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 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 5 of the best 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.
Quick ComparisonOur Top Bottle Warmer Picks of 2019 Read Full Reviews
- Quick Comparison
- Is a Bottle Warmer Really Necessary?
- The Different Types of Bottle Warmers
- What Should I Look For in a Bottle Warmer?
- The Best Baby Bottle Warmers of 2019
- Aren’t There Any Alternatives?
- Will a Bottle Warmer Work For Breast Milk?
- How Do Bottle Warmers Work?
- How Do I Use a Bottle Warmer?
- How to Clean a Bottle Warmer
- The Bottom Line
Is a Bottle Warmer Really 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 really 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 partly 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 simply 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.
The Different Types of Bottle Warmers
Steam vs. Hot Water
The basic difference between most warmers is whether they use steam or a bath of hot water to warm milk. Steam is faster but can scald you or your baby if you’re not careful. Water baths heat more gently and evenly, but they take a lot longer than steam to do it.
Electric vs. Non-Electric
Most warmers are plug-in appliance styles that go on your kitchen counter to help you with your normal bottle prep. These can use either steam or hot water, and are great if you’re doing most of your feeds at home.
Non-electric styles rely instead on insulation, or battery power to keep milk warm, so can be used on the go. For insulated bags, you’ll need to heat the milk up first, though.
Car or Portable Styles
Many non-electric styles are designed specifically for use in the car. Some are well-insulated, some use battery power and some plug directly into the car’s DC connector via an adaptor. Naturally, these are smaller and contain no water to spill.
Combined Bottle and Food Warmers
Some electric counter-top warmers are designed to heat up baby food jars as well as milk bottles. They often come with a removable tray or basket, but may need a little extra care to keep them clean. Some warmers also have room to heat two bottles simultaneously, making them great for twins.
What Should I Look For in a Bottle Warmer?
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a bottle warmer, here are some things to consider:
- Multipurpose: You’ll want to find one that can also be used to heat baby food. That way you’ll get more bang for your buck when your baby is old enough to start eating.
- Quick: It should be able to warm a bottle quickly. Babies aren’t known for their patience, and no mom wants to wait a full 10 minutes while trying to console a screaming baby.
- Uniform heating: The final product should be evenly warmed milk with no hot or cold spots.
- Adaptable: A bottle warmer should be versatile enough to handle bottles in many sizes and shapes.
- Portable: You want a model that you can take on weekend getaways. I know packing for a vacation when you have a baby is no easy feat – you don’t want your warmer to take up half the space you have.
- Small size: Make sure the unit is compact enough to fit in a small suitcase. There are even car warmers to warm breast milk while you’re on the go.
The Best Baby Bottle Warmers of 2019
Now that you know why you might want one, and exactly what you should look for when buying, here are 7 of the best models currently on the market.
1. Dr. Brown’s Bottle Warmer
The Dr. Brown warmer uses a water chamber that can heat up multiple bottles before it has to be refilled. It can warm both standard and wide neck bottles, as well as baby food jars.
This warmer has a control panel which is easy to operate and an audible alarm to let you know when a bottle has finished warming.
Parents who aren’t tech savvy may appreciate the one-button start feature on this unit. If you always use the same bottle size straight from the refrigerator, there’s a memory function that can be set to your preferred heating time.
- Any standard bottle should fit into this unit.
- Warms milk a little faster than some other units on the market.
- The reservoir can get slimy over time because it can be difficult to clean.
- The plastic on the bottles gets so hot you need to use a towel to remove it from the machine.
2. Kiinde Kozii Bottle & Breast Milk Warmer
This unit is safe for glass bottles as well as metal, plastic or bags. It both thaws and warms breast milk, formula and baby food. The Kiinde Kozii warmer uses a low-temperature water bath to warm bottles, and it doesn’t use steam.
It heats quickly and consistently because of the low heat it uses, which helps avoid hot spots that might burn your baby’s mouth.
Plus it’s versatile enough that you can pop in frozen breast milk storage bags straight from the freezer, making it great for moms who pump and store their milk. This warmer has an automatic timer that shuts off when the set time is finished.
- Can even be used with steel bottles.
- Parents don’t need to measure water for every use.
- Parents might find this unit too expensive.
- Not convenient to take with you on trips.
- Does not sterilize pacifiers.
3. Tommee Tippee Bottle & Food Warmer
This unit, made of stainless steel and plastic, can warm milk for your baby anytime, anywhere.
It stores hot water for warming food and bottles for busy parents who are on the go. The water is kept warm in the thermal flask.
This unit doesn’t require any electricity, which makes it perfect for trips in the car. The plastic is BPA free, and the lid fastens securely so that you won’t have any water spills while trying to warm your baby’s milk.
Plus, if you put boiled water in the thermos, it will stay hot for hours.
- Can be used with bottles of various shapes and sizes.
- Doesn’t require any electricity so it can be used anywhere.
- Easy to use.
- Doesn’t work the best for frozen milk.
- Doesn’t fit into the cup holders in most cars.
- The flask only holds enough hot water for approximately two feedings.
4. Philips Avent Bottle Warmer
The Avent warmer gets high marks for a design that heats milk gently and uniformly. While not the fastest, it heats a bottle steadily and avoids creating hot spots or scalding the milk or outside of the bottle.
Five ounces are heated in around 3 minutes. The water in the unit circulates continuously to make sure the milk is mixed and heated throughout.
It also comes with a separate defrosting setting, and is relatively more thorough at heating frozen milk than other models. Plus it’ll work on most sizes and shapes of bottle. Just add water and turn the dial.
- Can be used to heat baby food bottles.
- Thorough instructions and temperature reference table.
- Very lightweight unit.
- Some parents dislike that there is no timer.
- As with many warmers, some experimentation is necessary to find that temperature “sweet spot.”
- A few moms might find the wait time too long.
5. Munchkin High Speed Bottle Warmer
This super cute bottle warmer promises to warm your baby’s bottles in just 90 seconds — barely enough time for even the fussiest of babies to start pitching a fit. Unlike many bottles, this one uses hot steam to warm milk, and to use it correctly you’ll need to add just the right amount of water using the included cup.
The unit is simple and minimalistic, taking up barely any room on a counter. If you ever need to, it won’t be too difficult to bring it along on trips since it weighs just under 1.5 pounds.
Moms have found that this unit fits all sizes and shapes of bottle, and since it gets very hot, very fast, you don’t have to worry whether it can handle a frozen milk storage bag.
- Comes with a little lift out basket.
- Shuts off on its own with a beep and a flash.
- The fastest warmer on the list.
- The high heat can damage more delicate bottles, or glass.
- Many parents complain that the steam is just too hot and chars the milk.
- Needs a little trial and error to find the right amount of water for your bottles.
6. Babebay Baby Bottle Warmer
With a 4-in-1 multifunction design, this bottle warmer from Babebay helps simplify your life, especially if you’re traveling. It combines a breastmilk warmer, formula heater, food heater, and sterilizer into one compact machine. Wherever you are, whether it’s at your moms house or a hotel room, you’ll have what you need to make feedings stress-free.
The smart thermostat includes an automatic heat preservation mode, so it keeps the water at the perfect temperature to ensure the bottle stays warm or you can place a new bottle inside without having to wait for the water to heat back up.
It’s important to note this bottle warmer runs through a plug and not on batteries. So, while it’s great for taking with you on longer trips, it won’t be a great option for shorter trips or while you’re out running errands. You’ll always need to find a place to plug it in.
- The 4-in-1 multifunctional design allows you to heat and sterilize any kind of bottle.
- Smart thermostat keeps water at the perfect temperature for fast and even heating.
- Doesn’t run on batteries, so you’ll have to find a place to plug it in when you’re out and about.
7. The First Years Quick Serve Bottle Warmer
This is one of the most affordable options out there. It will heat up breast milk, formula or baby food jars quickly, and it has an automatic shut-off for added protection for your family. This unit works with almost any kind of bottle – it can handle wide mouth, narrow mouth, disposable or angled bottles. For moms who are concerned about their baby’s safety, it’s completely BPA free.
This warmer is also user-friendly – all you have to do is add a small vial of water, place the bottle in the unit and press a button to start warming your baby’s bottle. After the light goes off, the bottle is ready. And if you forget to shut it off because of your impatient, screaming baby, the auto shut-off has you covered.
- Includes a basket insert you can use for heating baby food jars.
- You can sterilize pacifiers with this unit.
- Can heat a bottle in under 5 minutes.
- Since the inside of the unit is plastic, you sometimes get that melted plastic smell.
- Figuring out how long to heat a bottle takes some trial and error with this unit.
Aren’t There Any Alternatives?
I understand the need to cut corners when you have a new baby. The amount of baby gear needed to take care of one tiny human being is staggering. The baby gear takes up a lot of storage space in your house, and the money you’ve spent in preparation for motherhood makes you feel sick.
It takes a small fortune to raise a child (source). It’s hard to spend money on something like a bottle warmer when you feel there are other ways you can heat up your baby’s milk. And you’re right; alternatives do exist.
Let’s look at some other ways that you can warm your baby’s bottle:
- Using the microwave: If you learn one thing from this article, it should be never to use a microwave to heat up your baby’s bottle. This might be the single worst way to warm a bottle. The microwave doesn’t heat a bottle evenly – it leaves areas where the milk is too hot, which can burn your baby.
- By running warm or hot tap water over the bottle: This might work, but it takes a couple of minutes to heat the bottle to the desired temperature. If you leave it under the hot water too long, it can become too hot for your baby. If you don’t warm it long enough, your baby might not want it, especially if she’s picky about the temperature of her milk.
Another drawback to running hot water over the bottle is that you need both hands to do this, and while you’re busy that means no one is comforting your crying baby. With a bottle warmer, the machine does the warming while you do the cuddling. I know which job I would rather do – cuddling a baby wins every time.
I think any baby gear that streamlines a process and allows mothers and babies to spend more time together is a good thing.
The hot tap water method does work, which means a bottle warmer isn’t a necessity for people who can follow instructions. Even though it’s not a necessity like a car seat is, it’s still an important piece of equipment for your baby’s safety because you can’t always depend on others to care as much about safety as you do.
As much as you might want to be, you are not always with your baby. You have obligations like work that require you to spend time away from home. While you might be great at warming your baby’s bottle under tap water for only a minute or two and checking the temperature before you give it to her, other people may not.
I know that from experience. When I was a new mother, I had several well-meaning relatives who warmed my baby’s bottles way beyond what I was comfortable with.
All these relatives were intelligent, and they certainly weren’t trying to hurt my baby, but they just didn’t realize one important fact – what doesn’t feel hot enough to an adult may be plenty hot enough for a baby.
Think about it
A bottle warmer can take the guesswork out of how long to warm a bottle, and they are simple to use. That protects your baby from well-meaning caregivers who never seem to think a baby’s bottle is hot enough.
Will a Bottle Warmer Work For Breast Milk?
Bottle warmers provide an excellent way to warm up breast milk that has been thawed or refrigerated. Some warmers can even heat up breast milk straight from the freezer.
Any chunks of ice should indeed be gone from a bottle before you start feeding your baby, but breast milk can be served cold, even if many babies prefer it warmer. When my children were babies, they didn’t mind drinking cold bottles, but they seemed to prefer warm ones. A warm bottle, some gentle lullabies and a few snuggles made my children content and sleepy.
Whether you use a bottle warmer or another method, bottles shouldn’t be heated much higher than body temperature. If you have heated up your breast milk and your baby refuses to take her bottle, it is generally safe to only heat it one more time (source).
Keep your fingers crossed that your baby will take her bottle after you’ve reheated it. As awful as it is to waste breast milk, if she doesn’t take it that second time you should toss it down the sink. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your baby’s health.
How Do Bottle Warmers Work?
Determine which method of warming you prefer – water bath or steam heat.
Some models heat the bottles by immersing them in a water bath. These provide slow but consistent heat. They don’t tend to get as hot as the machines that use steam.
Other models use steam heat, which heats the bottle quicker than the water bath method. The main drawback to this approach is that you need to be careful when using the unit because of the high temperature of the steam.
The outside of the bottle can get scalding with a steam warmer so your crying baby may have to wait a couple of minutes longer while the outside of the bottle cools down a bit. Steam doesn’t always heat the milk evenly, which means there can be hotter areas that can hurt your baby.
How Do I Use a Bottle Warmer?
Every model will come with its set of instructions – you should read these carefully. Not all bottle warmers operate in the same way. Let’s look at the operating instructions for the most popular warmers on the market.
- You place your baby’s filled bottle in the warmer.
- You put water in the warmer compartment until it reaches 10 millimeters below the rim. If your bottle is bigger, you’ll want to allow more space by filling the warmer compartment to about 12 millimeters underneath the warmer’s rim.
- Check to see that the warmer is on the “MIN” setting before you plug it in.
- Plug it in and make sure the indicator light comes on to show the unit is working.
- Move the dial to setting 3.
- When the water is heated adequately, you’ll see the light go off. That doesn’t mean the milk is ready, though. It just means the water has reached the right temperature to heat the milk.
- Give the milk time to heat. Follow the heating guidelines in the instructions that come with the warmer. For example, if you’re using a 5-ounce bottle from the refrigerator, you’ll want to warm it for 5 minutes, but if the bottle was at room temperature, you’ll only want to warm it for 4 minutes.
- Be careful when taking the bottle out of the warmer because the water surrounding it will be hot.
- Always check the temperature of the milk on the inside of your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot for your baby.
- After you are finished with the warmer, put the dial back on the lowest setting and unplug it.
If you are warming baby food with the Tommee Tippee unit, there are different instructions (source).
How to Clean a Bottle Warmer
Before cleaning a bottle warmer, you should always make sure it’s unplugged first to avoid injury. You should discard any water in the unit that was used to heat any previous bottles and follow the specific instructions each unit comes with because they won’t all have the same directions.
These are the basic guidelines you can follow:
- Pour some boiling, soapy water into the reservoir.
- Allow the water to loosen any debris by sitting for several minutes.
- Pour out the water into your sink.
- Take 1 spoonful of room temperature water and 2 spoonfuls of uncooked non-instant dry rice into the reservoir and shake it.
- Rinse the unit well to remove any excess rice grains.
The primary purpose of a bottle warmer is to heat up a bottle quickly and safely so you can feed your crying baby as soon as possible. Babies cry constantly, and if you can cut back on the time they spend doing that, you’ll be a much happier and well-rested mom!
You shouldn’t have to part with much of your hard-earned money for a warmer, and you shouldn’t need a Ph.D. to figure out how it works. You want something simple to operate that won’t drain your savings account.
Now over to the moms out there – do you use a bottle warmer, and if so, which one has earned your trust and which one should be tossed? We’d love to know in the comments!