Baby Gear Health & Safety

Do I Need A Bottle Warmer? (Pros, Cons, Are They Worth It)

As a parent there are certain things you simply must have for your baby, such as diapers, wipes, strollers, a crib or bassinet and a car seat.

But at the same time, there are a lot of other items that are more of a nice-to-have than a necessity.

If you’re thinking about buying a bottle warmer or adding one to your baby registry, it’s helpful to understand the pros and cons, so you can determine if a bottle warmer is really something you need.

In reality most people don’t need to use a bottle warmer given they take up space and may overcomplicate the warming up process.

But on the other hand a lot of parents find their speed, reliability and ease of use are worth paying for.

So let’s take a look in more detail to so you can decide if you really need one or not.

Do I Need A Bottle Warmer?

As a new parent with a long list of things to buy for your baby, you may be asking yourself if you really need a bottle warmer.

The answer is that for most people bottle warmers are not a necessity as such, so they are not something you need to have.

However, there are several benefits to using a bottle warmer for warming up breast milk and formula, so it’s important to consider both their benefits as well as their drawbacks.

Related: Deciding What Baby Gear You Really Need – The Complete Guide

How Do Bottle Warmers Work?

Before going on, it may be helpful to describe how these devices work and explain exactly what they do.

Baby bottle warmers are designed to take the guesswork out of warming your child’s bottle of milk.

The idea behind using a bottle warmer is that the bottle (or more specifically the milk inside) is warmed up to the ideal temperature every single time.

Most contain an area or chamber in the center in which you place your baby’s bottle, before filling the space around the bottle with a certain amount of water.

You then turn the device on by turning a dial or pressing a button, and once the cycle is finished you can remove the bottle and you’re good to go.

Most bottle warmers need to be plugged in because they run on electricity, although it’s worth noting that there are a few that are battery-powered, which can be useful when traveling with your baby.

Related: Your Must Have Baby & Toddler Feeding Guide

Can You Use A Bottle Warmer For Breast Milk?

Yes, bottle warmers can be used to heat breast milk that’s been stored in the refrigerator.

It’s important to note however that breast milk and baby formula do not need to be warmed up, and it’s perfectly safe to give your baby cold milk.

So why do a lot of parents warm their child’s milk up?

The answer usually comes down to two reasons – either because their baby is fussy and may refuse to drink milk which hasn’t been warmed up, or because the parents simply prefer to give their baby warm rather than cold milk.

How Long Can You Leave Breast Milk In A Bottle Warmer?

The general consensus is that you can safely leave breast milk in a bottle warmer for up to four hours.

Most devices have an auto switch off setting, so you can leave your baby’s bottle in there without worrying about the milk overheating.

However, if you’ve left a bottle of breastmilk in a warmer for more than 4 hours, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dispose of the milk in case harmful bacteria has started to grow, especially as formula and breastmilk should only be heated once.

Do You Need A Bottle Warmer For Formula?

As with breast milk, formula does not need to be warmed up before its given to your baby.

In addition, there are other ways you could heat up formula – for example some alternatives include running the bottle under warm water, placing it in a container full of warm water for a few minutes, or setting the bottle out on your counter top until it warms up to room temperature.

But if you like the benefits of using a bottle warmer (see below) then you might want to consider buying one, even though it’s certainly not a necessity or the only way to warm up your baby’s milk.

Pros & Cons Of Bottle Warmers

Pros Of Bottle Warmers

  • Consistent temperature. The majority of devices contain features that prevent overheating. This means you won’t need to worry about giving your baby milk which may scald them.
  • Speed. They are designed to warm up your baby’s milk quickly, which could be super useful at 2am in the morning!
  • Option to multitask. If you use a bottle warmer your baby’s milk will only heat up to a certain pre-determined heat. This means you can leave it in there for a while if you need to change a diaper or tend to your baby in some other way, without worrying about the milk becoming ever hotter.

Cons Of Bottle Warmers

  • Space. It’s important to ask yourself whether you’ve got the necessary space for another device in your home (or more specifically in your kitchen).
  • Cost. Bottle warmers can cost up to $100, although there are many cheaper options for around $40-$50.
  • Not as fast as you may think. Bottle warmers don’t instantly warm up milk – it can still take a few minutes, so you may not save any time compared to other methods.
  • Cleaning. Bottle warmers need to be cleaned and descaled every 2-4 weeks to ensure they continue to work well and to prolong their lifespan.

Are Bottle Warmers Worth It?

So in conclusion, are bottle warmers actually worth the money, and are they something you really need?

The answer depends on your personal preferences and circumstances.

If your baby is mostly or exclusively bottle fed, and you want to speed things up (and make life slightly easier for yourself during the middle of the night), then you may want to consider purchasing a bottle warmer.

However, if your baby is mostly breastfed, you give your baby cold or lukewarm milk (which is quicker to prepare) or you’re perfectly happy using other methods to warm your child’s bottle, then a warmer is probably something you could happily live without.

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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