Well, even in a world that that values speed and efficiency, the shortest warming time is certainly NOT the most important criteria when it comes to selecting the best bottle warmer for breastmilk.
After evaluating the bottle warmers available on the market, here’s our list of the best bottle warmers for breast milk:
#1 – Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer – Overall Best Bottle Warmer for Breast Milk
#2 – Tommee Tippee 3 in 1 Advanced Bottle & Pouch Warmer – Best for Easy-to-Use Interface
#3 – Dr Brown’s MilkSPA Breast Milk and Bottle Warmer – Best Digital Breast Milk Warmer
Breast milk contains so much precious nutrients that is often referred to as “liquid gold”. However, they are easily destroyed at high temperatures.
A good breast milk bottle warmer is therefore supposed to help you warm and prep a bottle QUICKLY and SAFELY so that you can feed your crying baby asap. Yet at the same time, preserving the valuable natural nutrients.
Some people may think it’s silly to buy a bottle warmer. Honestly, warming a baby bottle is a relatively low tech job. You may well be able to do it with a traditional warm water bath.
A baby milk warmer may not be a necessity for all families, BUT it can certainly help pumping moms save time and effort in the preparation of bottled breast milk for feedings. This is especially true for the night-time feedings.
If you are undecided as to whether a bottle warmer is necessary for your family, do read on for our Baby Bottle Warmer Buying Guide and FAQs. Alternatively, you can jump straight to our bottle warmer reviews!
#1: Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer – Overall Best Bottle Warmer for Breast Milk
The design focus of Kiinde Kozii is NOT on speed, but rather health and safety.
Following the CDC and USDA guidelines for warming breast milk, the Kiinde bottle warmer relies on its patent-pending safe heating technology to create a low-temperature gently swirling warm water bath. This eliminates the risk of hotspots and keeps the nutrients in the breast milk unharmed.
The maximum temperature of the water bath is approximately that of the hot tap water. This is not dangerously hot if you accidentally get into contact with the water, making it safe even if you have a curious toddler at home who might reach the counter-top.
The Kiinde warmer is really easy to use. You can single-handedly operate it in the middle of the night.
The water chamber is spacious enough to accommodate any bottles, breast milk storage pouches, food pouches and even food jars. Yes, even the fat COMOTOMO bottles.
Along with the timer dial where you can set the warming time, it gives you great versatility in warming milk and baby food purees.There’s a ticking sound when the heating cycle is on. My only complaint is that I wished there could be an audible alarm at the end.
Features That We Like
Multi-Function Universal Bottle Warmer
The gentle heating and spacious water bath chamber means that you can use it to warm up almost anything!
It can accommodate any types of baby bottles (whether they are glass, plastic, wide or narrow bottles), thaw storage bags of freeze breast milk and even heat up baby food purees stored in glass food jars or food pouches.
Easy to Use
Makes use of an integrated heating chamber and reservoir.
Simply pour approximately 2 cups of water into the heating chamber. Allow a few seconds for the water to flow through into the reservoir chamber. The warmer is full when the water level reaches the “FULL” line.
You can fill the device ahead of time. When it’s time to heat up the milk bottle, simply drop the bottle into the heating chamber and turn the timer dial. This is truly a single-handed operation. And you are free to walk away.
I like that you don’t have to be very exact in the amount of water to add. There is also no need to refill the water after each session because the water is reused after each heating cycle.
When the heating cycle starts, water will rise from the reservoir up into the heating chamber.
I like that the timer function is in minutes, so it is really intuitive and flexible to use. It’s also really easy to know how much heating time is left by just looking at the timer dial.
The manufacturer has even included a table with warming timings depending on the type of bottle, pouches or food jar you are using, the volume of the fluid, and whether the bottle is at room temperature, just out of the fridge or frozen.
These guidelines provide a great starting pointing. So it really helps to eliminate a lot of guesswork and anxiety for new parents. But it is always recommended that you test the temperature before feeding your little one. After a few tries, you’d be able to determine the best warming times.
Automatic Timer with Auto Shut-Off Function
Turns itself off automatically. There is a ticking sound while the heating is on, which stops when the heating cycle is completed. I would prefer
but it would be good to have a louder alarm at the end of the cycle.
When the timer is up, water is automatically drained from the warming chamber back into the reservoir. So even if you forgot about the bottle, the bottle does not continue to sit in the warm water bath hence avoid overheating.
No Need to Refill Each Time
The water reservoir is relatively large so you do not have to refill it after each warming cycle.
As warm water evaporates naturally, you will have to top up the water after 5-10 cycles to the “Full” mark.
Safe for Kids
If you have toddlers at home and are worried about them reaching the counter-top, the Kindle Kozii makes a very safe option as the warm water bath is not heated to a dangerous temperatures.
Water in the heating chamber is same temperature of the hot tap water.
Easy to Clean
The day-to day maintenance is really simple.
Every 2 to 3 days, you will need to pour out the water from the reservoir via the overflow drain hole at the top of the heating chamber. Pour a cup of mild soapy water into the warmer and allows it to drain into the reservoir. Swirl the unit around before pouring the solution out from the overflow hole. Finally repeat the steps by rinsing with fresh water. You may need to repeat a few rounds until the water is no long soapy.
Some parents complain that the Kozii bottle warmer stop working after a couple months. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean and descale regularly!
De-scaling should be done at least every 2 months by using either mixing ¼ cup vinegar with 1 cup cold water or using a 1:50 bleach/water solution. Without this descaling maintenance, scales will build up on the heating elements, resulting in longer heating times or malfunction.
Not Bulky on the Counter-Top
The warmer is rather compact and takes up a small space on the counter-top.
The Kiinde Kozii do not have an end of cycle alarm or beep sound to alert you that the heating cycle is complete. Instead, there’s a ticking sound when the heating is on which will stop 30 seconds before completion. It is also very intuitive to know how much heating time is left by looking at the timer dial.
To thaw frozen breast milk, you will need to manually turn the dial to run for 2 cycles one after the other.
Another point to note is that the Kiinde bottle warmer, like many others, are timer-based not thermostatically-controlled. This means that if you set the timer to the maximum setting for a milk bottle at room temperature, the milk bottle can get heated up to around 120 F, which is above the temperature where breast milk degradation happens. It is therefore important that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the warming timings.
Dimensions: 8” x 8” x 6”
#2: Tommee Tippee 3 in 1 Advanced Bottle & Pouch Warmer – Best for Easy-to-Use Interface
The Tommee Tippee Bottle Warmer is a great breast milk bottle warmer for you if you want to totally eliminate any guesswork. Unlike Kozii, you don’t even have to check or remember the guidelines on warming times.
The interface is super easy to navigate. There are only 3 buttons along with intuitive and self-explanatory icons for you to select the correct program.
Simply select the starting temperature (room temperature, fridge or frozen), material of the container (plastic bottle, glass bottle or pouch) and the volume. Press on the “Start” button and the heating settings will be automatically determined.
When the warming cycle is completed, the warmer will be automatically shut-off and you will be notified by an end of cycle beeping alarm.
You do not have to worry about overheating as the Tommee Tippee warmer makes use of a water bath with a shut-off temperature that is safe enough to preserve the nutrients of the breast milk The large heating chamber also makes it a versatile warmer that can accommodate bottle of various brands, sizes and materials, as well as breast milk pouches and food jars.
I have to say that it is the PERFECT warmer if you are also using Tommee Tippee bottles and pouches. The only caveat is that there is no timer to fine-tune the automatic settings. So if you are using bottles of other brands that are thicker, you may find that the milk may be heated to a cooler than ideal temperature.
Features That We Like
Straightforward to Use
The buttons and icons for the program selection are self-explanatory. It is great for people who feel insecure or do not like having to figure out how many minutes of heating is required.
Based on the temperature, volume and bottle material selections, the automatic timer will work out the optimum warming time for you.
Automatic Shut-off and End-of-Cycle Beeping
The warmer has an automatic shut-off function when the heating cycle is completed, hence reducing the risk of overheating. You will also be notified by the beeping sound.
Comes with a Cradle to Keep Your Hands Dry
The Tommee Tippee bottle warmer also comes with a cradle for you to place the bottle or milk pouch, so that you can easily submerge and lift it up without your hand getting into contact with the hot water bath.
Easy to Refill
The warmer is easy to refill. There is just 1 heating chamber, without a separate water reservoir.
After placing the storage pouch, food jar or milk bottle into the cradle, simply pour 9 oz of the water directly into the heating chamber.
The manufacturer’s recommendation of a consistent water bath of 9 oz irrespective of the bottle or pouch capacity is to ensure consistent warming.
Relatively Simple Descaling Maintenance
Like it all not, all water bath bottle warmers will require you to descale the unit regular. It’s recommended by the manufacturer to descale the unit every 4 weeks using 250ml white vinegar.
Unable to Tell and Control the Time
As the timer is internal, there is no way to tell how much heating time is left, until you are notified by the beeping sound.
While the programmed heating settings is really convenient, the downside is that you are unable to have full autonomy of the heating times.
The warmer heats up Tommee Tippee bottles and pouches PERFECTLY.
However, some parents have found that bottles of other brands may be heated to a cooler temperature as the Tommee Tippee bottles tend to be thinner compared to others. For example, the Comotomo bottles are made of thicker silicone material but there isn’t a timer that you can fine tune the settings.
Water Does not Drain Out
The Tommee Tippee bottle warmer does not have a separate reservoir for the water to drain out, unlike Kozzi. Therefore, if you forgot to remove the bottle after the beeping sound, the milk bottle will continue to sit in the warm water.
Do I Really Need to Refill the Water Each Time?
Technically, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you are supposed to let the unit cool and dump the water after each use. Refill with 9 oz of water each time to ensure heating consistency.
However, it’s pretty annoying to do so and you are unlikely to see that much evaporation happening. It should work just fine if you just dump the water and refill it once a day.
No Memory Function
How much lazier can I get?
Yes, I do like the simple interface. But after repeated pressing of the 3 selection buttons to get to the same program settings most of the time, I start to wish that there’s a memory function for the most commonly used or the last used program.
#3: Dr Brown’s MilkSPA Bottle Warmer – Best Digital Breast Milk Warmer
Similar to Tommee Tippee bottle warmer, the Dr Brown MilkSPA breast milk and bottle warmer has pre-programmed settings based on your selection of starting temperature, volume and type of bottles or pouches.
On top of that, Dr Brown has also addressed some of the issues that we raised for Tommee Tippee warmer in terms of the pre-programmed settings.
This Dr Brown’s bottle warmer allows you to manually adjust the timer settings if you need to customize the timing. This may seem a little complicated for some people at the beginning. The GOOD news is that it remembers your last used settings, so you are just 2 buttons away from warming your baby bottle!
The water bath warmer also features auto-shut off function and the end of cycle beep. There is a digital timer that you can easily read off to know how much heating is left.
You don’t have to refill the Dr Brown’s MilkSPA bottle warmer each time. However, there are a few EXTRA steps to be taken when changing the water, as compared to the Tommee Tippee and kindle kozii bottle warmer.
Features We Like
The spacious heating chamber also makes it versatile enough to accommodate narrow and wide baby bottles, food jars and breast milk storage pouches.
You can even remove the top basket to accommodate the Comotomo bottles.
12 Pre-Programmed Heating Settings
There are 12 pre-set heating programs based on your selection of starting temperature condition, bottle type and volume.
Press the “Vessel Type/Volume” button to toggle between the options of Glass Bottle, Plastic Bottle and Milk Pouches. The volume is then by using the UP and DOWN button to adjust. Next, press the ”Starting Temperature” button to toggle between room temperature, refrigerated or frozen. Finally, press on the “Start Cycle” button.
Note that there are no pre-programmed settings for frozen milk in glass bottle because you are not supposed to freeze the glass bottles!
Manual Adjustment to Timer
The pre-programmed warming times are based on Dr Brown’s bottles. Hence if you are using other baby bottles, you might need to manually adjust the timing to have the milk warmed to your ideal temperature.
I like it that you can customize and make manual adjustments to the heating times as that gives you added flexibility.
To increase or decrease the timer setting, you can easily do so by pressing the UP or DOWN arrow button at the Temperature mode.
Very often, you are using the same heating settings and it can take a number of button pressings to reach your desired heating program. After some time, it can get tiresome.
It is really helpful that that the warmer remembers your last used setting as you will be only 2 buttons away from a warmed bottle. All you need is to press any button to start the unit, followed by the “Start Cycle” button. Simple.
Digital Timer Display
The digital timer will count down until the end of the heating cycle. A quick glance at it and you will know just how much more time is needed. It also lights up for the late night feedings.
As with the other 2 bottle warmers, the Dr Brown’s milk warmer also has an auto shut-off function to avoid overheating of the breast milk.
No Need to Refill Each Time
Water is added to the warmer base up to the fill line, which is easily visible. You only have to fill the water reservoir once and the same water gets reused. But you may want to rinse it and change the water every now and then.
Easy to Clean
The unit is easy to clean as there are not many nooks and crannies.
If the water gets contaminated by milk or dirtied by other external materials, you might want to hand wash the warmer base and/or the warming chamber with mild detergent and rinse with water. Descaling maintenance will be required if you notice build-ups on the heating element surface.
If you are new to Dr Brown’s anti colic bottles, feel free to check out our review here.
More Steps to Set Up, Clean or Change Water
Compared to Tommee Tippee and Kozii bottle warmer, there are more steps to refiling the water or cleaning the unit as it consists of 3 parts– the top gray basket, the warming chamber and the warmer base.
You will need to give the top warmer chamber a twist in order to lift and remove the warming chamber in order for you to dump the water from the base or to even check the water level.
Note: Many parents often complain of a “H20 error”. This means that water level is low. To troubleshoot, you will need to unplug the unit from the power source and fill the unit to the correct water level.
Recommended to Use Distilled Water
The manufacturer recommends the use distilled water for best performance. That sounds pretty costly to me, unless you already own a water distiller unit at home.
I suppose you can still use the tap water. But as the manufacturer puts it, using the tap water will shorten the lifespan of the unit. And as we know, it will also require more regular descaling maintenance.
Trial and Error Need for Manual Adjustment
The manual has a table of the preset warming times for 12 combinations of bottle type, volume and starting temperature condition. This serves as a helpful starting point if you need to manually adjust the timer to customize to your needs.
For example if you have a 6oz glass bottle, you can read off the preset timings for 5oz and 8oz glass bottles and estimate the heating time required.
A few trial and errors may be needed before you can determine the exact heating time to get the milk to your desired temperature.
The instructions, diagram and tables in the manual may look overwhelming and complicated at first. But it quickly makes sense when you look at the control buttons on the unit itself.
Is It Necessary to Warm Breast Milk?
There is no danger in feeding your baby cold milk, if your baby have no preference.
However, babies who breastfeed directly from moms would be used to lukewarm or body temperature milk. So, if you are transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, warming the expressed breast milk may help your baby get accustomed.
Warm food also tends to be easier to digest. Hence warming the expressed breast milk can help your baby in his digestion.
How to Warm Breast Milk?
We may have been used to heating our food directly on the stove or using the microwave, but these are a NO-NO for warming breast milk, or even formula milk!
Microwave or stove-heating milk can cause unevenly heating in the liquid, creating hot spots in the milk which may scald your baby.
Even if a bottle feels lukewarm on the outside, there may still be scorching hotspots within the milk. The high temperature will also destroy some of the nutritional and immune-boosting qualities in the breast milk.
Breast milk is precious. It contains beneficial disease-fighting factors and the necessary nutrients needed for a baby’s growth and development through the different stages. Hence it is really important to warm the breast milk safely to ensure that all the natural nutrients are preserved.
The ideal temperature of the warmed breast milk is body temperature, or 98.6F, which is LUKEWARM not hot. It is best not to heat above a temperature of 104F and significant degradation of the nutrients and enzymes in the breast milk occurs beyond 113F.
There are a few methods for warming breast milk:
1. Hot Water Bath
The trouble of a traditional hot water bath is that it does take up some time, especially in the middle of the night. You have to first wait for the water to heat up before transferring it to a bowl and manually hold and swirl the baby bottle while it warms up.
You also need to be careful of using boiling hot water straight out of the kettle as you may heat the bottle up too much and you need to cool the bottle again to make it safe to feed your baby. Boiling hot water can destroy the nutrients too.
Another problem is the lack of consistency because you may be starting with water baths of different temperatures each time. The warming time required to reach the desired temperature is therefore not always the same. Such guesswork can be stressful for new parents.
Here are 2 simple tricks I picked up from some experienced mommies to shave off a couple of precious minutes:
- Prepare the hot water in advance and keep it handy in a thermos flask.
- Keep a crockpot warmer filled with water. You can simply place the bottles into the crockpot of warm water when needed. I liked this method better as you don’t even have to fumble with the thermos flask to pour the hot water out! There are many small crockpots available that will not take up too much space on the counter-top, and can be used long after you baby’s bottle-feeding days.
2. Running Hot Water
The cons of using running hot water is that you’ll need both hands to do so. And probably a greater amount of water wasted.
3. Bottle Warmer
A bottle warmer that makes use of a warm water bath is preferred over a steam warmer as the lower heating temperature helps preserve the goodness of the breast milk.
Do I Need a Bottle Warmer?
Some people may think it’s silly to buy a bottle warmer.
But it can be a distressing and panicky situation for some new moms or dads when they trying to heat the milk in a warm water bath with the baby crying in the background. It may be a couple of minutes, but sure feels LONG…
Having an automatic bottle warmer can help take your hands and mind off, so that you can focus on comforting your baby or even change the diaper.
If you are pumping breast milk, you will probably find it helpful to have a bottle warmer.
Similarly, working moms who would like to ensure CONSISTENCY in the expressed milk that your caregivers are feeding to your baby can benefit from a milk warmer.
However, if you are feeding your baby exclusively formula milk you might not see a bottle warmer as a necessity.
Some milk warmers are designed not just to accommodate milk bottles. You can even use them to effectively warm up frozen breast milk in milk bags and frozen or refrigerated baby food in food jars.
Buying Guide: What Are the Features Of a Good Breast Milk Bottle Warmer?
Easy to Operate
A bottle warmer should be simple to operate. It doesn’t have to be a fanciful gadget with many buttons that require you to be really tech savvy just to operate it, making a low tech job more complicated than it is.
The idea is to automate and simplify the manual and time-consuming process of a traditional water bath, so that you can instead use the time to comfort the crying baby or change the diaper.
Some bottle warmers have a lot more stringent requirements than others. For example, they may require you to use only water of certain temperature range or to fill a specific volume of water each time in order to function properly. This can be really frustrating and bothersome to operate in the middle of the night.
Timer and Auto-Shut off Function
A bottle warmer with timer and automatic shut-off function is the most important and fundamental feature.
Overheating breast milk can ruin it completely.
It is not uncommon for busy moms to forget how long they’ve left the bottle in the warmer. Or in some cases, distracted moms may even forget that they have left the warmer on.
That’s why you should choose a bottle warmer with a timer and one that automatically shuts off when the time is up. This helps to reduce the risk of overheating in the event that you are unable to remove the bottle immediately when timer is up.
End of Cycle Alarm
It’s sometimes helpful to have an audible alarm or beeping sound at the end of the heating cycle alarm to notify you that the bottle is ready especially if you have walked away and forgot about it. However, a loud alarm can also be annoying in the wee hours. Unfortunately, most warmers either don’t have such a feature, or they have the alarm but no flexibility of adjusting the volume.
Water Bath vs Steam Bottle Warmers
Bottle warmers generally make use of either a hot water bath or steam to heat up the bottles.
We would recommend the use of a water bath type of bottle warmer to warm breast milk as it tends to heat up to a lower temperature. A hot water bath heats more gently and evenly, but it takes a longer time.
Steam bottle warmers tends to be faster but there’s the danger of overheating and nutrients degradation as the temperature of the steam is higher.
Nutrients aside, when using steam bottle warmers, there are more safety issues to look out for. When selecting steam bottle warmers, do check that there are safety features in place to cool down the bottle sufficiently.
The last thing you want is to scald your baby tongue due to hotspots in the milk, your scald you or your baby’s hand because the bottle is still too hot to hold.
Easy to Clean
In the long run, it’s always helpful to get a gadget that’s easy to clean and maintain so that it doesn’t feel like a pain.
Steam bottle warmers usually consist of more pipes so there could be more scrubbing involved.
For water bath, look out for water chambers that are big and easy to clean. Unfortunately, it is almost unavoidable that you have to regularly de-scale the warmers no matter which brand you choose.
Safe to Operate
Safety is also a key consideration as you are often dealing with hot water. Moreover, you might be carrying your baby in one arm while preparing the bottle.
Bottle and Food Warmer
Some bottle warmers are more versatile in their ability to accommodate different bottle shapes, sizes and materials than others. This is especially important if you are looking for a bottle warmer for Comotomo bottles. They are wider than most baby bottles, so not all bottle warmers can accommodate them.
Some warmers can also be used to heat frozen breast milk bags or even food jars so that you can continue using them to warm baby food purees after the bottle-feeding days. Such warmers may come with a removal tray or basket so that you can safety lift the pouches out of the warmer, but they may require additional cleaning efforts.
Our TOP 3 baby bottle warmers for breast milk allows you to have the flexibility of warming plastic and glass milk bottles of various sizes, food jars, storages bags and even thaw frozen breast milk from storage pouches.
Yes they are much slower compared to many steam bottle warmers. However, our KEY consideration is to preserve the goodness in the breast milk. Hence we only recommend gentle low-temperature water bath warmers to avoid the risk of overheating.
A good baby bottle warmer with timer and auto shut-off function is really helpful for parents to ensure consistency in the warmed breast milk that they are feeding to their LOs and allow them to multi-task while prepping the bottle. For pumping moms who are working and relying on caregivers to take care of their baby, this can provide a peace of mind. It can also help new dads who are helping out with the night time feedings to eliminate any guesswork!
The kiinde bottle warmer is a basic warmer with a timer dial that is really intuitive and easy to use. The guidelines provide by the manufacturer is a good starting point but there’s some initial guesswork needed to determine the heating time.
Tommee Tippee bottle warmer has the easiest to use interface. No guesswork is needed as the heating program is automatically determined based on your selections. It is the perfect addition if you are using Tommee Tippee bottles and pouches. However, you do not have the ability to manually adjust the timer settings.
Dr Brown’s MilkSPA breast milk warmer has the most whistles and bells with its digital interface, pre-programmed modes and memory function. You can customize the timer settings, but some initial trial and error is still needed to determine the manual adjustment. It may seem a tad more complicated to use in the beginning. There are also a few extra steps to take apart the unit to clean or change water as it consists of 3 parts.