Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, at one point, you will probably need to know how to warm a bottle on the go.
You are finally ready to go out with your little one or are traveling to someplace new and have everything prepared, and then you realize you will have to find a way to warm your baby’s bottle. We’ve all been there!
Here are some of the best ways to safely warm your baby’s bottle, whether you are using frozen or room temperature breast milk or baby formula. These tips will work whether you are out at the beach, out shopping, on vacation, or just out for a walk with your baby.
8 Best Ways to Warm Bottles On the Go
Whether you need to know how to warm a bottle of breast milk or formula bottles on the go, these are some of the best tricks for warming bottles when you are out of the house.
One of the easiest ways to warm baby bottles on the go is with a portable bottle warmer. You can warm formula and breast milk in a bottle warmer, and they’re convenient to toss into the diaper bag and take just minutes to warm a bottle.
There are a variety of bottle warmers depending on where you are traveling and what your needs are. Here are a few great options.
The Tommee Tippee baby bottle warmer is one of the most popular portable bottle warmers. It works as a thermos and will fit both the Tommee Tippee bottles and most other bottles as well. It keeps water warm while you travel, so you can quickly warm your baby’s bottle whenever you need it with no extra power source!
With the Philips Avent bottle warmer, you can quickly warm a bottle in as little as 3 minutes! It has a special sensor, so it will always heat up the milk to the same temperature every time. This bottle warmer will also circulate the milk, so it heats up evenly too! You will also find a defrost setting if you want to thaw out frozen breast milk.
The downside to this baby bottle warmer is that it has to be plugged in, so if you are out for a walk, a day at the park, or on the beach, this won’t work for you. However, if you are traveling or on a vacation where you can keep it plugged in, it will be great!
For a more compact bottle warmer, the Munchkin 98° is awesome. This one does need to be plugged in as well, but it is much smaller, making it more convenient when traveling with packed bags.
The Munchkin digital bottle warmer shows you the exact temperature as it hits up the milk and will always stop at 98.6° every time!
2. Run the Bottle Under Hot Tap Water
Another way to warm up your baby’s bottle when you are out of the house is to run the bottle under tap water until it warms up. Just find a nearby bathroom (Nordstrom bathrooms are my personal favorite for on-the-go baby care) and hold the prepared bottle under hot running water.
This was my personal go-to method, and I found it to work well — it just takes a few minutes longer than using a portable bottle warmer. (Just be sure you are using glass baby bottles, not plastic.)
Wait for the tap water to get as hot as it can, and then place either the bottle or frozen breast milk bag inside it.
3. Bring Along Hot Water in a Thermos
Another great way to warm breast milk or formula in public is to bring hot water in a thermos or other insulated water bottle.
There are two methods: using the hot water in your baby formula OR using the thermos as a portable bottle warmer. I’ve seen people do both (and thought it was pretty ingenious!).
Method 1: Before you leave the house, make sure the bottle will fit inside the thermos. Fill your thermos about halfway with super hot water. When your baby is ready to eat, place your frozen breast milk or formula bottle inside the hot water to gently warm up the bottle.
Method 2: Bring warm water in your thermos to use in your baby bottle if you are using formula, but make sure to test the temperature before to ensure it is 98 degrees or lower in temperature.
Another great method for heating breast milk on the go is to get hot water from a shop nearby. Most coffee shops and restaurants will give you hot water, which you can place your bottle inside to slowly warm up the milk.
If you are traveling and forget to bring your thermos or Tommee Tippee bottle warmer, stop by a Starbucks or a restaurant and ask for some hot water. Have you ever been happier to find a Starbucks on every corner? I didn’t think so.
If you’re in a restaurant, you can ask for hot water in a bowl and then just place your baby bottle in the bowl to warm it up. If you’re grabbing hot water from a coffee shop, make sure to get a large cup and do your best to place the bottle inside the cup to warm it.
A baby bottle insulated bag can also work well if you give your child powdered formula when you are out of the house. Prepare the boiled, sterilized water and heat it to the temperature your baby prefers.
Then, place the bottle with warm water in the insulated bag. When your little one becomes hungry, mix up your formula in warm water, and it will instantly be ready to go!
6. Place Bottle Under Baby’s Blanket
Body heat… If you don’t need to sterilize the bottle, another easy trick for warming bottles on the go is simply placing the bottle under the baby’s blanket while in their car seat or stroller. The formula will naturally get warmer from the baby’s body temperature and will be ready to go in a bit!
This method to warm baby bottles works best on liquid formula or right after you mix water with powder formula for babies who like it just a bit warmer than room temperature.
If your newborn is drinking breast milk from the bottle and if you have no other options, bring along a breast pump and use the breast milk directly from that to feed your baby. It will be warm and exactly what they want!
A Haakaa is an effective breast pump that barely requires any effort. You can attach it while you shower and feed your infant the milk you collect or use an alternative breast pump.
Warning: Do NOT Use These Methods to Warm Baby Bottles
There are a few ways to warm baby bottles on the go that are not considered very safe. Here are a few methods you should avoid when warming bottles on the go.
You will never want to use a microwave to heat breast milk or a bottle with formula. The microwave creates hot spots when heating something up, making it unsafe for your baby. The drops you test on your wrist might be cool, but there could be hotter spots randomly throughout the milk that will burn your baby’s mouth.
Microwaves heat up everything, especially liquids, very unevenly and cause many problems. If none of the previous options work, giving your baby cooler milk is probably better than using a microwave.
You won’t know exactly when it hits room temperature, so leaving the bottle to sit out until it reaches room temperature is not exactly safe either. Unless you constantly check the milk with a thermometer, you will never know when it first gets to room temperature, making it likely to feed your baby milk that probably shouldn’t be used.
Heating a baby bottle on the stovetop is very similar to a microwave, as it can heat up the milk unevenly. The stove can also heat the milk too quickly, making it too hot or taking away all the nutrients from breast milk.
You can always heat up water on the stove, remove it from the heat, and place the bottle inside, but you don’t want to heat up the milk directly on the stove.
Warming a bottle on the go doesn’t have to be tricky, and as long as you follow these ways to warm baby bottles on the go, you will stay safe and have a healthy, happy baby! Whether you use a thermos or get a portable bottle warmer, these tips can help you enjoy being outside and in public once again after giving birth without worrying about feeding your newborn.
Bottle Heating Basics
Before I get on to how to warm baby bottles on the go, there are a few basic bottle heating safety worth mentioning.
Glass or Plastic Baby Bottles?
Go with glass baby bottles — ALWAYS.
I don’t recommend warming up plastic baby bottles (or using them AT ALL) because they will leach microplastics into your baby’s milk or formula. This is the exact thing we don’t want.
If you can’t use glass, try stainless steel baby bottles instead. But, I’m a big believer in glass. Go with a glass bottle that has no paint on the outside — just glass!
Does Breast Milk or Formula Have to be Warm?
Technically, breast milk or formula does not have to be warm. However, some babies simply prefer their warm milk and their bottles to be at a certain temperature. You will notice this early on when they reject their bottle because it is too cold.
You will also want to make sure to sterilize the water if you are using formula for your baby’s bottle before you are out and about. Usually, you can do this by boiling the water beforehand. But then, you will still need to know how to warm up the bottle when you are out and about.
You want to ensure you warm the baby bottle for your little one’s safety and their comfort as well.
How Warm Should My Baby’s Milk Be?
Ideally, you will want warm bottles to be around 98° Fahrenheit. Typically this is the temperature that breast milk is straight from the breast.
Before giving your baby their bottle, always drip a few drops onto your wrist to test the temperature. If it feels hot to you, then it will definitely be too hot for your baby. If it feels comfortable, it probably is warm enough for your newborn.
You do not want to burn your baby’s mouth or destroy any of the antibodies in the milk, so make sure it is at a low enough temperature that your baby enjoys, which usually ends up being about 98 degrees or lower.
How Long is a Warmed Bottle Good For?
Once it hits room temperature, whether you have warmed-up breast milk or baby formula, it should be used within 2 hours. If it is past that, make some breast milk lotion or use it in a breast milk bath!
Use Ready-to-Feed Formula
If you’re giving formula on the go, you might consider having ready-to-feed baby formula on hand.
Ready-to-feed formula is pre-mixed and ready to be heated (no formula mixing required). These ready-to-feed formulas will be at room temperature, which might be warm enough for your little one too!
However, if room temperature is still not warm enough for your baby, use the following methods to heat up your baby bottle on the go.
Does warm milk make babies sleep better?
Warming your baby’s bottle doesn’t necessarily help them sleep better, but there are a few indirect benefits that might aid in a better nap or nighttime sleep.
Baby formula dissolves better when you use warmer water. This also makes it a little easier to digest, which can help reduce tummy aches in little ones that can keep them up at night.
Breast milk contains tryptophan, which helps to produce melatonin in the body and can aid in helping your little one go to sleep as well. If you’re nursing or using milk that you pumped at night time, your baby will get your night time milk and all its sleep-inducing benefits.
Is a portable bottle warmer worth it?
If your baby prefers a warm bottle, a portable bottle warmer is worth it! It makes it easy to be outside the house or traveling without worrying about getting hot water or keeping your baby’s bottle warm. Many are so easy to use, and some are even battery-operated!