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The best bottle warmer

Heat milk in a bottle warmer to body temperature, which is around 98.5°F. Overheating can burn your baby’s mouth and compromise nutrients in the milk.
Heat milk in a bottle warmer to body temperature, which is around 98.5°F. Overheating can burn your baby’s mouth and compromise nutrients in the milk.(BestReviews)

If you've ever tried to warm up your baby's bottle on the stovetop, you know how much guesswork is involved. And when your little one wakes up in the middle of the night, no half-asleep parents needs that hassle.

Bottle warmers will save you both time and trouble. Unlike other methods of heating bottles, they're safe and won't overheat your baby's milk. In this shopping guide, we'll introduce you to the different types of bottle warmers on the market as well as what features will make your life easier. We've also included reviews of a few of our favorites at the end. Our top choice is the Philips Avent baby bottle warmer, which heats liquids evenly every time and includes a basket to warm up jars of baby food, too.

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Considerations when choosing bottle warmers

Types

There are four types of bottle warmers that are most commonly used:

Gentle bottle warmers use a warm bath to gradually raise the temperature of milk to about 98°F. While this is the slowest type of bottle warmer you can buy (it takes around five minutes to heat the bottle), you can be sure your baby's milk isn't overheated.

Sanitizing bottle warmers use steam to heat the bottle and also sanitize it. Some can even be used to disinfect pacifiers if the warming chamber is the right size. While the steam heats the bottle faster than the warm-water bath method, it is more difficult to control the temperature. Always shake the bottle after it's been heated to even out hot spots that can burn your baby's mouth.

Combination bottle warmers combine a food processor with a bottle warmer. These devices not only heat and sanitize bottles but they can blend and steam food for your little one, too. However, these other functions may mean the bottle-warming feature isn't top-notch.

Portable bottle warmers are designed for travel and don't require an electrical outlet that the other types do. Some are battery-powered, while others can plug into your car's cigarette lighter.

Capacity

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While the majority of bottle warmers are designed to warm one bottle at a time, if you've got twins or more bottle-fed babies in the household, consider purchasing a double bottle warmer to speed things up.

Ease of cleaning

If you're purchasing a steam warmer, be sure its component parts can be disassembled for cleaning. This type of warmer has a water chamber that can trap water and grow mold. It's a good idea to regularly clean and dry whatever type of warmer you buy.

Warming setting

Warmers come with different warming settings. Some only have one while others include the following: "Quick warm" settings on steam warmers will quickly heat up the bottle; "stay warm" settings keep the milk warm at a consistent temperature after it's been heated; and some advanced warmers have a "starting temperature" setting, which allows you to change the warming time based on whether the milk is frozen or refrigerated.

Features

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Auto shutoff timer: For safety, select a bottle warmer that features a timer that automatically shuts off when the milk reaches a certain temperature, or the water level gets too low.

Universal warming chamber: Baby bottles come in all sizes -- short, fat, tall, or angled -- and not all warmers will fit all bottles. A warmer featuring a universal chamber should fit most bottles.

Cooler: For nighttime feedings, a warmer with an attached cooler can eliminate a trip to the fridge; it keeps a bottle or two cold during the night until you're ready to heat it up.

Alarms: Audio or visual alarms will alert you when the bottle is ready. With all that you have going on in your life, it's easy to forget you have a bottle warming up.

Night light/LED displays: Both night lights and LED displays make nighttime feedings a whole lot easier. Night lights can help keep you from knocking over the appliance, and LED displays are readable in the dark and easy to use.

Price

Bottle warmers cost less than $20 to upward of $100. Expect to pay between $25 and $50 for a warmer with important features like an auto shutoff or sterilization.

FAQ

Q. Does the bottle warmer need to be the same brand as my baby's bottle?

A. No. Although feeding systems often include a bottle warmer that'll perfectly fit your baby's bottle, a warmer with a universal warming chamber should fit most bottles.

Q. Do bottle warmers have programmable timers?

A. Some more advanced warmers include this feature, which allows you to program ahead of time when you want the heating to begin. Programmable timers are especially helpful for nighttime feedings.

Bottle warmers we recommend

Our take: From a trusted brand in the industry, this popular warmer heats up milk and baby food in minutes.

What we like: Warms evenly. Features a defrost setting. Compact. Heats up toddler cups and baby food jars and includes baskets for them so the steam won't burn you.

What we dislike: Doesn't have a timer.

Our take: A versatile and inexpensive warmer that heats both bottles and baby food.

What we like: Includes a jar basket for glass baby jars. Steam heat is quick and efficient. Easy to use. Night light feature.

What we dislike: Learning curve when it comes to how much water needs to be added.

Our take: An affordable warmer featuring a cooler for nighttime convenience.

What we like: Removable cooler keeps two bottles cold for up to eight hours. Shuts off automatically when the water chamber is empty. Quick to warm.

What we dislike: For some parents, the unit doesn't heat up fast enough.

Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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