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How To Choose the Best Bottle Warmer for Your Baby

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Whether you're exclusively bottle feeding or occasionally heating expressed breastmilk for your baby, a bottle warmer can be a big help. I prefer to mix up a day's worth of formula for my son, which means it takes even longer to heat after being in the fridge, and I also thaw the breastmilk stash in the fridge, so I've really come to appreciate the bottle warmer as I'm standing in my kitchen at 3 a.m. with a very chilly bottle in hand. Gone are the nights when I tried running warm water over the bottle, or setting it in a bowl of water, or trying to time it right in a pot on the stove. There are lots of bottle warmers on the market, though. How do you choose just one?

Does It Fit Your Bottles?

Baby bottles come in all shapes and sizes these days. If you choose a standard, straight, narrow-neck bottle, you can probably choose any bottle warmer and it will work just fine. Add in a few curves, a wide neck, a special anti-colic valve, or a modern shape, though, and you may have to hunt for a warmer that will work. Since your baby might decide on a specialty bottle for you, it's best to look for a bottle warmer that fits a wide range of bottle shapes and sizes, particularly if you're adding this warmer to a baby registry or shopping before baby arrives. He or she might hate the standard bottle you chose. My son sampled five or six types of bottles before finding one he would use consistently.

How Does It Heat?

Some bottle warmers have heating elements that surround the bottle to bring it up to the right temperature. Others use bursts of steam to heat the milk. Also check out the power source. A battery operated warmer might be handy outside of the kitchen, but you'll have to replace the batteries occasionally. If you'll be feeding your baby on the go, you might also consider a bottle warmer with a car charger.

How Fast?

Speed is one of the main advantages of a bottle warmer, so you'll want one that works quickly. In addition to the heating speed, an automatic shut-off is helpful. If the bottle continues to heat after the main heating phase, it could become too hot for your baby. If you're using expressed breastmilk, overheating could ruin it.

Can You Clean It?

Almost any bottle warmer can be wiped off with a damp cloth, but you may need to do more in-depth cleaning sometimes. Any bottle warmer that uses steam will require water, and that could result in mineral build-up. Check to see how accessible the water compartments are. Can you get any residue out of them? What if a bottle leaks in the warming compartment? Remember that a bottle warmer is food preparation equipment, and look for one that meets your standards for food prep cleanliness.

Big or Small?

Bottle warmers are available in many sizes. Some are barely bigger than the bottle, while others may rival your toaster or other kitchen appliances in size. Decide where you'd like to use the warmer before you start shopping. Let the available space guide you.

What Else Can It Do?

It's a bottle warmer, right? What more do we expect? Lots of bottle warmers have extra features that might be useful to you, though. Once your baby is ready for solid foods, some bottle warmers can heat up baby food jars. My bottle warmer came with an extra basket to steam sterilize pacifiers and other small items. Some bottle warmers hold more than one bottle and can keep the bottles cool until you're ready to heat them for mealtime.

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