As the name suggests, bottle warmers warm up bottles: bottles of milk or baby formula, and in some cases baby food too.
Do you actually need a bottle warmer? The official UK government advice is that you don’t need one if you’re making up formula, because that isn’t sterile: you’re supposed to make that fresh with very hot water for each feed. But for ready-made formula cartons or expressed milk that you’ve kept in the fridge, a bottle warmer can take the chill off and may make baby happier. We say “may” because not all babies need their bottles to be warmed, so it’s worth trying unwarmed first to see if you can get away with it.
There are several kinds of baby bottle warmer. There are Thermos-style flasks that you can put the bottle into; car models that plug into the cigarette lighter socket; portable warmers designed for when you’re out and about; and traditional bottle warmers where you stick the bottle, pour water and press the power button.
Some warmers are faster than others, though: for example, in-car ones take forever to warm up so it’s important to plan ahead.
1. Tommee Tippee Electric Bottle and Food Warmer
It’s cheap. It’s cheerful. It sells by the truckload
Heating time: 4 mins | Size: 12.5 x 13.5 x 16 cm | Weight: 558g | Power source: Mains | Dishwasher safe: No | Portable: No
Tommee Tippee is the big daddy of baby products in the UK, possibly because its Closer To Nature bottles dominate the shelves of your local supermarket. Its bottle and food warmer is designed to heat those very bottles as well as glass jars or pouches of baby food, and it warms a bottle in just four minutes (based on 150ml from room temperature; if it’s been in the fridge it’ll need longer). You don’t have to use TT bottles if you don’t want to, but if you do this one’s a safe bet: TT’s own bottles tend to be wider than most, so generic bottle warmers might not be roomy enough. Just don’t forget to switch it off when you’re finished.
2. Tommee Tippee Travel Food Warmer
It’s a flask with a thing to put your bottle in
Heating time: 4 mins | Size: 10 x 10 x 19.5 cm | Weight: 503g | Power source: n/a | Dishwasher safe: No | Portable: Yes
Let’s be honest: this one’s a flask with a separate container to put the bottle in. You pour boiling water into the flask bit before you head out, and when it’s time for a feed you pour the water into the container alongside your bottle and let it warm the milk. If you’re thinking that it’s no difference from finding a kettle and a bowl to pour the water into you’re right, but the important bit here is convenience: if you have your own warmer then you know it’s there when you need it, so you don’t need to beg shopkeepers, waiting staff or random strangers for access to a kettle or microwave. That alone’s probably worth 10 bob.
3. Philips AVENT Fast Bottle Warmer
Faster than most, but a little pricey too
Heating time: 3 mins | Size: 14.9 x 16 x 14 cm | Weight: 567g | Power source: mains | Dishwasher safe: No | Portable: No
Some babies are impatient, and the thought of waiting four minutes for a warm bottle is too much for them to bear. Hurrah for Philips, then, because its AVENT bottle warmer takes just three minutes. The milk circulates as it’s being warmed to ensure there aren’t any hot spots - something microwave warming is infamous for - and it’s a good option for defrosting frozen milk too, with a dedicated defrost setting on the temperature selector. There’s no timer - you need to check the temperature yourself to see if the milk is ready, which seems an odd omission from a relatively expensive warmer - but once you’ve worked out the ideal time it’s a typically consistent Philips product, if a little pricier than rivals.
4. Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine
Fuss-free formula feeding in just two minutes
Heating time: 2 mins | Size: 23.4 x 33.5 x 31 cm | Weight: 2.1kg | Power source: mains | Dishwasher safe: No | Portable: No
It looks like it belongs in Darth Vader’s kitchen but the Perfect Prep machine is your pal for making up formula: it’s essentially a coffee machine redesigned to make milk instead of macchiato. It works with any powdered formula milk, uses a shot of extremely hot water to kill bacteria and makes up a fresh bottle at the correct temperature in just under two minutes. Like coffee machines there’s a bit of faff involved - to keep it bacteria free you’ll need to replace the antibacterial filters fairly regularly - but it’s a brilliant alternative to bleary-eyed milk measuring in the wee small hours, and while it’s a little pricey every minute matters to sleep-deprived mums and dads.
5. Diono Warm and Go
The bottle warmer you need to treat like a baby
Heating time: 15 mins | Size: 7.6 x 68.6 x 11.4 cm | Weight: 68g | Power source: car lighter socket | Dishwasher safe: No | Portable: yes
In-car bottle warmers are the poor relations of household ones: even the most powerful ones need about 15 minutes to do the job, and they tend to be extremely flimsy: the reviews of lighter socket-powered devices suggest that longevity isn’t something you can expect from any model. Diono’s is one of the more powerful models among the cheapies, and if you don’t chuck it around too much you shouldn’t regret spending just over a tenner on it. Just remember to unplug it once you’ve finished: there’s no automatic shutoff when the bottle reaches the required temperature. Alternatively, you could use a Thermos-style flask bottle warmer and pull over to warm the bottle up instead.