When bottle-feeding a baby, warming the bottle is something parents will end up doing many times a day.
It’s important to warm the bottle correctly, and to the correct temperature, because the milk that is too hot can be harmful and painful for a baby. So let’s learn how to warm a baby bottle.
How to Warm a Baby Bottle
How Warm Should a Baby Bottle Be?
Keep in mind that most babies begin life by feeding on breastmilk, which is the temperature of the mother’s body.
That means that the ideal temperature for a baby bottle is between 98-104˚F. On the skin, this temperature feels barely warm, because it is so close to our natural body temperature.
Generally speaking, a drop of baby milk should be tested against the sensitive skin of your inner wrist or the back of your hand, where it should feel close to skin temperature.
Milk that is too warm may hurt or burn a baby, so if you are going to make a mistake, it’s better to warm the bottle not enough rather than too much.
Do You Have to Warm a Baby Bottle?
Generally speaking, there is no health or nutrition reason to warm a baby bottle. Babies can drink cold milk or formula, and it’s just as healthy and nutritious as warm milk.
Over-warming formula or breast milk can sometimes damage delicate vitamins and nutrients, so it’s better for baby milk to be too cool than too hot.
However, most babies prefer warm milk, and won’t drink it cold. Some babies will only have warm milk as newborns but will adapt to cooler milk as they grow.
It’s worth experimenting and seeing what temperature your baby prefers, since it may save you time in warming baby bottles.
How to Warm a Baby Bottle
Baby bottles should always be warmed gradually to preserve their nutrients. That’s why microwave and stovetop heating methods are usually not recommended – they heat too quickly and may heat too much. Instead, here are the preferred ways to warm a baby bottle.
How to Warm a Baby Bottle on the Countertop
- Place a bowl or container of water in the microwave and heat until it is warm to the touch.
- Place the bowl on the counter, and stir so the water is an even temperature.
- Place the baby bottle in the warm water and allow it to heat gradually.
- Swirl the bottle every few seconds to make sure it warms evenly.
- It may take 3-5 minutes to warm a bottle in this way, but it is simple and prevents over-heating.
How to Warm a Baby Bottle with Warm Tap Water
If you are using expressed milk and storing milk in bags in the refrigerator, simply place the milk bags in a bowl, and place the bowl under warm running tap water.
The walls of milk bags are thin and heat transfers quickly, so this is a fast and simple way to warm expressed breastmilk.
If you are mixing infant formula, and have safe tap water (not well water), you can simply use warm tap water to mix the formula, so it is already warm in the bottle, to begin with.
How to Warm a Baby Bottle with a Bottle Warmer
There are several different countertop appliances designed specifically for warming baby bottles. These devices are easy to use, heat gently to the right temperature, and save you time in the kitchen with every feeding.
Many of the more expensive bottle warmers also have sterilizing functions, so you can save time both warming and sterilizing your baby bottles. These devices all work slightly differently, so it’s important to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Remember that it is always best to use BPA-free baby bottles because BPA can potentially degrade and become harmful when exposed to heat.
Always test the temperature of a bottle before giving it to your baby, to avoid giving them milk that is too hot.
The perfect warm milk should feel almost like nothing because it should be approximately your skin temperature. If you feel any sensation of warmth, then the bottle is too warm.
And it bears repeating that it’s better to give a baby milk that is not warmed enough than to give milk that is overheated.
Warming a baby bottle is fast and simple, particularly when you keep these tips in mind.
Since you are barely warming the milk, it doesn’t take too long, and there are many different methods. If you are short on time, a bottle warmer may be the best choice for your family.