So you’re a nursing mom and you’re ready for your first adventure out of the house as a family! Now that you’ve packed your car full of everything you could need (are 12 cloth diapers enough for a Target run?), you’re probably wondering how you’re going to warm your baby’s bottle on the go.
Don’t freak out! There are many options when it comes to warming a baby’s bottle while you’re out and about. Let’s go through these methods one by one and then finish off with some things for new moms and dads to keep in mind!
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Before we go into bottle warming methods, we should ask why we even need to warm bottles in the first place. You’ll be happy to know that bottles do not HAVE to be warmed before your baby’s consumption.
But warming a baby’s bottle comes down to a matter of preference. Does your baby prefer warmed breast milk or will they happily chug away, no matter the temperature?
Most babies will prefer their bottled breast milk on the warmer side. When a baby breastfeeds, breast milk is at the mom’s body temperature, which is at a toasty 98.6 degrees. Thus, a baby may only take a bottle if it’s in that temperature range.
But there is a small minority of infants that will take breast milk straight out of the fridge! Before you leave the house for the first time, try offering the bottle at different temperatures. You can try the following with your baby: straight from the fridge, room temperature, and warm. You may be lucky and find that you won’t need to warm bottles on the go. In that case, thank you for reading this far, and lucky you!
How to Warm Bottles on the Go
But most likely, your baby will flat-out refuse any bottle that is not at the perfect temperature. In that case, keep reading below on some tried and true methods on ways to warm your baby’s bottle on the go. If your baby is also formula feeding, these methods work just as well!
Portable bottle warmer
The easiest way to warm a baby’s bottle while you’re out is a portable bottle warmer. They are specifically made for this dilemma! Kind of like the bottle warmers you have at home, but cordless and portable! There are many different ones to choose from, but here are the basics of how they work:
- The Tommee Tippee bottle warmer is like a thermos. You fill it with boiling water and toss the whole thing in your diaper bag. When it’s time for the baby’s bottle, fill the plastic lid with hot water, and drop the bottle in. This bottle warmer is leak-proof and is the perfect thing to add to your baby registry!
- Another portable bottle warmer is the Munchkin Travel Car Baby Bottle Warmer. It’s like an electric blanket, but for your baby’s bottle. The flexible heating band wraps around the bottle to heat the breast milk quickly and evenly. There is a digital timer that displays the temperature and remaining time. There is also the added auto shut off feature. But this portable bottle warmer uses a car’s adapter outlet, so it is not exactly the most portable.
A thermos of hot water
A portable bottle warmer can be too clunky or an added expense. Thus, you can do the same thing as a portable bottle warmer with a thermos you have at home. Yet, you do have to keep a few things in mind.
Can the bottle fit in the thermos? Some bottles are slim enough to drop in the thermos itself. If that's the case, do not overfill the thermos to prevent water from spilling out when you put the bottle in. I’m telling you this from experience - ouch!
But what if your baby's bottles cannot fit in the thermos? In this case, you will have to remember to bring a bowl or mug to place the bottle in while warming. You're getting anxious - I can tell! There's yet another thing to pack and stuff in your diaper bag. But consider a collapsible silicone bowl! These expand only when you need them to save room. Some even have clips so you can clip them to the outside of your diaper bag. I only know of these because we used them for our dog when we went to the park! If you can’t find them in the store, try the pet aisle.
Ask for warm water
Another method for warming up a baby’s bottle is by asking for warm water at a restaurant or coffee shop. You’ll be surprised to hear how often this happens, so they’ll most likely be happy to oblige!
Again, you do not want the warm water to overflow when inserting the baby bottle. Ask the waiter or barista to only fill the bowl or mug halfway.
Use warm water from the tap
If you’re in a pinch, you can always go to a restroom and run your baby’s bottle under warm (not hot) tap water. Since you'll have to do this for a few minutes, it can be a little inconvenient. And the running water is not exactly friendly to the environment. But it’s good to know that you have this option if the other methods are not possible. Such as if you forget a portable bottle warmer or there is no restaurant or coffee shop to ask for hot water.
While you’re holding the bottle under the tap water, be sure to rotate it so that the breast milk is warmed evenly.
Use hand warmers
Another method of warming a baby’s bottle is by using hand warmers. Yes! Those things that people use in the winter to keep their hands warm while skiing or at a football game. This method is great because hand warmers are ultra-portable and don't take much room to pack. Plus, you activate them only when needed. An added bonus is these hand warmers can last up to 18 hours! You’ll get many uses out of them if you need to warm more than one bottle while out!
To use hand warmers, activate a few, and wrap them around the bottle until the breast milk becomes warm.
Sit bottle out at room temperature
Finally, the last option you have to warm your baby's bottle on the go is to leave it to warm to room temperature. Yet, current guidelines recommend that breast milk must be used within two hours once it is at room temperature.
Because of these recommendations, this method may not be the most ideal. You won't be able to determine exactly how long it will take for the breast milk to be at room temperature. Especially if your diaper bag is in various temperatures, such as in the car, outside, the store, et cetera. Once the bottle does get to room temperature, you only have a 2-hour window after that for baby to eat. What happens if baby is not hungry at that time? Or you have multiple bottles?
What to do after warming baby’s bottle
Now that you used one of the above methods to warm your baby's bottle, what do you do? You'll want to make sure it is warmed enough and evenly. Gently swirl the bottle to distribute the temperature as well as mix the separated fat. Then squeeze a few drops on your inner wrist to test the temperature. Our goal is to warm the breast milk to body temperature. Thus, the drops should feel neutral against your skin. Not too cold and not too hot.
If the breast milk is still cold, continue warming the bottle. If it’s too warm, let it sit until it’s cool enough.
If anything, err on the side of under warming the baby’s bottle. This is to prevent destroying those precious nutrients and harming your baby.
Methods to avoid when warming baby’s bottle
As above, there are many options for you to warm up your baby’s bottle when you’re on the go. However, there is one method you should avoid EVEN if it’s the last option - using a microwave.
Using a microwave to heat a bottle presents many dangers as it can cause “hot spots”. Liquids are not warmed evenly in a microwave. The breast milk may seem fine on your wrist when testing the temperature. But "hot spots" can burn a baby's delicate mouth.
How long is a warmed bottle good for?
Once you warm the breast milk to a nice 98.6 degrees and your baby drank it happily, what happens to the leftover milk? Again, once breast milk is thawed to room temperature or warmed, it must be used within two hours. After two hours, it is recommended to discard anything leftover. If you prefer, use this expired breast milk for a milk bath or make breast milk lotion!
Thus, if you plan on being out for a long time through many feedings, pack more than one baby bottle. You should also think about how you'll warm these extra bottles as well.
Our family has tried the majority of these six methods to warm bottles on the go. Our favorite is using portable bottle warmers. They were more convenient and easy to use for warming bottles.
After reading how to warm baby's bottle on the go, you are now ready to conquer your first outing as a brand new family! Again, try offering your breast milk at different temperatures first. This is to see if your little one truly has a preference for it being warm. And if they do, you now have six methods to choose from to warm it up while out and about. Which methods have you tried and which is your favorite? I would love to hear from you!