With so many styles and varieties to choose from, it is beneficial to have a resource that gives you all the information you need to make a decision on which baby bottle warmer is the best one for your needs. Anyone who has fed a baby can agree that the best bottle warmer has the ideal bottle capacity, warming time, and warming temperature. That was our top criteria for selecting the best bottle warmer. If you want to get right to feeding your baby, Dr. Brown’s Bottle Warmer scored high rankings in all categories and is our top pick.
Bottle Warmer Comparison
The First Years
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Bottle Warmer Buying Guide
What is Baby Bottle Warmer?
One of the most useful and often overlooked baby products on the market is the baby bottle warmer. When you have a new baby in the house, night time feedings are a regular occurrence and having a bottle warmer can save you a lot of missed sleep. The whole purpose of the baby bottle warmer is to speed up the bottle warming process.
There are many different styles and models of baby bottle warmers on the market today and deciding which ones are good and which are not so good can be a little confusing at times. This baby bottle warmer buyer’s guide will give you all the important information you need to know about these nighttime feeding saviors and help you choose the one that will work the best for your needs.
There are many benefits that a new and experienced parent can get from using a bottle warmer. These includes things like:
- Keeping the baby’s milk at a consistent temperature
- Prevents hot spots that occur commonly when using a microwave
- Speeds up the bottle warming process, saving time
- Can be used on the run (if portable warmers are purchased)
We’ll go into the specifics of each of the points listed above:
Keeping the Baby’s Milk at a Constant temperature – Serving your baby milk that is cold on top and then warm or vice versa can upset their delicate stomachs. The baby bottle warmer prevents this uneven heating that can even cause hot spots which can burn your baby’s mouth. Because the bottle is heated using either warm water or steam, the heat distribution ensures that your baby’s bottle is the right temperature for them to safely drink.
Prevents Hot Spots that Occur during Microwave Heating – One of the most popular ways to heat a baby’s bottle is by using the microwave. This is largely in part because of the near instant results and speed. When a baby is hungry, no one wants to let them cry for 10-15 minutes while you heat a bottle in a pot on the stove. The problem with this method is that microwaving breastmilk changes the composition and the milk can lose valuable nutrients during the heating process.
Speeds up the Bottle Warming Process – Speed is of the essence when it comes to heating your baby’s bottle, especially if it’s the middle of the night. Traditional methods can take 10-15 minutes and microwaves can break down the milk and cause hot spots too. So what is the answer? A baby bottle warmer. They heat the baby’s bottle quickly and safely within 2-5 minutes and before you know it you will be feeding your baby and getting back to sleep. Depending on the warmer, you can even have it in the baby’s room overnight in your own room so you don’t even have to leave the room to heat the bottles. (To do this you will need a model that has a bottle cooler also to keep the bottles chilled until it’s time to heat them.
Can be Used on the Run – Being on the go is a daily occurrence for many parents, so having a way to heat bottles while you’re on the run can be a real benefit rather than a.) Feeding your baby cold milk or formula or b.) You don’t have to worry about the baby crying for 30 min -2 hours straight because you were out if the house at feeding time and don’t have emergency bottles.
There are many different benefits that a bottle warmer will provide a new or experienced parent. It is considered a kind of sleeper product because unless you’ve experienced what they can do and the time they free up for you, you will never realize all the extra time it saves by doing the warming for you. So what advantages will you enjoy with a bottle warmer on hand?
- Speed – A good quality bottle warmer like the three top rated choices above can heat a bottle very quickly. Typically 3 minutes is standard. Frozen breast will thaw fairly quickly in a bottle warmer as well but will not overheat or become damaged.
- Convenience – heating the baby bottle before each feeding can take minutes while you deal with a crying and hungry baby. Bottle warmers are designed to heat bottles up quickly and without causing any inconvenience. Some models even have a feature where you can set up the warmer to warm the next bottle in time for the feeding so there are no delays while your baby has to cry in hunger.
- Consistency – Overheating breast milk rums the benefits that it normally has. These nutrients can be destroyed by becoming too hot which can easily happen when heating the breast milk up in a microwave. Bottle warmers provider a lot of consistency for the parent and the baby, as the bottle is the same temperature each time.
There are many different types of baby bottle warmers on the market today; countertop, portable and travel are the three main styles. Each one serves a great purpose and some parents may love the bottle warmers so much that they will get one for the home and one for traveling in case they are on the road when the baby needs their bottle.
Counter top – Counter top baby bottle warmers are probably the most commonly used. These units are not huge by any means and can sit on a kitchen counter or nursery dresser with ease. Some of the counter top styles come with bottle coolers which are a great addition to the warmers when it comes to night feedings.
Portable – These units work well all over the house and are designed to be compact and easy to move. Portable bottle warmers may need batteries so be sure to check before purchase so you won’t bring home a warmer that can’t warm due to not having the batteries handy.
Travel – Travel baby bottle warmers either work off battery power or more commonly, they can plug right in to the cigarette lighter of your vehicle. Travel warmers are great for vacations, when you have a lot of commuting or errands to take care of or when visiting relatives or friends. This is not an instant method and can take up to 10-15 minutes to heat the bottle so be sure to allow for this to avoid an unhappy baby (and driver) while they are waiting for the bottle to heat up.
Heating Method Choices
There are two main ways that baby bottle warmers warm the bottles; steam warming and water warming. While both take water initially, in the steam unit it is the steam that heats the bottle and in the water unit, the bottles get the equivalent of a warm water bath. The water warmed style of warmer is a bit safer in that you are not exposed to being burned by scalding hot steam.
There are several things that you can look at and compare when deciding on the right baby bottle warmer for your needs. There are some bottle warmers that have a lot of added features and others that are just simple and straightforward without a lot of bells and whistles. Your personal preference will definitely play a part in the warmer you choose, but be sure to look at the following points when shopping around.
Ease of Use – A parent doesn’t want to have to fiddle with a bunch of complicated directions just to warm their baby’s bottle, so finding warmers that are easy to use is an important factor to keep at the forefront of your mind. Since you’ll be using the bottle warmer frequently throughout the day and night, set up should be easy, and the warming process should be quick and efficient. Since bottles come in all shapes and sizes, make sure that the baby bottle warmer you get fits most all types and sizes of baby bottles.
Safety – Automatic shut off is one of the best features a baby bottle warmer can have. Wheat this function does is prevent the bottle from becoming overheated if you are busy with the baby or something else when the bottle reaches the desired temperature. In addition to the auto shut off, be certain the warmer has a keep warm feature so the bottle doesn’t immediately cool down while you’re getting your other stuff done.
Easy Cleaning – Cleaning your baby bottle warmer regularly is important to maintain the proper functioning of the unit. When water is used repeatedly mineral deposits can build up, mold can develop and both of those can not only affect the warmer but the health of your baby too. When comparing models take a look at how many parts there are to clean and look for the ones that don’t have tons of parts to disassemble and out back together. You will find both types of models in your search. Finding one that involves more cleaning is fine, as long as you are aware of and committed to making sure it gets cleaned.
- Auto Shut Off – This feature is a good safety measure against overheating the bottles as well as burning up the device by having it continue to run even if the water runs out. Look for bottle warmers that have an auto shut off when the bottle reaches the preferred temperature and also if the water level drops below a certain level.
- Roomy Chamber – Look for bottle warmers that have Universal warming chambers rather than bottle inserts. The benefit of the Universal chamber is that you can warm up frozen breast milk, bags of milk, bottles, small plastic containers and glass baby food jars. This convenience makes it possible to not only be of use for bottles but for food too.
- Different Warming Levels – Many models of bottle warmers have several different warming options. They may offer a quick warm or speed warm setting that will quickly and efficiently warm up a cold bottle or bag and others may additionally offer a stay warm setting that kicks in once the bottle is up to the preferred temperature. This is a great feature if you have put the bottle in to be warm and get side tracked with changing a diaper or tending to the needs of another child before being able to get the bottle. Instead of it cooling down too much and requiring another reheat, the bottle temperature is kept at the proper level until you are ready.
- Sterilization Setting – Sterilizing bottles, nipples and pacifiers is a good practice to get into and ensures the health and safety of your baby’s bottles and supplies. A sterilization setting is very beneficial for making sure the bottles are clean and bacteria free.
- Easy to Use/Read Dials – You want your bottle warmer to be as simple as possible to use and read. Look for models that have ready alerts when the bottles are warmed, and easy to read/set dials that will achieve the desired task such as sterilizing or warming. The easier it is to program and set up, the more you will want to use it.
- Space saving Size – You do not want to have to find room for another appliance, so look for models that have space saving dimensions and that can be used anywhere there is an outlet. Many parents opt to have two bottle warmers; one for the kitchen and one for the nursery. This makes it very convenient to warm the bottles at night during middle of the night feedings without having to go to the kitchen and then back to the nursery to feed the baby.
- Easy to Clean – You don’t want to purchase something that is going to be extremely difficult to use or clean. Look for models that are simple to set up and take apart when it’s time to clean them. You want to be able to ensure your baby’s safety by keeping the internal parts from getting mold build up (a common problem with the steam models) and you want to find a model that is easy to put back together after it has been cleaned properly. (Do not disassemble the unit, just remove any parts that are supposed to be removed to clean and do not submerge the unit in water.)
In addition to being easy to use, have safety features and being easy to clean, baby bottle warmers can have a host of other features as well. These are not necessities but many parents find that it makes using the extra features even more enjoyable and convenient.
Night Light – some baby bottle warmers come with night lights that can make those nighttime feedings much easier to handle since you don’t have to turn on harsh overhead lighting to see. This is a great feature for those who keep the warmers in the baby’s room or their own bedroom where the baby sleeps.
Wire Holder/warming basket – This is used for holding the bottles inside the warmer and for extracting the bottles and jars without having to touch inside the unit which can be quite hot, especially if it is a steam based warmer.
Cooler – This could very well be one of the best and most well liked features a baby bottle warmer could have. Having a bottle cooler means that you can keep 1-2 bottles in the same room you feed the baby in and just reach over, grab a chilled bottle out of the cooler, pop it into the warmer and hit the start button. The coolers usually keep the bottles cold for up to 8 hours which is plenty of time since most babies eat at least once during the night and young ones can eat more often than that.
Set up and Usage
Knowing how to set up and use your baby bottle warmer correctly can ensure several things; that your baby will never have an improperly heated bottle, and that your bottle warmer will last a lot longer since you’ll be using and cleaning it properly. Outlined below are the basic steps for using a baby bottle warmer. This may vary slightly according to the different manufacturers but for the most part, the standard directions are the same.
Make sure that when you get your baby bottle warmer, regardless of which one you choose, read the instructions that come with it. This will give you information that is “item specific” and will help you know all there is to know about the unit you’ll be using.
Where will you set up the Warmer?
If you have a counter top bottle warmer, deciding where you are going to put it is the first thing you need to do. It can be in the kitchen on the counter, in the baby’s room or even in your room. When deciding where to put the bottle warmer, think about the most convenient place for you to set up. While the kitchen may seem like the logical place for many, you may want to consider putting it in the baby’s room since that is predominantly where the baby will be fed. Ask yourself the following questions to find the best and most convenient place to set up your bottle warmer.
- Where do you feed the baby? – do you feed him or her all over the house in different rooms, or do you tend to do feedings in the same room all the time such as a chair in the living room or the baby’s nursery.
- Does the unit need daily cleaning? – if you have to clean the bottle warmer daily, it may be a pain to unplug it from another room, carry it into the kitchen, clean it and cart if back, but this is a personal preference. Many of the units only need water added every couple of days and that is when you would need to clean it. Since the units aren’t heavy, taking it to the kitchen a couple of times a week may not be that big a deal at all.
- How much Space do you have? If you just don’t have dresser or counter space for the baby bottle warmer, you may need to keep it in the kitchen where it won’t get accidentally knocked off the dresser from overcrowding. You will want to put the warmer in a place where there is plenty of room for it to sit safely and also for the extra bottles, etc that you may want to keep with it.
Once you have decided where you are going to set up your baby bottle warmer (make sure it’s a flat surface) plug it in and make sure that the cord is no where it can get tangled up by pets or other children or even the adults of the home. If it is pulled off the dresser or counter when it has heated water in it, someone could get burned.
How to Use
Now that your bottle warmer is set up, it’s time to use it. Fill the warmer up to the fill line (this will be designated inside the unit. If you’re not sure, check your directions, it will be there. Place the bottle into the warmer. Depending on the style warmer you have purchased, you will either need to plug in the unit or plug it in AND turn on the switch.
There are some bottle warmers that will have lights and alert sounds for when the bottle has finished heating and it will automatically shut off if that is also a feature. (most have this built in safety feature) the unit keep the bottle warm until you are ready to feed the baby, but it is advisable that you use the bottle as soon as possible after it is heated to avoid potential spoilage.
Before giving the bottle to the baby, be sure to shake it up to make sure there are no hot spots. While most warmers are great at even warming of the bottles, you don’t want to take a chance. Test the temperature on the inside of your wrist. The milk should never be hot, only lukewarm.
Once you have taken the bottle out of the unit to use, shut the unit down until the next time.
Keeping your bottle warmer clean and maintained will ensure that it lasts as long as possible. With the right care, there is no reason why a good quality bottle warmer can’t last for years. Follow these easy cleaning steps to keep your bottle warmer running and working great.
- Do not clean the unit until it has cooled down completely. Once it has cooled, empty the remaining water out of the water tank. In some models this will be an unnecessary step, as the water can be left in the warmer for a few days. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to know which your bottle warmer requires.
- Using a damp dish cloth, wipe down the entire unit inside and out. Never submerge it in water and don’t use cleaners either as this can damage the unit.
- Once a month be sure to de-scale the baby bottle warmer which will remove mineral deposits that can build up, especially if your water has a high mineral count. This is easily done by filling the chamber with 2 parts vinegar to 4 parts water and running the warmer through one cycle. Rinse it completely and then dry it out so it’s ready to be used again. Don’t let it stay damp or bacteria could build up as well.
Now that you know how valuable and convenient a baby bottle warmer is, you may want to get one for your own baby’s bottles. The information in this buyer’s guide can help you learn everything you need to know to decide on the right bottle warmer for your needs. Finding the right baby bottle warmer doesn’t have to be frustrating or a chore. With the right information, choosing becomes easy unless you can’t decide between something like color. They are a baby product that makes life much easier and anyone having a baby would enjoy getting one of these as a gift as well.
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