When your life has become a cycle of dirty diapers, bottles, laundry, and crying babies, it's natural to look for any shortcut available. Bottle warmers may not seem necessary when you're not within earshot of a hungry baby, but in the middle of the night many a parent has wished that milk could be warmed just a smidge faster.
Let’s just be honest. The best thing about a bottle warmer is that it saves you time and a little sanity, mostly because it satisfies your baby's needs earlier. Babies, especially newborns out of the gate, would much rather drink milk that is body temperature, which is warm. They may have been accustomed to breastmilk which has its own natural heating, or cold milk may just not suit their little gourmet palates.
You can always try a cold bottle at some point. When babies who are not given cold milk regularly are given a cold bottle, they often refuse it. And, hungry babies are not happy babies.
Purchasing a bottle warmer can help you speed things up when you baby is demanding to be fed. Even if you are primarily nursing, a bottle warmer is a helpful for expressed milk. If you have to give your baby a bottle of breastmilk, a bottle warmer will conveniently warm the milk to a more natural temperature making it easier for others to feed your little one.
A Word of Warning
Some parents try to cut corners and save money by warming their bottles in the microwave. This is a major mistake! According to the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), “Studies have shown that microwaves heat baby's milk and food unevenly. This results in ‘hot spots that can scald a baby's mouth and throat.” Do not try to save money by heating your baby’s bottle in the microwave. It is not worth it!
How to Use a Bottle Warmer
As I mentioned, a bottle warmer saves you some time at feeding time. There are primarily two different ways that bottle warmers work to heat the milk. Some bottle warmers use a water bath and others use steam. Both ways are efficient and effective. After the milk is added to the bottle, you simply place the bottle inside the bottle warmer. Each warmer varies in the amount of time it takes to warm the milk. It also depends on the size of the bottle you are warming and the starting temperature of the milk.
Generally, the water bath style warmers take a little longer than the steam warmers. However, the steam warmers may make the outside of the bottle too hot to use immediately. Neither type offers an immediate heat and use feature, but they are still significantly quicker than having to warm the milk on your own.
How To Choose A Bottle Warmer
You may find the shopping process overwhelming as there are many different bottle warmers on the market. Have no fear! We have done the research for you. When shopping for bottle warmers, we considered the following factors:
- Warming Time/Effectiveness – The number one thing to look for in a bottle warmer is how much time it takes to warm the bottle. You should also make sure the bottle warmer works to evenly distribute the heat so that there are not any hot spots.
- Ease of Use &Care Instructions – Parents have their hands full in the beginning, so you do not want to buy a bottle warmer that is difficult to use or clean.
- Size – You must consider the size of the bottles you have for your baby. Some bottle warmers do not fit larger or odd shaped bottles.
- Additional Features – You should also see if the bottle warmer has any more features such as travel adapters or a design that works for baby food as well.
- Cost – Cost varies significantly for bottle warmers. Ultimately, you want to choose the best bottle warmer for your budget.
- Overheating - What happens if you leave the milk in the bottle warmer, can it overheat if you leave it in too long?
- Frozen breastmilk - Can the warmer thaw bags of frozen breastmilk also, or only bottles?
- Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer - Best Overall
- Philips Avent Fast Bottle Warmer - Best for Glass Bottles
- Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle and Baby Food Warmer - Best for Travel
- Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Deluxe Bottle Warmer - Best Steam Bottle Warmer
- The First Years Simple Serve Bottle Warmer - Best Budget Option
This bottle warmer uses a water bath to warm and distribute the heat throughout the bottle. One of the great things about this bottle warmer is its shape and size. It can accommodate larger and odd shaped bottles, as well as glass bottles. It also has a built-in timer and an automatic shut off function, which is a wonderful safety feature.
The reason the Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer is rated the “Best Overall” is because of its unique SAFEheat technology that ensures your baby’s milk is heated through evenly and consistently. The constant circulation of the lower temperature water has proven to be more effective than steam or hot water baths. However, this lower temperature water bath is not the fastest out of the bunch, taking an average of approximately 5.5 minutes to warm a 4oz bottle of milk.
Conveniently comes with a self draining water chamber between cycles, and you can heat multiple bottles in a row. Handy for consecutive late night feedings!
This bottle warmer is convenient because it warms bottles in a matter of minutes (sometimes as few as three minutes). It also heats the milk through consistently avoiding any hot spots in a warm water bath. Some of the reasons this bottle warmer is popular is because it works especially well for glass bottles, and it works to warm baby food and frozen milk as well.
However, this bottle warmer does not have an automatic timer or shut off function. It also does not have a “keep warm” feature. This means parents can potentially overheat the milk.
For parents on the go, the Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle and Baby Food Warmer is an excellent choice. For much less money than other products, this warmer is simply a stainless-steel water bottle with an additional frosted container used to warm bottles on the go. All you have to do is fill the stainless-steel water bottle with hot water where you store it until you need to warm the bottle. Then, you pour the hot water into the frosted container placing your bottle inside.
Naturally, this bottle warmer takes much longer than the others because there is no electricity required. It is basically a hot water bath that is conveniently designed for the road. You should expect it to take up to at least five minutes to fifteen minutes to warm the bottle – depending on the variables. However, this bottle warmer is designed for the times you cannot make your own water bath, such as when you travel.
This is a steam bottle warmer that works very quickly. Your baby’s bottle will be warmed in approximately 3 minutes! In addition to working quickly, it is also designed so you can use it right away again – perfect for parents with multiples or those wanting to heat baby food too.
This bottle warm is also easy to use and includes several safety features. For example, it has a digital timer that beeps to let you know when the warming is complete, and it has an automatic turn off feature.
The First Years Simple Serve Bottle Warmer is another wonderful choice because it is priced well, it warms bottles and baby food in less than five minutes, and it sanitizes pacifiers. Its design allows it to fit bottles of various shapes and sizes, as well as baby food jars. It is also the fastest warmer on our list – it can warm a bottle in approximately 2 minutes!
This bottle warmer has a light feature that shows you when it is warming the bottle. When the light goes off, the bottle is ready. It also has an automatic shut off feature. However, there are multiple steps in the process such as filling the water vial each time.
If you are looking for additional options, consider these bottle warmers:
- Munchkin Speed Bottle Warmer - Fast steam bottle warmer
- Chicco Natural Fit Digital Bottle and Baby Food Warmer - Small warmer that is great for travel
How to Heat a Bottle Without a Warmer
If you are in a bind and need warm milk without a bottle warmer, you can warm the bottle the old-fashioned way by creating your own warm water bath. Simply place the bottle in a bowl of hot water. Keep in mind that this method takes longer and does not guarantee the milk while be heated through consistently.