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The best bottle warmers, according to experts

In the chaos of caring for a newborn, every parent inevitably encounters the question: do you need a bottle warmer? While not essential, they can make feeding easier, especially for finicky babies, and provide welcome convenience in the sleep-deprived days of caring for a newborn, according to experts we spoke with. 

To help you find the best bottle warmer, we talked to two certified lactation consultants and a board-certified fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics about the best use cases for these baby gadgets and what to know before buying one. 

SKIP AHEAD How we picked the best bottle warmer | The best bottle warmers in 2024 | How to shop for bottle warmers | How to safely heat a bottle 

How we picked the best bottle warmers

“One of the biggest myths out there is that babies don’t like cold milk — babies can definitely have milk straight from the fridge,” says Chandani DeZure, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

You don’t need a bottle warmer, our experts agree, but there are reasons why you might want one. Some babies — especially those under four months — may prefer warm milk to room temperature or cold, or you may want to thaw frozen milk quickly. “If you can find something that works for you and your kid and it makes your life easier, I think it’s totally reasonable to spend money on it,” says DeZure. 

Consider these factors before you buy: 

  • Safety: The most important consideration with any bottle warmer is safety. Experts recommend looking for features like a maximum temperature setting to prevent accidental overheating and burns, and an auto-shutoff feature to eliminate chances of leaving your new appliance on all night. 
  • Simplicity: If you’re going to purchase a bottle warmer, “the goal is simplicity,” says Victoria Facelli, international board-certified lactation consultant and author of “Feed the Baby: An Inclusive Guide to Nursing, Bottle-feeding and Everything in Between.” Bluetooth-enabled, app-connected, high-end warmers aren’t necessary. In fact, simplicity can actually be safer. “Parents are so tired in this phase,” says DeZure. “It’s easy to make little mistakes that you wouldn’t normally make if you weren’t so sleep-deprived.” Experts say manual versus digital display features are a matter of personal preference, but the fewer steps you need to follow to warm a bottle, the better. 
  • Heating method: There are three primary heating methods for bottle warmers on the market. All three have pros and cons. Water bath heaters have a water reservoir that circulates around the bottle. These offer steady, safe warming but can be slow. Steam heat bottle warmers heat faster but have a higher risk of overheating bottles, which in addition to posing a burn risk, can breakdown nutrients in breastmilk. (They’re still safe to use with formula.) Finally, some bottle warmers heat milk via direct contact with a heating element. These are great for portability but require more frequent and rigorous cleaning to prevent bacterial contamination. 
  • Price: Fancier is not necessarily better when it comes to bottle warmers, according to our experts. While you can find bottle warmers that retail for triple digits, budget picks do the job just as well. All of our picks for bottle warmers are under $75. 

The best bottle warmers of 2024

Philips Avent Premium Fast Bottle Warmer

For a simple, straightforward bottle warmer that won’t stress your budget, the Philips Avent Premium Fast Bottle warmer checks all the necessary boxes, says Brandi Jordan, a board-certified lactation consultant, pediatric sleep and newborn care specialist, postpartum doula, founder of pregnancy and postpartum resource center The Cradle Company, and board member of Swehl. “It’s not cost prohibitive and it warms up relatively quickly,” she says. The Avent uses a water bath to heat milk. Once you adjust the manual dial, the product’s smart temperature sensor will register the current temperature of the milk and customize heating time accordingly. There is also a defrost setting that thaws frozen milk. 

Baby Brezza Smart Bottle and Breastmilk Warmer with Bluetooth

The Baby Brezza Smart Bottle and Breastmilk Warmer with Bluetooth has two heating methods for increased versatility: a water bath setting steadily warms or defrosts milk, while a steam heat setting rapidly heats for when you need that bottle ASAP.

For tech-savvy parents it also comes with an app. “I think the app is unnecessary but the digital readout is really nice,” says Facelli. “Personally, if I’m going to use a bottle warmer, I want it to be more precise so I like one with a digital readout instead of one that just has a turning knob.”

Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer

Facelli and Jordan both recommend the Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer, which warms bottles, frozen milk, and baby food via a water bath. “This one has a reservoir, so you don’t have to add the water every time, which is nice,” says Facelli. 

Johnson likes that the slow warming method is very unlikely to cause overheating but says that she wouldn’t pick this for a young baby because it takes a long time — around 12 minutes — to warm a bottle. “It’s really great if you’re unthawing breast milk and don’t want to worry about it getting scalded.” 

Munchkin 98 Degree Digital Bottle Warmer 

The Munchkin 98 Degree Digital Bottle Warmer is the only pick on our list that heats milk through direct contact with a heating element. “The benefit of that version over a water bath version is if you have other kids who you might worry about if there’s a pool of hot water sitting around on a countertop,” says Facelli. 

The Munchkin is one of the more straightforward warmers on the market with one temperature setting that heats bottles to precisely 98.6 degrees fahrenheit. 

Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Warmer and Sterilizer 

Jordan also likes Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Warmer and Sterilizer, which heats bottles via steam. A water reservoir lets you heat multiple bottles before needing to refill. It also doubles as a sanitizer for bottles or small items like pacifiers. The digital readout allows you to designate preferred settings to make sure every bottle is just right, too. 

How to shop for a bottle warmer 

If you opt for the convenience of a bottle warmer, there are several factors to consider: 

Safety features

“The biggest concern with a bottle warmer is that you’ll make a mistake that harms the baby so safety features are at the top of my priority list,” says DeZure. 

Look for features designed to prevent overheating like auto-temperature sensors and auto-shutoff mechanisms. Always test heated milk on the inside of your wrist before giving it to a baby, says Facelli. 

Method of heating

The most common heating method for bottles is a water bath. “You basically fill the bottle warmer with water, heat the water to a certain temperature, and then you put a bottle into that water for a certain amount of time,” says Facelli. This is the safest heating method and most versatile. You can safely use it for thawing frozen milk and heating containers of baby food. The main drawback for this method is that it’s slow. 

Steam heating, on the other hand, works quickly. “If it’s 2:00 a.m. and you have a screaming baby, you don’t want it to take 15 minutes for this milk to warm up,” says Jordan. Steam heat also has drawbacks. Not all models are suitable for breastmilk; steam can get a bottle hotter than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, at which temperature, the nutrients in breastmilk start to break down. Steam heat also carries a slightly higher risk of overheating either the milk or the bottle, says DeZure. 

Bottle warmers that heat milk via direct contact with a heating element also have their pros, says Facelli, though she dislikes the extra cleaning required of these models. If you have a really cranky baby you may not want to have another item to clean, she says. 

Temperature settings

Many bottle warmers are designed to warm room temperature milk and thaw frozen milk, which means they have a range of temperature settings. Always make sure you’re using the appropriate setting to avoid burns. “Mom’s milk would be around 98 degrees so you really don’t need to get hotter than that temperature,” says DeZure. 

“Everything is smart now, so a lot of bottle warmers have apps,” says Facelli. She and Jordan both agree that these aren’t necessary. “If you’re a person who likes tech, it could be fun,” Jordan says, “but in 20 years, I’ve never needed that feature.” 

Size

Newborns often have specific preferences for bottle types so you’ll likely be trying out a few different brands before finding a winner. “If you’ve got a bottle warmer, you want to make sure it can accommodate different types of bottles,” says DeZure. This includes an appliance’s size — the wider the opening the more likely it is that it will fit a variety of containers — and materials. Look for a bottle warmer that has settings for glass, plastic, and silicone bottles.

Ease of cleaning 

“As a parent, you want something that’s easy to clean so that there’s not bacteria and other germs harboring in there,” says DeZure. If you’re considering a bottle warmer with a reservoir for water, make sure it’s easy to access and that you wash it when you refill to prevent the buildup of bacteria. “I would hesitate to use bottle warmers that come into direct contact with the milk unless you’re confident that you can keep it as clean as it needs to be,” says DeZure. 

How to safely heat a bottle

You don’t need a bottle warmer to heat a bottle — though they do offer better safety and convenience. 

There are two expert-recommended methods for heating a bottle without a warmer. Firstly, you can simply run a prepared bottle under warm water for a couple of minutes, says DeZure. 

Alternatively, create your own water bath by filling a small pot or bowl with warm — “not hot, not boiling” — water and placing the bottle inside. “You don’t want to put it in boiling water as the bottle can overheat. Even if the bottle doesn’t feel warm to the touch, it’s very easy to overheat the milk and that would be a big safety concern in terms of causing burns to the baby,” says DeZure. 

For that reason, you should never microwave a bottle as it can cause hot spots that pose a serious safety risk. 

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest. 

  • Dr. Chandani DeZure, M.D., FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician in San Diego and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who specializes in newborn care, neonatal intensive care and acute care. 
  • Brandi Jordan, IBCLC, is an international board-certified lactation consultant, pediatric sleep and newborn specialist, postpartum doula, founder of pregnancy and postpartum resource center The Cradle Company, and board member of Swehl
  • Victoria Facelli, IBCLC, is an international board-certified lactation consultant in North Carolina. 

Why trust NBC Select?

Macaela MacKenzie is a journalist and former Glamour editor who has covered pregnancy and postpartum care for over a decade. For this article, MacKenzie spoke to three newborn care experts — two international board-certified lactation consultants and a board-certified fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics — and drew on her personal experience with bottle warmers as mom to a one-year-old. 

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