Trying to give a baby a bottle of cold milk is often unsuccessful. I remember with my first baby thinking, I don’t need to warm my baby’s bottle...if she’s hungry, she’ll eat! It didn’t take long for me to realize who was in charge when she straight up refused her bottle until I warmed it up. Though there are some babies who might be OK taking a cold bottle, most babies find comfort when their milk is warmed up. I mean, can you really blame them?!
So before your baby gets too hangry waiting on their milk, let’s hurry up and give you all the info you need to know about how to warm a baby bottle.
Do you need to warm your baby’s bottle?
Giving your baby a bottle of cold, or even room-temperature, milk is perfectly safe. The health benefits are the same and getting your baby the nutrition they need is the most important. And even if it’s not what your baby prefers, your baby will eventually take it - though some pushback is to be expected.
Babies who are given bottles that aren’t warmed up from the very start will have a much easier time than babies who are being expected to take a cold bottle when they’ve always had warm milk. Breastfed babies, for example, who are transitioning to being bottle-fed will expect their milk to be close to body temperature.
Though there is nothing that says warm milk is required, it does give your baby a comforting boost. Helping your baby feel secure is important, and giving them a warm bottle while you wrap them in your arms is a great way to do it.
Ways to Safely Warm Breast Milk and Formula
Safe preparation and storage of breast milk and formula is important for keeping your baby healthy. Warming is no different. So here we have three safe and effective methods for heating up your baby’s bottle.
The first two methods can be used to warm up milk starting at any cooler temperature and work especially well for thawing frozen breastmilk.
In a Bowl of Warm Water - For this method, fill up a bowl with warm (not hot) water. Warm water from the tap works great. Then place the bottle (or bag of breast milk) in the bowl of water until the breastmilk or formula comes to the same temperature as the water.
- Under Warm Running Tap Water - You can also rotate your baby’s bottle by holding it under a faucet of warm (not hot) running water. You will achieve the desired temperature within a few minutes.
The third method requires a bottle warmer. Some bottle warmers have the ability to warm milk from frozen, while others are best for warming up milk that’s at room temperature or has been refrigerated.
- With a Bottle Warmer - Though the above methods are effective, they can be slow and a bit messy. Bottle warmers allow you to choose your (and your baby’s) desired temperature for a bottle of milk and are usually very easy to use. And I think we are all looking for a way to make the tough job of parenting just a bit easier!
- Warming faster does not mean that it’s better. Some faster warmers can scald milk or bring the temperature of the breast milk nearest to the warming element to over 104 degrees as it's trying to quickly warm. This can damage the nutrients in a portion of your precious milk.
- No matter which method you choose, you always want to test the milk before you give it to your baby. This can be done by placing a drop of milk on the inside of your wrist. If it feels warm, but not hot, it’s safe to give to your baby.
Additionally, it’s important to know that once you warm up a bottle of breast milk or formula, it should be given to your baby within 2 hours. Once they begin drinking it within that time, it should be drunk within 1 hour. Be sure to throw out any unused breast milk.
- Bottles should not be re-warmed after they’ve been heated up once.
Tip on Bottle Warmers
If you choose to go the convenient bottle warmer route, just keep in mind that not all bottle warmers heat in the same way. You’ll want to consider its ease of use, reliability and portability before making a purchase. Parents who will be warming up breast milk will want to be confident that any warmer they use will never heat any part of the milk above 104 degrees. Water bath warmers, or ones where you can choose an exact temperature, are the best choice.
Be sure to read “8 Best Bottle Warmers of 2022” for our top picks!
Is it safe to heat up a bottle of breastmilk or formula in the microwave?
No, it is never safe to warm breast milk or formula in the microwave. The CDC cautions that this practice, as well as warming milk directly on the stove, can lead to unsafe temperatures that can scald your baby’s mouth. Because of its convenience, many think they can get away with using the microwave by shaking the bottle to get rid of unsafe hotposts. But this is dangerous and shouldn’t be done. Additionally, this most certainly will kill breastmilk components during the heating process.
Best Practices for Warming Breast Milk
Both breastmilk and formula have vital nutrients. But more care needs to be taken with breastmilk due to the need to protect components that are only found in human milk.
According to this study, overheating can destroy some of these properties because it is a “fresh, living nourishment containing many antioxidant, antibacterial, prebiotic, probiotic, and immune-boosting properties in addition to proteins, essential fats, enzymes, hormones, etc, many of them are uniquely human-coded.”
Ideally, a breast milk bottle should be given at 98.6 degrees (body temperature). Damage to the milk can begin to occur at 104 degrees, so take care to never heat up to a temperature beyond that. The best way to ensure your baby receives milk at a safe temperature is to use a bottle warmer that can warm to exact temperatures with the push of a button, such as the Baby’s Brew.
Warming Baby Bottles On the Go
Warming a baby bottle at home is a fairly easy task. Yes, it may involve some wait time if you don’t use a bottle warmer, but warm water from the tap and a bowl are both easily accessible. This is not usually true when you’re on the go.
But we all need to get out of the house and live life, so what’s the best way to warm a bottle while out and about?
This is exactly why you’ll want a portable bottle warmer. Electric bottle warmers do a great job at home, but you can’t just pull the plug and bring them along for the ride. Most portable bottle warmers are unreliable and take a long time to heat up, but that’s not true with the Baby’s Brew.
What’s the best portable bottle warmer?
The Baby’s Brew is the world’s first battery-operated bottle warmer. It can heat up breast milk or formula within 5-10 minutes with the simple push-of-a-button, making it one of the fastest ways to warm a bottle. With 4 different temperature settings, you can be sure breastmilk is warmed to a temperature that will keep nutrients preserved and that your formula-fed baby gets their milk exactly the way they like it. Its sleek design makes it easy to throw in your diaper bag and go!
It’s so good in fact that it’s actually our favorite all-around baby bottle warmer...perfect at your bedside for all those late-night bottle feedings.
Q: How to use a bottle warmer?
A: To make sure that you get the best results with a bottle warmer, you should always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. There are many different types of bottle warmers and they all work a little differently. Generally they will use either a heating plate, steam or a water bath for heating. For warmers like The Baby’s Brew, you’ll attach your bottle to the heating plate and select your desired temperature. For warmers that use steam, you’ll use a measured amount of water in the bottom of the warmer and place your bottle on top for warming. For water bath warming, you’ll place your bottle in the warmer in the bath of water and select the desired temperature.
Q: Do you need a bottle warmer?
A: Not every baby has a preference for milk temperature, but many do. Typically babies prefer a bottle around 98ºF or typical body temp, especially babies that go from breast to bottle. Having a bottle warmer can be helpful when you need a warm bottle quickly for a hungry baby! Many bottle warmers have multiple temperature settings so there is more selection depending on what baby prefers.
Q: What types of bottle warmers are there?
A: There are many different types of bottle warmers and they all work a little differently. Generally they will use either a heating plate, steam or a water bath for heating.
Q: How do you warm a bottle on the go?
A: A portable travel bottle warmer is a must have for warming a bottle on the go!
Q: How long does it take to warm a baby bottle?
A: Bottle warmers deliver a warm bottle fast, typically much faster than you could warm a bottle using hot water. Warming times can vary greatly between bottle warmer brands, but typically you can have a warm bottle in less than 10 minutes. Warming times can depend greatly on starting temperature of the milk or water, desired completed temperature, warming method and amount of liquid.
Q: What is the best temperature for breastmilk
A: Did you know that the nutrients in breastmilk start getting damaged at 104ºF? Unfortunately many new parents overheat breastmilk. Hot sink water can average between 120º-140ºF. Most babies prefer body temperature milk of 98.6ºF or 37ºC.
Q: What temperature should my baby’s bottle be?
A: Most babies prefer body temperature milk of 98.6ºF or 37ºC. For babies who suffer from colic and digestive issues, a slightly warmer bottle can help. 103º is the hottest you can warm a breastmilk bottle before damaging the nutrients.
Q: How do you warm a bottle while traveling?
A: A portable bottle warmer is a must have for traveling. There are a couple types of portable bottle warmers. There are battery powered warmers like The Baby’s Brew and there are also thermos type warmers that use hot water as the heat source.
Q: How do you use The Baby’s Brew bottle warmer?
A: Using your Baby’s Brew is as easy as attaching it to a bottle, flipping it over and selecting your desired temperature (80ºF, 98ºF, 103ºF and 110ºF). The warmer will stop heating and maintain the set temperature. There are over 30 different bottle brands that fit directly onto the warmer and another 15 brands that have adapters available for purchase.