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Even if you’re a breastfeeding mama, the time is inevitably going to come where your little one is going to need to eat and you won’t be available. That, of course, is when the ever-so-handy baby bottle comes in.

Now, warming milk before giving it to your babe in a bottle is a personal choice. If you’re breastfeeding, warm milk is what they’re used to, so they might be more keen to drink from a bottle if it’s familiar. If that’s the case, you have some options when it comes to warming.

While it seems like the easiest option, popping a bottle in the microwave is a no-no as it won’t evenly heat the milk and can create hot spots that might burn your baby’s mouth. Plus many experts believe that microwaves can destroy critical nutrients, especially in breast milk.

Some parents choose to warm milk that’s been stored in the refrigerator by placing the bottle in a bowl of hot water. It’s a tried and true method that’s been used for generations.

Others choose to get technical and go with a bottle warmer. The goal of a bottle warmer is to heat a bottle of milk or formula fairly quickly without the risk of creating hot spots. And many are designed with automatic shutoff features to prevent overheating the bottle.

It’s really up to you. Some parents swear by them for late-night feedings or when mom is away — others say a bowl of hot water and a thermometer work just fine.

And yes, it’s yet another item to add to your baby registry or shopping list. But if you decide a warmer is for you, they’re available in a wide range of prices (depending on brand, features, etc.), and we’ve picked a few that are worth investigating.

To make our selections, we considered a range of features — specifically safety, ease of use, whether it was best for breast milk versus formula (or both), whether it included accessories, the price, and bottle compatibility. We also read customer reviews from parents, both positive and negative.

Price guide

  • $ = under $30
  • $$ = $30–$50
  • $$$ = over $50

Best for breast milk

Munchkin Digital Bottle Warmer

Price: $$

Munchkin is a brand that any new parent will become instantly familiar with thanks to their useful sippy cups, plates, and utensils. Their digital bottle warmer works with a lift-out basket and a “safe steam warning” that helps ensure breastfeeding parents that nutrients won’t be destroyed during the heating process.

A lot of people really love this product and say that it’s been a staple in their household through multiple infants. But a handful of negative reviews claim that their warmer stopped working after a few uses or that the water chamber leaked.

Pros

  • This Munchkin warmer uses steam warming to ensure nutrients aren’t destroyed in breast milk.
  • The warmer has a simple control panel design with a backlit digital display.
  • It’s designed to fit most bottles and jars.

Cons

  • Water may occasionally overfill the internal chamber, which can overheat the milk.
  • The display panel may not be easy to use for late-night feedings.

Kiinde Twist Breastmilk Collection, Storage, and Feeding System Gift Set

Price: $$$

Although pricey, breastfeeding parents will appreciate that this is a complete feeding system and warmer from Kiinde. If you’ve ever tried to transfer expressed milk to another container for freezing or storage, you know the heartbreak of spilling that liquid gold — especially if you’re struggling with production or the process in general.

This collection includes direct-pump storage bags so all you have to do is swap the top and they’re ready for the fridge or freezer.

Reviewers like that you can use nipples from different bottle brands just in case your baby is particular, and that you can warm and thaw straight from the freezer. But a few comment that it takes a while to warm up, and some say it malfunctioned after a while.

Pros

  • The Kiinde system minimizes the risk of spilling expressed breast milk.
  • Universal nipple compatibility for babies that are picky about their bottles.
  • It comes with a complete system — including pouches that you can pump directly into and freeze, caps, a bottle that the pouches attach to, and a heating system.

Cons

  • The warming function can take longer than other brands.
  • Some reviewers reported the warmer stopped working within a few months of purchase or first use.

Best warmer and sterilizer combo

Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Warmer and Sterilizer

Price: $$

Manually sterilizing bottles can be a chore — especially if you’re going with the old-school stovetop method.
This warmer from Dr. Brown’s is designed as a 2-in-1 solution with a simple interface that’s easy to use, according to a number of reviewers. It can only sterilize one bottle at a time, but it’s multi-functional in that the sterilizer feature can be used for pacifiers, too.

The warmer works with Dr. Brown bottles, but it’s also designed to offer a universal fit for most competitor brands and baby food jars, too. It features a simple interface with a digital screen.

However, some reviewers said it can be hard to pour water into the reservoir without spilling it. Plus, this warmer requires distilled water, so you can’t just rely on the tap.

Pros

  • The device is designed to work as a bottle warmer and sterilizer.
  • The warmer has a simple interface that’s easy to use, according to reviewers.
  • It can also be used to sterilize pacifiers and other small items.
  • The warmer automatically shuts off 60 seconds after the warming cycle completes.

Cons

  • Customers say it can be difficult to pour water into the reservoir without spilling it.
  • The warmer requires distilled water.

Best portable bottle warmer

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Travel Bottle Warmer

Price: $

This portable warmer from Tommee Tippee is an affordable solution for heating bottles on the go. It works by combining a thermal flask with a bottle holder. The flask can be filled with hot water in advance and keeps it hot for hours.

When you’re ready, pour the hot water from the flask into the bottle holder and insert your bottle. Parents will appreciate that this warmer fits Comotomo, Philips Avent, Tommy Tippee, MAM, and more standard-size bottles.

Most reviews on this portable warmer are very positive, saying it’s easy to clean and that it keeps water hot for a very long time. However, a few say they’ve experienced leakage, suggesting that the quality isn’t consistent.

Pros

  • The warmer has a travel-friendly design so you can feed your baby on the go.
  • The thermal flask keeps water hot for hours, allowing you to warm when needed.
  • Mostly universal bottle compatibility.

Cons

  • Thermos has a tendency to leak.
  • The design of the thermos lid makes it hard to tell if the bottle is properly closed.
  • You can’t control the temperature, as with many of the plug-in versions on this list.

Best warmer and cooler combo

First Years Night Cravings Bottle Warmer & Cooler

Price: $$

The First Years Night Cravings Bottle Warmer & Cooler is an affordable solution for warming and cooling bottles. It’s designed to hold two bottles at once and can warm breast milk, formula, and even baby food. It can also keep two bottles cool for up to 8 hours thanks to a re-freezable ice pack and insulated container.

It isn’t common to have a built-in cooler attached to a bottle warmer — but it can be a great feature. It can come in handy during those early newborn months when you need to keep either premixed formula or previously expressed breast milk cool, but nearby, for overnight feedings.

Keep in mind that breast milk can be stored at 77 degrees for just 4 hours, and formula only lasts at that temperature for 2 hours. The company doesn’t specify how cool the cooler gets, but it’s likely best to err on the side of caution and use it for less than 4 hours for breast milk and 2 for formula.

Despite the manufacturer’s claims that this warmer fits all sizes of bottles, reviewers warn that wider bottles are not a fit for this system (one mom even says Tommee Tippee bottles got so hot the milk burned her when testing on her wrist).

Pros

  • This device is multi-purpose, it serves as a bottle warmer and also has a cooler to store extra milk or formula.
  • The cooler can keep bottles cold for up to 8 hours.
  • The device is travel-friendly, with a compact design and handle.

Cons

  • Even though the company advertises this as a universal bottle fit, it may not be ideal for wider bottles.

Best universal warmer

Baby Brezza Safe + Smart Bottle Warmer

Price: $$$

While this is another splurge, Baby Brezza is a name parents trust because their products have a reputation for working efficiently and safely.

Their Smart Bottle Warmer is a universal fit option, making it a great option to consider regardless of what bottle and brand you regularly use.

The system is designed to work with breast milk, formula, and baby food jars. Toggle between “steady warm” for breast milk and “quick warm” for formula and food. And while it’s compact, it can also be used to thaw breast milk in storage bags.

You can also control the settings via Bluetooth by using their proprietary app, although reviewers say this is an unnecessary function.

Other critical reviews claim that the “quick warm” setting requires speedy action on mom or dad’s part, as leaving the bottle in too long makes the bottle too hot.

One mom points out that the lid feature can lead to steam burns if not careful, and another says they wish there was an extended-warm feature.

Pros

  • The warmer is designed to have a universal fit that’s compatible with various bottle sizes.
  • It has a dedicated breast milk setting to protect nutrients.
  • The compact design is ideal for people with smaller kitchens or limited counter space.

Cons

  • This is one of the more expensive bottle warmers on our list.
  • Inconsistent bottle heating times could prove frustrating for parents and hungry babies, alike.

Philips Avent Fast Bottle Warmer

Price: $$

This warmer from Philips Avent might look simple, but if you and your baby swear by wider bottles, you’ll like that the opening is more than large enough to accommodate wide bottles. It’s a great option for Comotomo bottles, if those are your go-to!

There’s a simple defrost setting to help thaw frozen milk or baby food, and parents short on space will appreciate its small footprint.

That being said, if you’re looking for bells and whistles, this isn’t your warmer. While most folks seem to know what they’re in for when purchasing this no-frills option, many reviewers complain that this product doesn’t have a temperature setting or automatic shutoff. Others say the results are inconsistent.

Pros

  • This warmer has an analog design that’s fairly user-friendly.
  • The larger opening can accommodate wider bottles.
  • Users can adjust the temperature based on bottle content and quantity, or use the defrost setting.

Cons

  • The warmer doesn’t have an automatic shut-off setting.
  • It may not warm consistently.

Best budget warmer

BabyX Bottle Warmer

Price: $

Budget-friendly doesn’t have to mean low on features. But if you’re working with a strict budget (and don’t want to go the stovetop bottle warming route), the BabyX Fast Bottle Warmer is one of the most affordable options when most brands are double this price.

It quickly warms milk while also doubling as a sterilizer and pacifier sanitizer. Designed as a universal warmer, you can also use silicone, plastic, and glass bottles in this device.

Parents like the small size, and the auto-shutoff function. However, this machine lacks a defrost feature and a timer, and a few reviewers say they wish there was a night light and that the instructions were more detailed. With a price that’s less than $25, it’s hard to go wrong.

Pros

  • The budget-friendly price makes it a good choice for nearly anyone.
  • The device can also double as a sterilizer and pacifier sanitizer.
  • It has a universal design that works with glass, silicone, and/or plastic bottles.

Cons

  • It lacks a defrost function for parents who want to freeze breast milk.
  • The device doesn’t have a nightlight.

Best looking on the countertop

Boon Orb Bottle Warmer

Price: $

If you’re a fan of those adorable, grass-like bottle drying racks with flower and twig accessories, you might also like the sleek design of this bottle warmer.

While the Boon Orb can only heat one bottle at a time, it’s a great choice if you’re focused on design aesthetic and already have other Boon accessories.

The Boon warmer relies on steam heat to gently heat bottles and baby food jars. Plus it’s a portable option thanks to its small size. Parents like that this warmer works with a variety of bottles thanks to a removable insert that adjusts the chamber size.

A few parents complain that the timer doesn’t audibly notify you when the warmer is done, and some folks say that the water measurement system is confusing and difficult to use.

Pros

  • The Boon Orb uses steam heat to evenly heat bottles — preventing hot spots or overheating.
  • Its compact size makes it portable and travel-friendly.
  • The device includes a basket designed to hold baby food jars for warming.

Cons

  • It can only heat one bottle at a time.
  • The bottle warmer doesn’t have a sound or chime to notify you when heating is complete.

Best for speedy warming

Chicco Digital Bottle & Baby Food Jar Warmer

Price: $$

This option from Chicco lets you automatically customize the heat settings based on the volume and current temperature of your bottle or baby food.

With 12 different temperature settings, you know that you can quickly heat a bottle of room temperature formula or breast milk. With the right temperature setting, you can avoid overheating or destroying nutrients in breast milk.

It’s a compact warmer with an LCD that counts down the time remaining.

Parents like that you can select the current temperature of the bottle or food, and adjust the volume to get an accurate timer. That means you won’t spend forever with a crying baby as you wait and guess whether that bottle of milk is ready to go.

Negative reviews of this product say this warmer is too complicated. And one mom notes that this is best for parents who use the same size bottles every time, as the measurement system takes a while to get used to.

Pros

  • The device has 12 temperature settings for customized warming based on the formula or milk’s starting temperature and volume.
  • It comes with an insert that works with baby food jars.
  • The device is designed with a universal fit for most baby bottles.

Best Compact Bottle Warmer

Baby’s Brew Portable Bottle Warmer Pro

Price: $$$

This compact baby bottle warmer from Baby’s Brew is a splurge, to say the least. However, it’s ideal if you know you’re not going to be home or anywhere near an electricity source

While it’s only designed to accommodate one bottle at a time, you’ll get 8 to 12 hours of battery life on a full charge. The Portable Bottle Warmer Pro is ideal for both breast milk and formula feedings

This device is universal with most plastic, silicone, and wide neck bottles. The company also carries adapters if you find that it’s not a perfect fit with your bottle

While this is a good choice for warming breast milk, keep in mind that it’s not compatible with all ready-to-feed or premixed formulas, so you’ll have to check the specifications to make sure it works with yours. Still, you’ll get a leak proof design and quick operation that heats a bottle in 8 to 10 minutes.

Pros

  • A travel-friendly compact design that can go anywhere.
  • The device offers 8 to 12 hours of battery life on a full charge.
  • It’s compatible with most bottle designs, regardless of size and material.

Cons

  • It has a relatively long heating time — taking anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.
  • It’s not compatible with all ready-to-feed or premixed formula options.

Best for Pouch Warming

Tommee Tippee 3 in 1 Advanced Baby Bottle & Pouch Warmer

Price: $$

Whether you’re warming expressed milk or you prefer bottle liners to minimize the risk of gas, not all bottle warmers are designed to be compatible with heating pouches

The Tommee Tippee 3 in 1 Advanced Baby Bottle & Pouch Warmer is an exception. It’s intended for heating breast milk pouches, but will also work with most plastic and glass bottles — as well as baby food jars

The device has an automatic timer that shuts off when the warming cycle is complete. Additionally, you can safely warm food and bottles within 4 minutes.

While it lacks a digital control panel, you’ll appreciate the simple push-button panel that allows you to adjust by bottle/pouch style, current temperature, and total liquid volume.

Pros

  • It’s specifically designed to warm pouches as well as bottles — but it’s also compatible with food jars.
  • The warmer is compatible with most bottles, regardless of material and size.
  • It has an auto shut-off and automatic timer function.

Cons

  • It lacks a digital control panel.
  • Finding the perfect setting may require a learning curve.

Whether you’re putting a bottle warmer on your baby registry or are shopping after your baby has arrived, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Bottle compatibility

The last thing you want is to find yourself fumbling to transfer milk or formula from one bottle to another because your preferred bottles don’t fit in the opening of your bottle warmer. This is especially true if your little one favors wider or uniquely shaped bottles like Comotomo, Tommy Tippee, or Medela.

Where possible, we’ve listed which options in our recommendations are universal or designed for wider bottles.

Breast milk vs. formula

Parents who rely on formula don’t have to be quite as concerned (beyond not overheating a bottle that might burn their baby) but if you’re breastfeeding, overheated milk can lose nutritional value.

Look for warmers designed with auto shut-off features or special breast milk slow-warming features that help ensure milk will never get too hot. Likewise, if you’re pumping and storing milk, a defrost function is essential so that in a pinch you or other caretakers can quickly thaw and warm a bottle.

Capacity

Do you want a warmer that can heat multiple bottles at once, or are you okay with a single-bottle capacity? There’s no right or wrong answer here. But if you’re caring for multiples, a larger capacity bottle warmer would be a good idea.

Accessories

While not a necessity, the right accessories can make a bottle warmer more intuitive and easier to use.

For example, a removable basket means you won’t accidentally stick your hands in hot water while retrieving a bottle. And a complete breast milk storage and warming system can be a lifesaver since pumping milk can be an adventure on its own.

Ease of use

Imagine yourself trying to use a bottle warmer with one hand in the middle of the night while you’re exhausted, half asleep, and holding a wailing child. If the device seems a tad complicated for your sleep-deprived mind to manage, keep looking.

Meanwhile, features like automatic shut-off, Bluetooth operation, and even a cooler feature can be a lifeline — especially in those early days.

Budget

Of course, you can’t forget the budget. In our guide, we’ve highlighted a range of options from budget-friendly (less than $30) to splurges (more than $50). But you’ll note that most of our options sit in the budget and moderate price ranges.

If you’re putting a bottle warmer on your registry, don’t feel guilty about asking for the splurge as long as it meets your needs.

The biggest risk in using a bottle warmer is overheating the milk — always test the temperature of the milk on your wrist before feeding to your baby. If you’ve acquired a bottle warmer from a friend and have any concerns, check the ConsumerProduct Safety Commission website for recalls.

It’s also wise to review the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for storing and thawing breast milk, and remember to never reheat breast milk more than once as it can destroy nutrients.

How to clean a bottle warmer?

After each use you should immediately pour out the water in the reservoir and wipe down any visible components to prevent rusting, or hard water build-up.

This regular maintenance doesn’t need to be a deep clean. However, you’ll want to periodically clean your bottle warmer to prevent bacteria, mold, hard water, and general dirt from building up — especially if you let water sit in the reservoir for prolonged periods.

During deeper cleans, start by filling the reservoir with hot soapy water and letting it sit to help loosen any dirt or debris. After, pour out the water and use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down or gently scrub the sides to remove any stubborn spots.

Alternatively, you can use a descaler — similar to what you’d use to clean a coffee maker — to remove any hard water buildup, like limescale or other mineral deposits.

You can opt for a pre-made descaling solution or DIY one with a 1-to-2 part ratio of white vinegar to water. For example, if you use 2 ounces of vinegar, you’ll need 4 ounces of water.

Pour the solution into the reservoir and turn the bottle warmer on. Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes and then turn it off. The solution should sit in the warmer until any mineral build-up is dissolved.

Then dispose of the mixture by dumping it down the drain. Wipe down the reservoir and if any scale remains, repeat the descaling process.

How to use a bottle warmer?

Not all bottle warmers operate in the same way, so it’s best to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your specific bottle warmer.

However, generally speaking, you’ll start by filling a reservoir with water and adjust the amount based on the size of the bottle you’re inserting.

You’ll likely need to change the temperature and timer settings based on what you’re heating (breast milk, formula, or baby food). Though some warmers are only compatible with one or two of those options, so make sure you consult the instructions beforehand.

Some bottle warmers have an automatic shut-off feature, which prevents liquids or foods from being overheated — but not all do.

If you own a warmer without an automatic shut-off feature, you’ll want to pay attention to the recommended time settings and remove the bottle or baby food jar once the warming time has elapsed.

How long can you keep milk in a bottle warmer?

Timing will depend on whether you’re heating breast milk or formula.

If you’re heating breast milk, most experts including the CDC and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) recommend that you use the breast milk within 2 hours of warming.

For formula feeding, guidelines are similar but not as specific. The CDC recommends that prepared infant formula be used within 2 hours of preparation and within 1 hour from when you begin feeding your baby.

They discourage reusing any leftover formula in your baby’s bottle from a previous feeding. The CDC doesn’t clarify if there’s a difference in formula that’s at room temperature as opposed to heated, so it’s a good idea to either use it shortly after, or dispose of warmed formula that’s been out for an extended period.

Even though you might not need a bottle warmer, it can make life a lot easier. This is especially true in the early days when you’re exhausted and not firing on all cylinders.

Think about whether you’re planning to breastfeed versus use formula (or a combination of both), and whether you want a warmer that can only heat one item at a time or a dual-capacity option.

Whichever you choose, be sure that it’s a bottle warmer that’s easy for you to use and safely warms your baby’s bottles without impacting nutritional value.