Dr. Brown’s bottles, while great for gassy or colicky babies, have a tendency to leak. Leaking bottles can make mealtimes more stressful for everyone involved.

Why do Dr. Brown bottles leak? Most of the time, Dr. Brown’s bottles leak because of the venting system. If you are using the wrong type of nipple flow level or don’t properly and securely attach all bottle parts, you may experience leaks. Also, warming or shaking the bottle with internal parts in place will cause leaks.

Almost all leaks from Dr. Brown’s bottles can be fixed fairly easily with just a few adjustments. Find out how to correct this fixable problem in the following. 

Why & When Dr. Brown Bottles May Leak

The most common reason these bottles may leak is due to the venting system. The venting system in these bottles helps reduce air getting into the nipple, resulting in less gas for your infant.

However, if the venting system isn’t securely attached, the bottle won’t tighten completely, which can result in a big mess.

Dr. Brown bottles might also leak if the nipple size is too large for your child and milk is coming out faster than the baby can drink it. 

Dr. Brown Bottle Parts & Design

Dr. Brown’s bottles have a unique insert that can be put into the bottle to help circulate air better and prevent gas for your baby. The insert consists of two parts: a sort of cap-like vent and a reservoir that looks like a straw.

The vent has a reservoir bulb and reservoir tube. The insert and reservoir tube need to be pressed together very tightly in order for the vent to work properly. The insert is held in place by a nipple collar that secures the nipple to the vent.

The nipple collar, rather than the nipple as in other bottles, directs air away from the vent and to the bottom of the bottle so that less air is ingested during feeding.

Dr. Brown’s bottles also come with a travel disc to prevent spills when traveling and a cap to cover the nipple to keep it sanitized. 

Leaking During Feeding

Dr. Brown’s previous bottle models MUST be used with the vent system or the bottle will leak considerably.

They have made a new bottle Options bottle that allows you to use the vent system if desired, but it is not essential if you choose not to use it.

A bottle might leak if the insert and tube are not connected well or if the nipple collar is not tightened enough. Leaking can also occur if the nipple size is too small or too large. 

Leaking While Warming

Leaking while warming a bottle is pretty common. Pressure changes can cause leaks out of the collar. Dr. Brown’s recommends removing the insert and vent and put a travel disk over the bottle to shake it or warm in hot water. 

Leaking After Shaking

The bottle is probably leaking after shaking because the vent is still in the bottle as you shake it. Remove the vent system, add a travel disk to the top, then add the nipple collar and a cap to mix the formula in a bottle.

If you don’t have travel disks for your bottles, you can get some on Amazon.

Also, always make sure that the bottle cap and collar are on tightly. 

Leaking When Traveling

Because the vent in a Dr. Brown’s bottle is open, it needs to be upright or it will leak. If traveling a short distance, place a travel disk over the vent and under the nipple and then screw the nipple collar on tightly.

If you’re traveling for a longer time and cannot guarantee the bottle will remain upright, Dr. Brown’s recommends that you remove the entire vent system, use a travel disk, and use a Storage Travel Cap to protect the milk. 

Dr. Brown’s Bottle: Milk in Vent

Air passes through the vent in Dr. Brown’s bottles. The vent circulates air away from the nipple so that air is kept away from the milk, thus producing less gas for your baby. Milk should not be in the vent.

Gas is widely assumed to be related to colic and fussier babies, so this design can be a lifesaver for sleep-deprived parents trying to keep their babies content. 

How To Use Dr. Brown’s Bottles

Dr. Brown’s bottles have a couple more steps for assembly than most of their competitors. To assemble a Dr. Brown’s bottle:

  1. Set the bottle upright on a solid surface.
  2. Press the straw-like tube into the insert, and rest it on the top of the bottle. If you are about to feed your baby, fill the bottle with milk or formula before inserting the vent.
  3. Place the nipple inside the nipple collar, and make sure it is sealed all the way around.
  4. Screw the nipple collar over the vent insert and tighten.

Dr. Brown’s bottles also come with parts for travel if you are on the go. 

How To Warm Dr. Brown’s Bottles

Dr. Brown’s bottles can be warmed in a variety of ways. Remember to always remove the vent system to help prevent leaks.

You can warm a Dr. Brown’s bottle on the stove in hot water. Heat water in a pot that is about equal to the amount of milk in the bottle. Allow the water to warm to about 98 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the bottle to warm.

You can also warm a bottle by running it under hot water from your faucet.

Dr. Brown’s sells bottle warmers that are used to heat a bottle faster using steam. They recommend always testing the temperature of the milk on the inside of your wrist before feeding your baby.

Can You Boil Dr. Brown Bottles? 

You can heat Dr. Brown’s bottles on the stove. However, putting a bottle into water that has reached a boil will result in making milk too hot for an infant to drink.

You want the milk to be about 98℉, which is body temperature. 

Are Dr. Brown’s Bottles Microwave Safe? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns very explicitly against microwaving any bottle. The outside of the bottle may feel barely warm to the touch while the milk inside could be scalding.

Microwaves heat unevenly, which could result in injury to your baby. There is also some research that the microwave can change the composition and nutrients in breast milk. 

How To Prevent Leaks With Dr. Brown’s Bottles

Dr. Brown’s bottles come with travel disks for transporting milk or formula.

If a bottle is leaking during feedings, make sure the straw reservoir is firmly attached to the vent and that it is all screwed on well with the nipple collar. Leaking could also occur if the nipple isn’t secure in the nipple collar. 

How To Clean Dr. Brown’s Bottles

Dr. Brown bottles are all top-rack dishwasher safe. They can also be washed by hand with hot water and detergent.

If cleaning by hand, use the brush that comes in your bottle packaging to clean out the reservoir straw correctly.

Dr. Brown’s sells a microwave sterilizer where you can clean with hot water and detergent and then steam in the microwave. They also sell a machine that sterilizes the bottles by itself. 

Do You Need To Sterilize Dr. Brown’s Bottles? 

Dr. Brown’s recommends sterilizing new bottles before you use them for the first time.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends sterilizing bottles after every use for babies under 3 months or for those who might have weakened immunity. 

How Often Do You Sterilize Dr. Brown’s Bottles?

The CDC recommends sterilizing bottles after every use if your baby is under 3 months. Dr. Brown’s recommends sterilizing bottles in the following situations:

  • If your baby is sick
  • If the bottle has come in contact with a dirty surface
  • If you have traveled with the bottle
  • If the bottle has had breastmilk or formula in it longer than the recommended time. 

How To Sterilize Dr. Brown’s Bottles

To sterilize Dr. Brown’s bottles, rinse them with hot water and detergent then place them in a microwave sterilizer or a sterilizing machine. Using steam to clean the bottle is the best way to sterilize it.

Dishwashers that use high heat and steam to clean could also be used to sterilize a bottle. 

When To Replace Bottle Nipples

Nipples should be checked every month or so. If any cracks are present, the bottles should be replaced immediately. Dr. Brown’s recommends changing nipples out every 3 months or so to keep them in good working order. 

Dr. Brown Bottles Without Vent

You can remove the vent from your babies bottles when you feel that feeding habits have improved to a level you are all comfortable with.

Dr. Brown’s advises that it’s okay for vents to be removed when babies are able to sit up on their own, when they have started eating solid foods, and when they aren’t showing any signs of colic, gassiness, or reflux.

These will happen at different ages for different babies, but usually, the vent can be removed at 6-8 months. The advantages to removing the vents are that babies can drink a bit faster and there are fewer parts to clean after each feeding.

Dr. Brown’s Bottles Blue vs. Green

Dr. Brown’s has two different kind of bottles: one is green and one is blue. The blue bottle is not able to be used without a vent. If you use it without a vent, it will leak.

The bottles with the green vents can be used with or without the vent. Once a baby is no longer colicky or gassy, the green vent can be removed without fear of leaking. 

Related Questions:

Do You Have to Burp Baby When Using Dr. Brown’s Bottles? 

If using Dr. Brown’s bottles, burping doesn’t need to happen as frequently as when you are using a bottle that doesn’t have an anti-colic device.

However, Dr. Brown’s does still recommend that you burp babies after feeding. Their website even has three methods they recommend for safe burping practices. 

Do Dr. Brown’s Bottles Reduce Gas?

Dr. Brown’s bottles are clinically shown to reduce gas in babies. A study of 1,000 UK mom’s found that 75% of babies with colic whose parents switched to Dr. Brown’s bottles saw an improvement in gassiness in three feedings or less.

This can be life-changing to tired parents of colicky infants. 


Dr. Brown’s bottles are the number one selling brand of bottles in the United States. They are also the number one pediatrician-recommended brand in the US.

Despite their popularity, many parents have complained that they leak. Hopefully, you feel equipped after all this information to make America’s top brand of bottle work better for you and your baby.