Best forMoms looking for a quiet, efficient pump that’s easy to use, and moms who want a high-tech pump that connects to an app for easy tracking
Top BenefitsVery quiet during use, simple controls, suction adjusts to your body and the environment, connects to MyMedela app via Bluetooth to track feedings
ConsiderationsBluetooth pairing can be tricky
Bottom lineThe Medela Sonata is an innovative smart pump that’s super quiet and easy to use. Its Responsive Pump Technology automatically adjusts suction to ensure you’re pumping consistently and efficiently, it can be connected to the MyMedela app for effortless feeding tracking and it gets the job done efficiently and effectively.
The Medela Sonata Smart Breast Pump lives up to its name. Not only is it super quiet, this sleek unit has an intuitive digital display and 10 suction levels, as well as Medela's renowned two-phase expression technology to help you pump more effectively and efficiently. And if you download the MyMedela app to your smartphone, the pump can connect to it via bluetooth, allowing you to effortlessly track pumping sessions. The integrated technology and design upgrades (more on that below) come at a price, but it's a short step up from Medela's other double electric pumps considering the improved ease of use, smart design and so-quiet-you'll-barely-notice-it motor.
For those who have never touched a breast pump, assembling one can be a daunting task. Luckily, the six pieces of the Medela Sonata’s collection bottles fit together intuitively and can be snapped together lickety-split after their initial sterilization. For those who need a little assistance (or a refresher during those sleep-deprived days of early parenthood), the pump comes equipped with a Quick Start sheet featuring a handy diagram outlining how the pieces fit together. The manual itself is quite helpful in getting you started, giving concise instructions alongside detailed diagrams, illustrations and charts. Attaching the collection bottles to the pump is also simple—each end of the pump’s tubing is coated in plastic, making them easy to slide into their designated areas. Best of all, the typically small, delicate membrane has been upgraded to a substantial sleeve-like . When asked to describe their experience assembling the Medela Sonata, all our parent testers told us it was a breeze.
Pumping should never hurt, and pain can affect your milk output. We are happy to report that each of our mom testers was able to pump without any discomfort when using the Medela Sonata and all agreed they were able to pump in a comfortable position (some pumps require a bit of contorting in order to get a proper seal). The Sonata comes with two breast shield size options, 24 mm and 27 mm, and instructions on how to determine your correct size—very important for comfortable, efficient pumping and to prevent leaks. If you find that neither of these sizes work for you, Medela offers three additional sizes, (21 mm, 30 mm and 36 mm), which can be purchased through the company’s website. All of our testers found a good fit with the breast shield options that came with the pump and said they fit comfortably against their breasts. You can also take comfort in knowing that every part of the pump that comes in contact with breastmilk is BPA-free.
While the sleek design and numerous smart features of the Medela Sonata may be intimidating at first, on a fundamental level, this pump works much like other Medela pumps. Designed with Medela's two-phase expression technology, your pumping session will begin in the Stimulation Phase, a fast pumping rhythm that helps initiate your milk flow (much like when your baby begins feeding). After two minutes, the pump will switch to the Expression Phase, a slower pumping rhythm to draw out your milk. If your milk starts flowing before the two-minute stimulation phase is up, all you have to do is push the pump’s letdown button to switch to the Expression Phase; one of our testers was a big fan of this feature. During both phases, the Sonata offers a choice of 10 vacuum levels so you can find a suction option that is comfortable for you. To personalize your pump even further, the Sonata offers two rhythm options: the Signature rhythm (based off of the hospital-grade Medela Symphony breast pump) and the Lifestyle rhythm (for longer battery life and a quieter pumping experience). Overall, we found maneuvering the controls of the pump very user-friendly and our testers agreed—they all said that adjusting the controls to their preference was a piece of cake. The soft back-lit glow of the pump’s digital display also makes it easy to use in a dark room for those late-night pumping sessions.
Getting an airtight seal between the breast shield and your breast is important in helping you pump as efficiently as possible. All our testers reported that they were able to get a strong seal with the Sonata, and everyone agreed the pump had good suction. In fact, every last tester told us their breasts felt fully drained after a pumping session with the Sonata—exactly what you want from a pump. To ensure you are pumping with optimum suction, the Medela Sonata was designed with two handy features. The first is an air leak alert. If the pump detects an air leak while you are pumping, an icon will pop up on the pump’s display and a chime will ring at a 30-second interval until the pump detects the air leak has been fixed. Instructions on possible air leak solutions are included in the manual to help you troubleshoot. The pump also features Responsive Pump Technology, which senses environment (things like altitude and pressure can affect pumping) as well as your body and will adjust itself to ensure you do not lose suction power. One mom told us she found this feature super helpful throughout her pumping experience:
While designed as a double electric pump, the Medela Sonata also gives you the option of pumping one breast at a time. All you have to do is slide the plastic covered end of your unused tube into the soft yellow plastic tubing holder (located at the apex of the tubes) and you’re good to go. None of our testers had any trouble pumping only one breast at a time.
Our testers reported no difficulty in detaching the bottles from the pump without any spills—good news as spilt breast milk really can be something to cry over. While breastmilk leaks around the breast shield can be an issue during pumping, all but one of the Medela Sonata testers reported zero leaks. The one tester who did experience leaking described it as a few drops once or twice on the rare occasion.
Since your milk doesn’t stop just because you’re not at home, you want a pump that is portable. The Medela Sonata comes with a black tote that looks more like a mini gym bag than a pump bag. It easily holds the Sonata as well as the included cooler bag, which can hold up to four collection bottles and an ice pack. Testers told us that the pump was easy to use away from home and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasted more than three hours per charge, meaning you don’t need to be near an outlet to get down to business. Bonus: You can also pump should the power go out.
What really sets the Medela Sonata apart from other double electric breast pumps is its smart technology, allowing it to connect with the MyMedela app to track your pumping sessions along with your little one’s growth. Your milk output (per breast), pump setup preferences and session stats, along with your baby’s weight, height, feeding patterns, sleep patterns and diaper output can all be logged into the app, keeping all this information in one easily accessible place. The app also allows you to export all this data into a spreadsheet that you can share—a helpful feature when your paediatrician's asking you about these things at checkups. The app also features how-tos and info about lactation, breastfeeding and parenting in general, should you need some advice when you’re, you know, raising a human. We also liked that you can access your user manual and quick-start guide through the MyMedela app in case you misplace yours or you're pumping on the go.
While the majority of testers found the app provides a personalized pumping experience, pairing pumps to phones was a bit tricky. When we experienced this same issue in our lab testing, we found the app itself very helpful in step-by-step troubleshooting. Overall, the majority of testers found the app fairly straightforward to navigate. In fact, one tester told us she wished she had been able to take advantage of this app when she was new to pumping, as all the information it provided would have been very helpful as a new mom.
We were super impressed with just how quiet the Medela Sonata was during our lab testing. It's by far the quietest double electric pump we've tested—you wouldn’t have to worry at all about waking a sleeping babe or partner when pumping in the same room. Our testers were impressed too, and felt that this added to the pump's overall value. Our editors also like that the pump features a silent mode option, so you can mute its charming chimes when pumping in slumbering company, or at the office.
Cleaning some of the smaller pump parts can be delicate work, but our editors found the size of the Sonata's parts—the membrane in particular—made things a lot easier. While membranes are often small and delicate, the membrane of the Sonata Smart Pump is quite substantial and sturdy. This makes it much easier to clean without fear of damage (damaged membranes can affect the suction power of your pump). Testers also reported zero condensation in the tubing—a common issue with pumps that requires they be rinsed and air-dried before you can reassemble and use the pump again. We also like that the manual does a good job of breaking down the different cleaning and sanitizing options and is full of helpful tips if you are approaching this for the first time.
The Medela Sonata was truly designed with the little details in mind. The pump’s modern design is both stylish and functional, featuring fine details like a discreet carrying handle on the back of the pump’s body for easy one-handed transportation and an adjustable timer that functions as a stopwatch (keeping track of how long you’ve been pumping) or a timer that counts down to a pre-set finishing time. All but one of our testers found the Medela Sonata compact and lightweight, and the majority said it's pretty easy to pack up and take on the go.
An innovative breast pump that does its primary job and a whole lot more, the Medela Sonata was a hit with editors and testers alike. Moms who tried the Sonata unanimously agreed the pump’s overall ease of use and quality were well above average and everyone said it performed better than other pumps they had used previously. Every tester told us that not only was this pump worthy of the Today’s Parent Approved seal, but that they would recommend it to other moms and moms-to-be. Throughout testing, our editors were really impressed with the Sonata's quality of materials, functionalities and the thoughtful details. The whisper-quiet volume alone is a game-changer, but when you also consider the small improvements—like the larger, sturdier membrane and the more substantial bottle holders—and the impressive technological advancements—namely, the Responsive Pump Technology and the ability to sync with the MyMedela app—the Medela Sonata Smart Breast Pump has taken a large step forward in bringing breast pumps into the 21st century.
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