When a baby nurses, breast milk is body temperature. So naturally, babies often prefer bottles of warm milk over cold. But don’t go running for your microwave yet! Using it to heat breast milk or formula is a no-no. Microwaves can create hot spots in liquid and scald your baby’s mouth.
Enter bottle warmers. They quickly and uniformly heat a chilled bottle, freezer bag of milk or refrigerated baby food, so it’s safe to use right away.
Some people say that you don’t need a bottle warmer — and for some families, that may be true. But just as rice is easier to make in a rice cooker than a pot, formula, breast milk and baby food can easily be popped into a bottle warmer, taking most of the guesswork out of preparing baby’s bottle.
Consult the experts, and they’ll say you don’t need a baby bottle warmer. But when it’s 3 a.m. and your little bundle-of-screaming-joy refuses to take that too-cold formula or expressed breast milk, you might beg to differ. Pop the bottle in one of these warmers, and within minutes, you’ve got a ready-to-go bottle at the perfect temperature. These gadgets not only get the job done quickly, but they also ensure that the milk is free of the dangerous hot spots that heating bottles in the microwave or boiling water can cause. Plus, many models have special breast milk settings to make sure that your liquid gold is warmed up without zapping its nutrients. Check out our picks to find the best bottle warmer for you.
Nothing can soothe a baby quicker than a nice warm bottle. Finding that perfect temperature isn’t always easy, though. If you overheat the milk and burn your baby’s tender mouth, you’ll feel guilty for weeks, and the next several feedings may be painful and challenging for your baby.
However you’ve chosen to go about feeding, and wherever your baby is in their weaning, you’ll probably want all the help you can get when making sure that your baby is well-fed, day after day. A bottle warmer for baby may seem like a luxury until you think of just how much time you spend preparing bottles.
A lot goes into the making of a perfect bottle that your baby will guzzle happily. One of the biggest aspects is temperature. In this in-depth buyer’s guide, we will cover the best baby bottle warmers that will not only help you avoid scalding your baby or offering them too-cold milk but save you loads of your precious time.
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Do you need a baby bottle warmer?
If you are making up formula to feed your baby, you shouldn’t need a bottle warmer, as the government advice is to make a fresh formula for every feed. Because the formula isn’t sterile, it’s recommended that you make it as your baby needs it, using water at 70ºC, and to use it within two hours. However, if you are using ready-to-use formula cartons or expressed milk – which, according to the NHS, can be stored in the fridge for up to five days at 4°C or lower – you might want to warm the milk up before feeding your baby. Whether or not you need a bottle warmer depends on whether your baby wants heated milk, and how happy you are with just using a jug of hot water to raise the milk’s temperature.
What you need to know about bottle warmers
- Prep the baby bottle first. Most bottle warmers can’t defrost frozen breast milk and the ones that can still overheat it, resulting in a loss of nutrients. It’s better to thaw frozen milk in a bowl of warm water or the fridge overnight before using the warmer.
- Read the fine print. With improper use, almost all bottle warmers can overheat and scald milk, resulting in a breakdown of nutrients. Be sure to read directions carefully and remove the bottle promptly.
- Make sure to test it. While a baby bottle warmer can be a big help, you will always need to test the final temperature of your baby’s bottle or food before offering it to your little one. Shake a few drops on your inner wrist is the best way — it should feel lukewarm, never hot.
- Don’t use the microwave. Never warm milk or baby food by boiling or warming it in a microwave‚ which heats the milk or formula unevenly, causing hot spots. A bottle that feels tepid on the outside may be scorching at its centre, causing your baby’s mouth to burn, and destroying the nutrients in milk.
While it’s tempting to go high tech, remember that you’re trying to simplify your life. Your bottle warmer should make warming milk or baby food much easier than sitting a bottle in a bowl of hot water.
Types of baby bottle warmer
Standard baby bottle warmers
These are the most common type and will heat one bottle of milk (or jar of food). You place the bottle in the central vessel of the warmer, fill around it with water from a jug, and switch it on. An element heats the water, which in turn heats the bottle. These warmers normally have an indicator light which goes off when the milk reaches the right temperature, and a thermostat, which keeps the temperature of the water constant. Most will need descaling regularly unless you use softened water. It’s useful to buy one with a timer, so you know how long the milk has been in – not all warmers have these. If you think you’ll be using the bottle warmer to heat jars of food as well as milk, choose one that has an adaptor for holding jars at an easily reachable height – otherwise, you can end up reaching down into the hot warmer for your jar. Some warmers have the facility to heat food in a bowl, too.
‘Feeding-system’ bottle warmers
These are more sophisticated than the standard type. They heat milk in the same way, but also have a cooler section which keeps a couple of filled bottles chilled and ready for warming.
Portable baby bottle warmers
These are the simplest type of bottle warmer available. They allow you to warm up a bottle easily when you’re out and about, although the milk will generally take longer to warm up than in other types of warmer.
Car bottle warmers
In-car bottle warmers can be plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter or power socket, and have a webbing strap or wrap which fits around the bottle of milk or jar of baby food. They’re not quick, though, and you need to plan. Otherwise, you could have 15 minutes of hungry screaming.
Thermos produces a bottle warmer which works like a flask. It’s made up of two sections: an inner flask, and a lid deep enough to hold a bottle. Before you go out, fill the flask with boiling water and attach the lid. When you need to heat the bottle of milk, remove the lid, put the bottle in it, and then fill around it with the hot water from the flask. The milk can take just a few minutes to heat up. The water should stay sufficiently hot for a few hours to warm the bottle.
Best Bottle Warmers of 2020
Philips Avent Fast Baby Bottle Warmer
With the Philips Avent bottle warmer, all you have to do is add water to the reservoir, turn the dial, and wait three minutes. It circulates the water continuously to avoid hot spots, giving it a high safety score. Nothing is worse than accidentally feeding your baby scalding milk.
This gentle method ensures even heating and preserves breast milk’s nutrients. The Avent has a defrost mode for frozen milk, too. It’s critical to keep in mind that the amount of time it takes to warm a bottle will depend on whether the fluid is cold or frozen, how much is in the bottle, and what kind of container is used. Three minutes might not work each time, but overall, the Avent works fast and heats nicely.
The bottle warmer fits Avent bottles and a variety of others, including Tommee Tippee and Comotomo. You can also heat baby food in the warmer. At this price point, you are getting your money’s worth.
While the simple and practical design makes it easy to warm milk in the middle of the night, the warmer doesn’t have a timer. Instead, it has a blinking light to signal when the milk is ready. If you’re not careful, you could miss the flash and overheat the liquid. I used a timer on my phone as a backup.
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First Years 2-in-1 Simple Serve Bottle Warmer
You’ll probably use a bottle warmer for about a year and a half. But investing in an expensive bottle warmer is not an option for everyone. That’s why we chose First Years 2-in-1 Simple Serve Bottle Warmer. For a low price, you get a quality warmer that heats quickly.
All you have to do is fill up the reservoir and wait for the steam to warm up the milk. With its sleek profile, you can place the warmer in the nursery or on the kitchen counter. You can even use the supplied basket to sanitize pacifiers.
The milk warmer accommodates a wide range of bottles, including Tommee Tippee and Comotomo. It also has an automatic shutoff for added safety.
However, it can be hard to clean, and the reservoir can become clogged after a few uses. The reason for this might be using tap water in the repository. Buy a gallon of distilled water and steam it instead.
Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Portable Baby Bottle Warmer
For warmed milk on the go, you’ll need the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Portable Travel Baby Bottle Warmer. I love that you can throw this warmer in your diaper bag and go. The simple design doesn’t require a power source, so you warm bottles anywhere.
The design resembles a soup Thermos, except the Tommee Tippee bottle warmer looks like it belongs on the shelves of REI instead of a kids’ lunch bag.
The warmer uses a two-part system with a stainless steel thermal flask and a plastic cover. The container holds about 12 ounces of water and keeps the liquid hot for 10 hours.
Before heading out, fill the warmer with hot water. Once you need a bottle, pour the water from the thermal container into the lid. Then place the bottle in hot water and wait a few minutes. It’s essential to test the milk before giving the bottle to your baby. Once that’s done, the formula or breast milk is ready to go.
The Tommee Tippee bottle warmer is also entirely compatible with your favourite baby bottle, regardless of the brand.
Kiinde Kozii Bottle and Breast Milk Warmer
This warmer uses a water bath to heat bottles. When the bottle reaches the ideal temperature, the water recedes into the reservoir and stops heating the milk. You can fill up the tank and warm a few bottles before refilling again, making the device ideal for multiple babies.
Baby Gear Lab chose this warmer as an Editor’s Choice pick due to its ease of cleaning, safety features, and consistent milk temperatures. The convection heating (no steam) warms around the milk and has an automatic shutoff to avoid overheating.
Depending on the initial temperature of the milk, heating can take longer than other warmers, but when it’s finished, the milk has fewer hot spots. Another safety feature is its timer, but some users report that the alert is difficult to hear.
The warmer has versatile bottle-size capabilities and warms pouches of breast milk, too. Some parents combine the warmer with Kiinde breast milk pouches. The pouches hook up to your breast pump, making the transition from storage to warming easy and mess-free.
Even though the Kiinde is simple and effective, some users have said that the reservoir is hard to clean and can break. With a more expensive price tag, it might not be the ideal choice for those on a budget. But if you’re looking for a warmer that’s safe, fast, and consistent, then the price tag might be worth it.
- Brown’s Deluxe Baby Bottle Warmer
Dr Brown’s is better known for its baby bottles, but its Deluxe warmer is just as impressive. It has an easy-to-use LCD panel featuring easy-touch buttons with a one-key start function. The warmer automatically shuts off after eight minutes and has cycle memory, so it sets your warming to the previous cycle each time. The set-and-forget method will save you time if you use the same amount of milk each feeding.
Audio and visual signals let you know the warming is complete. I love the countdown timer, too. Altogether, these high-tech features make it perfect for parents who want a deluxe warmer but don’t want to spend a ton of money.
Dr Brown’s Deluxe Warmer is adjustable for different bottles but won’t fit Tommee Tippee or Comotomo.
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Our Baby Bottle Warmers Necessary?
I know what it’s like to look at a baby gadget you spent a lot of money on sitting in the corner gathering dust. Especially when you’re a new mom, you tend to err on the side of just getting that extra bit of baby gear rather than feeling like you’re shortchanging your child in any way.
But by the time baby number two comes around, you might be seriously wondering where the line is between “helpful lifesaver” and “useless waste of money.”
To help you decide whether a bottle warmer is worth getting, consider the following:
- The number of children: Twins or more will likely need one, whereas single babies could do without.
- The question of consistency: If you’re the only one who’ll be doing it, heating bottles under warm tap water might be fine. But if your baby is frequently cared for by others, it’s a nice way to keep things consistent.
- Frequency of use: There’s no point investing in a bottle warmer if you seldom need to heat any bottles. If your child is still breastfeeding or enjoys cold bottles just as well, you can skip the warmer Likewise, if you’re using formula or not pumping breast milk at all.
- Cost: Of course, the cost is always a consideration. For the price, you might prefer heating bottles some other way and calling it a day. Another option is getting a second hand warmer if you’re not sure how much use you’ll get from it.
If bottle-feeding looks like it’ll be a big part of your future, a warmer might save you countless hours of hassle and take one more thing off your plate. For some moms, the sheer convenience makes them a no-brainer. For others, they can whip together a perfectly warmed bottle in around the same amount of time it takes the bottle warmer to do it.
It’s hard to know before your baby arrives if she’ll be picky about drinking cold breast milk or formula. It’s safe to say though that your child won’t refuse a nicely warmed bottle. Whether you decide to heat bottles the old-fashioned way or try a bottle warmer, what matters most is making sure your little one’s meal is at a safe-to-drink temperature.