Looking to warm or thaw breast milk quickly from pumped milk? A bottle warmer for breast milk can be a lifesaver for new moms, but some are definitely better than others.
When You Need to Warm or Thaw Breast Milk Fast
Seeing those big eyes stare into yours while you nurse your new baby is one of the most rewarding parts of breastfeeding. At some point, though, you will either need to go back to work, get out of the house or snag a couple of hours of sleep. Pumped breast milk is the best option when you aren’t able to nurse your baby.
If you are pumping and storing your breast milk in the freezer in the hopes of getting to use it while you shower or talk to an actual adult (gasp!), warming it properly is essential. Babies don’t typically enjoy cold breast milk and microwaving your milk is a big no-no. Microwaves create hot spots in the milk that can scald your new little one’s mouth.
To warm the milk, you can heat up a pan of water, pour the water into a bowl and then place the bag or bottle of milk into the warm water and wait 15-20 minutes for the milk to warm while your baby cries out of hunger… or you can use a warmer to quickly and safely heat the stored milk and keep everyone smiling.
How to Choose a Bottle Warmer for Breast Milk
There are so many different varieties of warmers on the market and most of them will work just fine. There are some questions to ask yourself, though, when selecting a warmer:
- How easy is it to use? Look for a model that is simple and can be used easily with one hand (because chances are the other one will be holding your hungry baby).
- How efficient is it? Read reviews and look for warmers that consistently and efficiently heat the bottles.
- Is it safe? The nutrients in breast milk begin to deteriorate at 104 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s important to stay below this number for your little one’s health and nutrition. Milk should ideally be warmed to around 98 degrees. This will keep your little one from getting burned and make sure they get all of the wholesome nutrients in the milk. Look for models that have varying temperatures or a limit on how hot they will heat the milk.
- How versatile is it? If the warmer only heats one type of bottle, it may not be convenient if you are gifted different types of bottles at your shower.
- Does it take up much space? If it isn’t already, your house is soon going to be run over with baby equipment. You may not want it taking over your countertop, too.
Warmers come with a variety of features and benefits. Choosing the right one for you will depend on your situation. For example, if you are on the road a lot, a portable warmer may work best for you. If you have multiples, you are going to want to look for a model that heats more than one bottle at once. Other features that you may want to consider include:
- Uses a water bath versus steam bath heating technology
- Accommodates different sized bottles
- Sterilizes bottles to kill germs
- Automatically turns off when the milk reaches the right temperature
- Timers that allow you to heat the bottle for a certain amount of time
- Beeps when the bottle is finished
- Lights up for evening use
- Water reservoir that keeps the water warm for a long time for multiple uses
- Ability to heat bottles quickly
- Variety of setting options to customize it for your needs
- Ease of cleaning to remove hard-water buildup
- Offers multiple features, such as sterilizing or warming baby food
How Long Can You Keep Breast Milk in a Bottle Warmer?
Let’s face it: pumping breast milk is work and no one likes to see their hard work go to waste. If your little one doesn’t finish their bottle or isn’t hungry, don’t throw it out. The leftover milk can be re-fed to your little one within two hours by leaving it at room temperature or up to four hours later if you keep it in the refrigerator. The milk can then be reheated and fed to your little one. Once it is warmed, however, it should never be re-frozen as this can contaminate the milk.
The La Leche League does not recommend storing breast milk in the warmer for longer than the manufacturer’s recommended heating time. Many machines do hold a reservoir of water, however, that will warm several bottles. Read the instruction manual that came with your warmer for more details.
What is the Best Warmer for Breast Milk Bottles?
Warmers for bottles have greatly improved over the years, and current models offer a great mixture of features and convenience. Include any of these mom-recommended warmers on your baby registry to quickly heat your little one’s bottle.
This warmer makes it easy for any half-awake parent to warm up a bottle in the middle of the night with its light-up LCD control panel and a one-button start function. The steam bath heats bottles to the perfect temperatures and it features audio and visual cues to let you know when it’s ready. If you forget to turn it off, the warmer automatically turns off after eight minutes, which makes it one less thing you have to think about.
The water reservoir can heat approximately 10 bottles before needing to be re-filled. The warmer also has a memory that will heat the next bottle to your little one’s preferred temperature without any guesswork. Have a lot of different types of bottles? Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Warmer has an adjustable basket that can heat a variety of different-sized bottles.
Worried about germs? Don’t want to boil bottles or clutter your counter with a sterilizer? The Jervis & George baby warmer and sterilizer has you covered. The warmer quickly warms bottles of breast milk in three minutes, sterilizes bottles and offers both a water bath and steam feature depending on your needs.
The double breast milk warmer makes it a great option if you are feeding more than one baby. The temperature control will stop heating the milk at your desired temperature and store it there until you are prepared to feed your little one. The defrost option is a favorite feature that means you can put breast milk pouches in straight from the freezer into the warmer.
The Philips AVENT Fast warmer can be used long-beyond your little one’s newborn months. The warmer can be used to warm toddler cups and baby food jars as well as bottles of breast milk. The warmer circulates the milk as it quickly warms up, which prevents hot spots that can harm your little one.
The warmer heats milk up quickly, warming four ounces of milk in just three minutes. Its small design makes it easy to keep on a counter, dresser or nightstand without taking up much space, and the wide-mouth design of the warmer means it will work with most types of bottles.
This compact warmer was designed by parents who knew what they wanted out of the perfect warmer. The five-in-one warmer defrosts food and milk, steams food, slowly warms breast milk, quickly warms breast milk and sterilizes the bottles. The warmer has the option to either use steam to warm bottles in three minutes or a water bath to warm them in 12, preserving more of the nutrients.
The compact design means it won’t take much room on the counter and its simple LCD controls are easy to use. The wide-mouth design accommodates a variety of different-sized bottles. A favorite feature among parents is that the basket is removable and dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning a breeze.
The First Years Night Cravings warmer and cooler warms breast milk and baby food to a safe temperature. It is designed to warm a wide variety of bottles and holds enough water to warm two bottles. The removable basket is the perfect size to sterilize pacifiers when your little one throws them on the ground for the umpteenth time, and the built-in night lights mean you can warm the bottles without turning on every light in the house.
What makes the warmer stand out from the rest, though, is the attached cooler. The removable cooler holds two bottles and is large enough to keep two bottles of milk cool for up to eight hours. This means fewer trips spent stumbling-down-the-stairs in the middle of the night to get the milk and more sleep for you.
Because Moms Need a Break, Too!
Breastfeeding is an amazing bonding experience that only you can share with your baby. All moms need a break at some point, though. Bottle warmers give your baby perfectly warmed breast milk quickly and easily, which means more cuddles and less hungry, angry babies.
- When to Introduce a Bottle (and How!)
- Life with a Breastfeeding Baby
- Top Breastfeeding Mistakes the Ruin Your Milk Supply