Do You REALLY Need a Bottle Warmer? [incl. Pros & Cons]

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.

Updated:

Unsure if you need a bottle warmer? Here’s my article that explains the need for this accessory and how it makes taking care of babies easier and more convenient. Ultimately it boils down to TIME SAVING for you.

While bottle warmers might not seem necessary as this method is not the only way to warm baby milk, formula or food. But they certainly are the safest method. Not only do they preserve nutrients but some models are sterilizer-warmer combos, providing the additional sterilizing feature.

Key takeaways

  • Bottle warmers aren’t an essential baby item but they do make feeding routines much easier. 
  • A bottle warmer compatible with your baby bottle makes it quick and easy to heat milk from frozen. 
  • Not all babies like colder milk which makes having a bottle warmer quite handy. 
  • Other methods to warm bottles include using hot water to mix the formula or placing the bottle in a pot of hot water.
  • Some bottle warmers have a sterilizing function which makes it even easier to keep bottles sterilized. 

Are baby bottle warmers necessary?

Bottle warmers might not be necessary but they certainly do make the feeding process easier and more efficient. Especially for those late-night feedings when your little one doesn’t like cold milk!

How does a bottle warmer work?

Once you understand how bottle warmers work, you’ll see why parents love their simplicity! 

  • Pour your formula or breast milk into the bottle
  • Place the bottle in the warmer
  • Select your required temperature and you’re good to go. 
  • (Using a microwave sterilizer may require an additional step)
  • For warming food jars, simply unscrew the lid, and place the food jar into the bottle warmer. Never heat the whole jar if your little one is only going to eat a small amount. Rather dish the required quantity into another jar to avoid reheating the original jar more than once. 

Bottle warmer pros

  • Built-in safety features that prevent overheating, ensuring milk/food isn’t heated too much
  • Custom temperature settings to ensure you get the same heat level every time
  • Quickly warms bottles, reducing the time your baby is left fussing
  • Safe to use, no risk of scalding your hands as you’re not directly putting the bottle in boiling water

Bottle warmer cons

  • Requires counter space which can be challenging if you have a small space that’s already cluttered with baby gadgets
  • Can be expensive, depending on the brand you buy
  • Babies develop a preference for warm milk only

Can you use a bottle warmer to sterilize bottles?

Normally you cannot use a bottle warmer as a sterilizer since the two serve quite different purposes. When comparing bottle warmers with bottle sterilizers, the former is for warming milk, while the latter is for sterilizing bottles.

However, some bottle warmers are warmer/sterilizer combos. This means you can warm bottles and sterilize them as well. This is an added benefit for parents who don’t want to buy a separate sterilizing unit. Since steam kills about 99.9% of unseen bacteria, this feature is a huge plus. Small parts such as nipples, pacifiers and bottle components can easily be sterilized in these types of warmers. 

Alternatives to using a bottle warmer

Fortunately, not having a bottle warmer doesn’t leave you without warming options. A few of the more conventional ways of warming bottles are highlighted below. For a more detailed comparison, have a look at my article on the differences between using a microwave vs hot water vs bottle warmer methods.

Use boiling water from the tap

Parents who prepare their baby formula when it’s needed rather than freezing breast milk for later use (for example in a bottle), often prefer this method. All you need to do is make the bottle with warm water. 

You can also run the water under the warm tap for some extra heat. If the bottle is too warm, simply cool it down to a temperature of 98.6 degrees.

Use boiling water from a kettle

Mixing formula can also easily be made with boiling water from a kettle. Additionally, colder milk can be warmed up by boiling water and then placing it in a jug

By placing the bottle in the jug for a few minutes, you’ll instantly warm the milk. Test the temperature before giving it to your baby. Be sure to shake the bottle to ensure the formula/milk is evenly heated. 

Here’s a quick clip showing you how easy it is to warm a bottle without a bottle warmer. 

Use the Microwave

Another way to warm your baby bottle is to warm the water in the microwave. Health experts recommend not placing the formula or milk in the microwave. 

This method doesn’t warm the milk evenly and even creates hot pockets that may burn your baby’s mouth. For more insight into whether the bottle brand you’re using can be heated in the microwave, simply read my article about microwave-safe baby bottles

Boil water in a pot 

You can also boil water in a pot on the stovetop. Once the water boils, take it off the stove and place the bottle inside to warm up. Be careful with this method as it involves moving a pot of boiling water around. Be sure to shake the bottle and test the temperature before giving it to your baby. 

Use a prep machine

You might want to consider using a prep machine to warm baby bottles instead of a bottle warmer. Note that the prep machine solution does have its limitations, the main one being that you cannot use it to defrost milk. Here’s a separate article I wrote about comparing prep machines vs bottle warmers.

The best bottle warmers to use

If you’ve decided to invest in a bottle warmer, there are a wide variety of options to choose from. Some of the more impressive models that are popular with parents include the following:

Bottle Warmer, GROWNSY 8-in-1 Fast Baby Milk Warmer with Timer for Breastmilk or Formula, Accurate Temperature Control, with Defrost, Sterili-zing, Keep, Heat Baby Food Jars Function
  • Philips AVENT Baby Bottle Warmer: This model is compact, fuss-free and super easy to operate. With a SMART temperature control, it heats milk/formula to the desired temperature in 3 minutes. 
  • Dr. Brown’s Insta-Feed Bottle Warmer and Sterilizer Combo: Easily warm milk in as little as 80 seconds and also fits most bottle brands. Its sterilizing feature eliminates bacteria. Small parts such as nipples and pacifiers can also be sterilized in the unit. 
  • Grownsy 8-in-1 Bottle Warmer: The 8-in-1 features involve thawing, fast warming, keeping warm, food heating, steaming, timer and adjustable temperature. Ideal for warming milk and food in small jars. 
  • HEYVALUE Baby Bottle Warmer: A built-in night light makes this an ideal warmer to use in the nursery for late night feedings. A detachable water tank allows warm water to be warmed and removed to use for making formula. 
  • Baby Brezza Bottle Warmer: Features include a defroster, breastmilk warmer and baby food warmer. Suitable for all types of feeding bottles and includes both plastic and glass options. 
  • The First Year Baby Bottle Warmer and Sterilizer: This unit can be used as a bottle warmer as well as a sterilizer for bottle nipples, pacifiers and other small bottle parts. Can also be used to warm small jars of baby food.

Wrap-up

Bottle warmers are convenient for parents who need to defrost previously frozen breast milk. Whether or not you really need one, depends on your personal preference. 

If you have twins or even triplets, my article about the best bottle warmers for twins is well worth a read. Additionally, here’s an article on the best warmers suitable for various bottle brands and this one is on bottle warmers for MAM bottles!

Last update on 2024-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Author

I’m Balint, founder of this site and a father (and dad) to a baby-turned toddler. I found the world of babies so fascinating that I started a blog dedicated only to that topic. By the way, I studied physics, engineering (PhD, MSc), and therefore I do a thorough research when I write about something. Since it’s a blog, of course I also write about my personal experiences.

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