Bottle warmers, they are something most moms-to-be put on their baby registry. And for good reason. Whether you need to warm breast milk you pumped, or you need to warm a bottle of chilled formula, a warmer makes it simple and quick.
But there are a host of different warmers with a wide range of prices. Is there really a difference between them? And what is it you really need?
Let me share with you some of what I have learned over the years working through several warmers with my three littles.
Why Do I Need a Bottle Warmer?
First, the question you should ask is why should you warm your baby’s bottle in the first place? Well, there are a couple of reasons.
The first reason is simple hygiene. Like cow’s milk, breastmilk and formula alike can grow harmful bacteria. By keeping it at the right temperature, either cold or warm, you reduce the risk of the development of that bacteria. This is a unique risk to pumped or formula milk as when it is consumed directly from the breast, it does not have harmful bacteria in it. The thought is that bacteria are introduced through either the bottle or un unsterile breast pump.
The second reason is the digestive health of your little one. When a baby breastfeeds, the milk is at body temperature or roughly 98.6 Fahrenheit. Some parents find when they give a cold bottle that it upsets their stomach. This can lead to additional spit-up, reflux, and even colic. Therefore, bottle warmers can ensure that you warm your bottle up to the same temperature each time.
Finally is the mere convenience. Any mom who has gotten up in the middle of the night, every night, for weeks on end, knows how difficult it is to warm a bottle in the middle of the night. Every mom has accidentally pressed the microwave button too many times, overheated the milk and then had to hold a screaming baby in their arms while they wait for it to cool down or just toss it out and make a new one only to go through all of that again. A bottle warmer makes sure that you don’t overheat your bottle.
What Should You Consider When Shopping?
As you look for a bottle warmer, there are a few things to consider to find one that is going to work, both now and as your little one gets older.
Temperature – What temperature does the warmer heat the bottle to? It should not heat the bottle higher than 98.5 Fahrenheit. Doing so will cause the breastmilk to start breaking down, and lose its nutritional value. Plus it poses a burn risk to both you and your baby.
Consistency – Does it heat bottles consistently to the right temperature? You want to be sure the warmer will perform the same all the time.
Convenience – Is it easy to use? This is especially important for late-night bottles.
Flexibility – Does it take different shapes and sizes of bottles? Does it warm baby food as well as it does bottles?
Size – Is it portable and does it have a small footprint in your kitchen? You want to be sure it does not take up a lot of space to do its job.
Cautions When Using a Warmer
As I already mentioned, you want to be sure your bottle warmer is not going to warm the bottle or liquid too much, causing a burn hazard.
If you are going to use a warmer, I recommend using a glass baby bottle. BPA-free bottles still have chemicals that can leach into the milk, especially when the plastic is warmed. This includes BPS and TPP, just to name a couple. Using a glass baby bottle ensures that there are no toxic chemicals leeching into your baby’s milk.
The First Years is another well-known brand in the baby products industry. The bottle warmer is a great concept with a budget price.
This particular warmer fits just about every bottle, including straight and bent bottles. It also doubles as a pacifier sanitizer. It has an auto-off function. It has a simple on/off function with no complicated settings to figure out. There is no timer to watch, it senses when the water is evaporated and turns off.
- Fits most wide and narrow mouth bottles
- Sanitizes pacifiers as well as warms bottles
- The easy-to-measure vial that attaches to the warmer
- Has a basket to lift the bottle out of warmer
- No manual off-switch so you need to unplug it to turn it off
- Needs about 10 minutes to cool down between uses
- Is not designed to use for warming food
Bubos is a relatively unknown company when it comes to baby products. However, they do make an inexpensive bottle warmer alternative. This is another option for steaming your baby bottle to warm up breast milk or formula.
It is a pretty no-frills bottle warmer, but it does what it needs to do. It has a simple one-button operation, with an auto-shutoff when the heating cycle is over. It also has a handy plastic basket to help lift the bottle or jar of baby food off the warming element.
- Can be used to heat breastmilk, formula, and baby food
- Includes basket to help lift the bottle and baby food off the warmer
- Uses steam to warm the contents
- Has an auto-shutoff
- Requires about 15 minutes to cool down between uses
- It is difficult to read the measuring cup
Dr. Browns is a brand many moms turn to for help feeding their littles, especially if they have little ones with digestive issues. They have brought a new premium bottle warmer to the market to solve this problem.
It has all the things you would want in a warmer, including an on-board water tank so you do not have to fill it every time you use it. It has a digital timer, with an LCD display. You can choose how long you need it to run, and it will remember the last time you used it. While it does fit all of Dr. Brown’s bottles, it does not fit bottles that are any wider than the Dr. Brown’s bottles.
- Has an LCD screen with timer
- On-board water tank so you do not have to fill it every time
- Can be used to warm food as well
- Fits all Dr. Brown’s bottles, and many others that are the same size
- Auto Shutoff after 10 minutes
- Does not fit wider bottles
- There is a beep that you cannot shut off at the end of the heating cycle
One lesser-known brand is Kiinde Kozii. This seems like a great unit that is supposed to be safer than the steam competitors. Its primary selling point is that it uses warm water circulating around the bottle to warm the bottle. This is supposed to help reduce hot spots in the bottle, heating it more consistently.
It does have an analog timer, yup the old dial type. This is what turns the unit on and off. Unfortunately, it seems to take forever to warm a bottle, in part due to the heating technique. It is more akin to warming your bottle in a glass of hot water, except you did not have to heat the water separately.
- Uses a warm flowing bath rather than steam
- Has a dial timer
- Can be used to warm breast milk, formula, and food
- Tends to warm slowly
- Easy to overfill the unit, causing it to overflow when turned on
Avent is a brand well-known from Philips, with a wide product line. The baby warmer is just one component of what is available in the baby line. This is a fairly inexpensive warmer and does not take up a lot of space on the counter.
However, for the mommy who needs help warming up milk, this may not be the best option. There is no auto-shutoff, so you have to remember to shut it off yourself, or the heating element stays on. That seems like a bit of a fire hazard to me. Also, there is no timer on it, so trying to remember to pull the bottle off at the right time is challenging, especially during a mid-night feeding.
- Warms up to 4 oz in just 3 minutes
- Heats foods as well as bottles
- Also has a defrost function for frozen breastmilk and food
- Fits most bottles
- No temperature control
- Does not have an automatic shutoff
- Does not have a timer
Which One Do I Prefer?
It is difficult to choose from the best bottle warmers, especially when you see so much room for improvement in every design. I want to love the models that do not use steam as they can leave hot spots. However, they take too long to warm up a bottle. When you have a hangry little one, you do not want to wait any longer than absolutely necessary for a bottle. That means the steam bottles are the next best alternative.
My choice among all of these is the First Years 2-in-1 warmer. This is an extremely cost-effective option, plus it is super simple to use. It does take some testing to find the right amount of water for the size bottle you want to use, but once you have that, it is truly simple.
I also love the fact I can use it to warm up food. Being I make a lot of our baby food, it is good to have an easy option to warm it up without using a microwave or stove.