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Do I need a bottle warmer for breast milk?
That's one of the most frequent questions that I received with regards to breast milk storage and handling.
While you can, 'of course', choose not to have one, owning a bottle warmer can make things a lot easier to handle, so I would recommend it as part of your pumping essentials.
In this article, I'd share why you need a bottle warmer for breast milk, things to consider while choosing one, and the 5 best bottle warmers for breast milk in the current market.
This post is part of Pumping Essentials series. Other post in this series:
(this post contains affiliate links)
First of all...
Not all babies prefer warm breast milk. Some are fine with cold ones and if that's the case, of course, you don't need a bottle warmer at all.
But if your baby wants warm milk like my baby, this post is for you!
WHY YOU NEED A BOTTLE WARMER FOR BREAST MILK
First, it is easier to prepare breast milk for feeding.
Let’s just compare...
Without a bottle warmer, here’s what you typically do:
(Assuming the milk is already thawed and stored in the chiller).
1. Take out the milk from the chiller
2. Soak inside the warm (or slightly hot) water (while carefully measures the temperature so that it is not too hot for breast milk, else you risk destroying some nutrients inside).
3. Check after a few minutes
4. Still not warm enough? Change the warm water with a new batch.
(Doing this, while your baby is crying constantly asking for milk => not fun).
What if the milk is frozen?
So perhaps you accidentally forgot to thaw it the night before, or your baby needs some extra (and you have no more chilled milk)
Ha.. this will be even a bigger drama!
Psst.. I remember I tried to crush the frozen milk to make it melt faster (don’t be like me, okay).
Now, what if you have a bottle warmer:
- Take out milk from the chiller
- Put inside the bottle warmer
- The warmer stops operating after a predefined minutes
- The temperature has been set in such a way to avoid breast milk overheating.
- The fact that you know how long the milk will be ready will make you feel calmer when dealing with your hungry baby.
Some bottle warmers can even warm breast milk from a frozen state (which is an added value especially if you rely a lot on freezer stash).
Second, having a bottle warmer means you get some expected waiting time, unlike when you warm the milk conventionally.
Third, it is easier to teach a caregiver to warm breast milk with a bottle warmer rather than the conventional method.
If you plan to hire a nanny, or perhaps grandma will take care your baby while you are away, what would you think they will choose? Using a bottle warmer or hot water to warm the milk?
Fourth, a bottle warmer gives you less risk associated with milk overheating, so long as you follow the instruction carefully.
THINGS TO CONSIDER IN CHOOSING A BOTTLE WARMER
Now that you understand the benefit of having a bottle warmer, it's time to choose the one you want to get, right. There are so many types and model out there, how would you know the one most suitable for you? Let's take a look on a few factors.
1. What kind of bottle/ milk storage can the bottle warmer handle
Not all bottle warmers can heat any bottle size. Some only accommodate slim, standard-size bottles, some only suitable for wide-neck bottles, some can warm glass bottles, while other can even warm a breast milk bag.
So, think first about what kind of bottle you'd like to use for feeding (is it plastic or glass?) Would you think you will warm right from a breast milk bag?
2. Ease to use
You are going to use the bottle warmer a few times a day to warm breast milk, so it is essential to check how easy it is to use.
Does it have a digital panel showing you the temperature / how many more minutes left? Is there an auto-shut-off feature or you need to set a timer yourself?
We want the milk to be evenly heated (no hotspot present) and it reaches the ideal maximum temperature for breast milk. As you know, when breast milk is overheated, you risk loosing some of the nutrients inside.
Does size matter for you? Bottle warmer can eat a lot of counter top space, but some of them have slimmer design.
6. Waiting time for heating
I guess every mom wants the warmer that can heat breast milk as fast as possible.
But bear in mind that there's usually a trade off between all these factors. We will see more when we discuss each of the bottle warmers below.
TOP 5 BOTTLE WARMERS FOR BREAST MILK
Quick summary if you are in hurry...
1. Kiinde Kozi BOTTLE WARMER
This bottle warmer is special in my opinion. It is designed specifically to heat breast milk. This is proven from its 'patent-pending' technology to avoid breast milk overheating. Not only that, it accommodates various breast milk storage option, including breast milk bag.
What I Like About Kiinde Kozi
- Versatile: Can be used with standard and wide-neck bottles(both glass and plastic) plus breast milk bags (not only Kiinde pouch but other breast milk bags as well).
- Can thaw frozen breast milk
- Auto shut-off once the heating completes to avoid overheating. There's also a timer showing you how many minutes left for heating.
- Compact design which is perfect if you have limited counter space.
- Depending on milk storage material and the amount of milk, it takes between 4-12 minutes to warm the breast milk. This can be quite long especially if you have a crying baby to sooth.
- No beep sound at the end of the cycle, you better set a separate timer to notify yourself that the milk is ready.
Chicco Naturalfit bottle warmer has a simple design but works just as expected.
The knob style only lets you choose between heating a bottle or food jar, no complicated setting that may risk you to overheat your milk.
The beep sound at the end of the cycle means you don't need to set a separate timer just to let you know the bottle is ready.
What I Like About Chicco Naturalfit Bottle Warmer:
- Simple and easy to use
- Auto shut-off with beep sound to avoid over-heating
- Works for milk bottles (both standard and wide-neck types) and baby food jar
- Comes with removable basket for heating small bottle or baby food jar
- Price is pretty affordable
- One must add water for every heating cycle because it does not have a built-in reservoir.
- Takes about 7.5 minutes to warm a bottle (some parents complained that it is too long)
- Waiting time between heating is quite long (15 minutes), so may not be ideal if you need to warm 2 bottles consecutively (e.g. twin babies).
3. Philips Avent Fast BOTTLE Warmer
What I Like About Avent Fast Bottle Warmer:
- Complete heating in 5 minutes or less (you may expect slightly longer time when heating a glass bottle).
- Can be used with standard-size or wide-neck bottles, both plastic and glass.
- LED light notifies you when the bottle is ready.
- Slim design (perfect for limited counter space)
- Price is super affordable
- No beep sound at the end of the cycle, so you need to set your own timer to get notified, or stay near the warmer to watch on the LED light turning off.
- No auto shut-off feature, that means if you don't take the bottle right away once the cycle ends, you take a risk of overheating the milk.
- Must add water for every heating cycle
Having said this, Avent Fast warmer is quite popular among parents. It has received more than 800 reviews. Check out what they said here.
Dr Brown Deluxe bottle warmer is a no-fuss bottle warmer that can warm breast milk very fast.
Unlike other warmers which have a knob-style control, this one has LCD panel and key-pad to control the heating setting.
What I Like About Dr Brown Deluxe Bottle Warmer:
- Can fit both standard-size and wide-neck bottles (plastic and thermo-resistant glass)
- The water reservoir only needs to be filled up every day or two, unlike others which need constant refilling
- Auto shut-off with beep feature, so that you know when the bottle is ready
- No waiting time between heating cycles (great if you need to warm several bottles consecutively)
- Slim design (good for small counter space)
- If the bottle is left inside the warmer after the heating cycle completed, it can lead to over heating
- Difficult to clean (water reservoir has very small opening so it's difficult to clean the inside)
Unlike other bottle warmers we have discussed above, Tommee Tippee bottle warmer is different.
This warmer is meant for traveling or on the go use.
Now that if you direct latch your baby while on the go, you may not need this. But for an exclusively pumping mom, this is a life saver.
So, what makes Tommee Tippee bottle warmer special?
It is essentially just like a thermos flask, with an added plastic carafe so that you can pour the warm water to the carafe and warm your milk bottle there.
What I Like About Tommee Tippee Bottle Warmer:
- Easy to use, just pour the water to the carafe and soak the bottle there.
- Takes about 5 minutes or less to heat up a bottle
- No electricity needed (great for on the go purpose)
- Fit standard-size, wide-neck bottles, and even breast milk bags.
- Very affordable price.
- Depending on how hot the water that you put inside, it may overheat the breast milk if you don't warm it carefully.
- Bulky, may be too heavy to store inside the diaper bag, but perfect for bottom compartment under a stroller.
If you think that this bottle warmer is too simple, you may be wrong. In fact, this bottle warmer receives more than 1500 reviews in Amazon. Check it out yourself.
Curious which one of them receives the most love from parents all over the world? Check out this comparison table.
So there you go. I hope this article can help you find the best bottle warmer for your breast milk.