Does your baby get fussy if their bottle isn’t warmed? You’ve probably found yourself in this predicament: stumbling late at night trying to effectively heat a bottle. Thankfully, bottle warmers have come to our rescue. These not only speed up the process but help eliminate hot spots as well.
Bottle warmers are actually pretty simple contraptions, the only real difficulty is choosing which one to buy. With the guide below, along with our top picks (all of which are popular and come highly recommended by moms), you’ll have all you need to choose the best bottle warmer for you and your baby’s needs.
In this article:
Do I need a bottle warmer?
The question that haunts every parent’s mind is: do I really need this “fancy” baby gadget? Your home may be flooded with different products, or perhaps you’ve held out in buying anything beyond the necessities. So, what about bottle warmers? Do you need them?
According to the specialists at North Dakota State University, it is not necessary to warm up expressed breast milk or pre-mixed formula. Even so, there’s no denying that many babies prefer their milk warm.1https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/safe-food-for-babies-and-children-warming-bottles-safely
Of course, there are other ways beyond a bottle warmer to heat their milk such as using a microwave or stovetop. However, these methods can either take up some time or cause some heat inconsistencies. Bottle warmers can quicken the heating process, which is insanely useful for late-night feedings. They can also reduce the risk of your baby’s milk not being heated evenly.
At the end of the day, bottle warmers can add that layer of convenience so many parents seek. So, if you’re looking for a little relief, then this is one “fancy” baby gadget that can benefit you in the long run.
How do bottle warmers work?
The way a bottle warmer functions depends on the type of warmer. Some have a few bells and whistles (e.g. bottle coolers, sterilizers), but in general, the warming function operates in one of two ways. The first way it can work is via a warm bath, while the other deals with steam.
For the ones that run with warm water, the water circulates around the bottle in order to heat it up. Though it can take a bit of time, this does ensure that the milk is heated evenly while also lowering the chances of it overheating.
When it comes to a steam bottle warmer, the steam does most of the work. A chamber of water is heated, and steam rises from the heating element. Through this process, the bottle is warmed up. It can happen faster when compared to some water-based warmers. On the other hand, this type can run the risk of heating the bottle too fast.
With all that being said, you’re probably wondering if there’s any difference with using a bottle warmer for formula milk and breast milk. To be honest, though there may be some warmers that specify being a “breast milk warmer”, there’s really no difference. You can heat up breast milk in the same warmer you do formula.
If it is something more visual you want, check out the brief video below that demonstrates how a bottle warmer works:
Are bottle warmers a fire risk?
Like any home appliance that employs electrical heating, bottle warmers can unfortunately become a fire risk if they overheat. Typically this will only happen if the unit is faulty or get broken. It’s important to not only unplug your appliance when it is not in use, but to keep a watch out for overheating signs such as too hot to the touch, smoke, etc. Also, it helps to check from time to time whether any of your household appliances (bottle warmer included) have been recalled. Go to www.recalls.gov.
What to look for in a bottle warmer
Yes, all bottle warmers essentially perform the same obvious task: warming up a bottle. No matter that, it doesn’t hurt to be on the lookout for particular features and factors that will enhance your overall experience:
- Ease of Use & Cleaning: Clearly, you’ll be using your bottle warmer frequently, which means it should go through standard cleanings. Because of this, a warmer should be user-friendly so that you aren’t pulling your hair out trying to get it to work at 3AM.
- Safety Measures: When it comes to preventing overheating, an auto shut-off feature is perhaps one of the best things a bottle warmer can have. It’s easy to get distracted after you start warming up a bottle; trust me, we’ve all been there. Having a warmer automatically shut off once the milk is heated or when the water has evaporated can save you a lot of stress in the future.
- Alarm: This feature is another thing that greatly accommodates the bottle warming process. Like stated before, getting distracted is an incredibly easy task. An alarm chiming off to alert you that the bottle is ready can be useful if you had to step out of the room.
- Chamber Size: There are many bottle warmers that are universal, able to work with just about any bottle whether it’s glass or plastic. However, there are some that have a particular chamber size that can only fit a certain brand. Before you settle on any warmer, check to see whether or not it’s universal.
Our picks of the best baby bottle warmers
With so many bottle warmers on the market, it can be time-consuming to sort through the sea of products – we should know, we spent over 20 hours doing just that. Here’s the best we found based on functionality, safety, price, and customer reviews.
Best for Breastmilk
If you are hoping to find a product that will follow your baby into eating jarred food, then the Dr. Browns Bottle Warmer is a good choice. It is capable of heating both jarred baby food in addition to bottles. Though the product says it’s designed for Dr Brown bottles, in reality, nearly any standard bottle or jar will fit (besides super-fat ones).
Overall, it is quick and easy to use, usually taking about three minutes or so to warm up. Made with a medium to large-sized water chamber, it means you can warm up several bottles before having to refill it. Just think: you can maybe make it through a whole night of feedings without having to worry about there not being enough water.
To top it off, it is super user-friendly. It features an easy-to-read LCD panel. Also, there’s a light-up and audio alarm system in-place; feel free to wander off a bit as this will let you know when it’s done.
What we love
- LCD panel makes it easier to read, especially at night
- Audible and visual alert system
- Large water chamber
- Depending on bottle temperature, it can heat sporadically (e.g. too cool/too hot)
- Not good for extra-wide bottles/jars
- Potential for leaking
Best Travel Bottle Warmer
Looking for something you can take to grandma’s or a friend’s house? Then try your hand at the BEABA Quick Baby Bottle Warmer. Beautifully compact, it makes for a great travel bottle warmer. If there’s an electrical outlet, then you’re good to go. And when using it at home, it won’t clutter up your counters; trust me, I know, baby gadgets will literally take over your home if you don’t fight it!
What we love
- Good compact size to travel/set-up/store away
- Ultra quick, heating up bottles in just 2 minutes
- Steam sterilizer function + Can warm food in BEABA jars
- BPA, lead, and phthalate free
- Be careful because it makes the bottle too hot to touch. You may need a cloth to pick it up, then let it cool for a minute before giving it to baby
- The water reservoir is very small and needs filling up after each use
Best Car Bottle Warmer
With the Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle Warmer, is our top pick for parents who frequently travel by car and need to warm up milk in a sensible, trouble-free way while on the go. You have to fill the insulated container with boiling water, then pour this into the “reservoir” lid when ready, and now simply place the bottle or jar of food inside.
This bottle warmer works like a thermos to keep the water inside hot for several hours. This allows you to easily warm a few bottles/jars before needing to top up the boiling water. The container is rather large too, so it can work with a variety of brands.
What we love
- Maintains its temperature for several hours
- No outlet/electricity required
- Versatile in that it warms up bottles, food jars, pouches, etc.
- The container’s a bit too large for some cup holders
- Can leak even if you’ve engaged the lock
- May develop rust spots inside
Best 4-in-1 Bottle Warmer
If, like me, you want to reduce the amount of baby-gadget clutter in your home, then it makes sense for each product to work hard for its place by serving multiple functions. The 4-in-1 Bottle Warmer from Babebay can warm bottles, make formula, heat up food, and sterilize everything from bottles to pacifiers.
It has a double-bottle design and a reversible lid so that you can fit bottles of various heights. In addition, there’s the LED display that showcases real-time temperature so that you’re always aware of how warm it is.
For those looking out for safety measures, there are two main features that stand out. One is that the warmer is made with a skid-proof base to help keep it in place. Secondly, there is an auto-off mechanism. It kicks in if the warmer and sterilizer run out of water, or once the temperature has reached 100ºC or 212ºF.
What we love
- Highly versatile product
- Can warm two bottles at once
- Auto shut-off safety function
- It is still possible to overheat milk
- Sometimes heats slowly compared to other warmers
- Can be a tad pricey
Best Warmer for Glass Bottles
It’s rather easy to find a bottle warmer for any standard plastic bottle, but it takes some research to determine if one is safe for glass bottles as well. The Kiinde Kozii may help bring you some peace of mind as it works by gently, yet quickly, warming up the milk. It is universal enough that it’s not just safe with plastic and glass, but it can handle metal and those breast milk storage bags too.
To help keep things from overheating, this warmer utilizes a built-in timer. Along with that, there’s the auto-off feature. If you are looking out for even more user-friendly factors, Kozii has designed this warmer with an onboard reservoir. With this, you do not have to add water with each individual use.
Furthermore, with the reservoir, the water sinks back into it once the timer stops and the auto shut-off function kicks in. By having this reservoir though, it does require a good deal of thorough cleaning, but the process is not difficult to manage.
What we love
- Gentle, low-temperature warming system
- Water reservoir stops the need to refill each time
- Built-in timer and auto-off function
- Has questionable durability so it may not last long
- Requires more frequent cleaning than other warmers
- Not good for slender bottles
Fastest Bottle Warmer
If you are night-feeding and desperate to get back to bed, one or two minutes can feel like an age. Bring on the Munchkin High Speed Bottle Warmer which can warm up your baby’s milk bottle in about 90 seconds.
And it’s not just fast, it’s also rather budget-friendly too, and provides a decent set of features, like an auto shut-off and an alarm to alert you when it is ready.
There is an adapter ring provided so that you can fit bottles and jars of food of various sizes. You also get a measuring cup to help you pour the right amount of water.
What we love
- The steam heats up quickly and evenly
- Auto shut-off along with alarm sounds
- Adapter cup so that you can fit numerous different bottle sizes
- Since it relies on steam to warm up the food, it can get hot, so do take caution when removing any bottles or jars
- Not quite as durable as some of the others, so may not last more than one child
- Instructions can be a bit tough to follow
How to clean and descale a bottle warmer
There’s little point of purchasing a bottle warmer if it doesn’t last long, right? To prolong the life of your appliance, proper cleaning and de-scaling is a must. Before you do anything, always read the instructions for your specific warmer.
The video above shows how to clean and descale the Munchkin Speed Bottle Warmer; however, in reality, the basic cleaning tips for bottle warmers are just about universal:
- Unplug the warmer and wait for it to cool completely down before you do anything.
- Depending on the model, you may have to empty whatever water is left in the tank.
- Don’t submerge the unit in water. Instead, a damp dishcloth can typically get the job done. Just wipe down both the inside and outside of the unit.
- If needed, you can use a small bit of a mild dish detergent. Remember to rinse well.
- Allow all the parts to air dry before putting the unit back together.
Some units have more parts that you need to remove when you clean, so again, that’s why it’s important to read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Another way to make sure your warmer last is by de-scaling, and this is something that should be done about once a month. De-scaling is needed because mineral deposits build-up, especially if your water is already mineral-heavy. Don’t let something like this scare you off though; it’s easier to do than you think:
- Before you begin, empty out any remaining water.
- Mix up two parts white vinegar and four parts cold water and pour into the reservoir.
- Run the warmer through one cycle.
- Once finished, rinse it and completely dry it out.
Our top pick is…
Our favorite bottle warmer is Dr. Browns Bottle Warmer. Let’s face it, warming a bottle is a pretty simple task. You don’t need anything fancy for the job. Dr Brown’s Bottle Warmer is easy to use and durable. It may not be the fastest on the market, but it certainly ain’t the slowest either. The bottom line is that you won’t go far wrong with this versatile and reliable bottle warmer.