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