6 Creative Methods You Can Warm a Baby Bottle Without Using a Bottle Warmer

A bottle warmer has been known as an easy way to warm up a cold or chilled baby bottle – whether it is infant formula or breast milk – that was stored in refrigeration. More importantly, its main purpose was to turn zombie nights for parents into a more simpler process – perhaps when your baby is asking for a bottle NOW.

So what do you do when your baby is crying and you’re trying your best to beat the cries? You find a quick and simple solution to warming the bottle, right? But what if you’re one of the parents who actually wants to save money on a bottle warmer? Do you actually need one? The answer is no, you don’t.

A bottle warmer can help make late night feedings easier but it is also feasible to do without one (and yes, I’ve personally survived without a warmer). 

When I had my daughter, a bottle warmer was something I felt I didn’t need for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to raise my baby on a budget.
  2. If I bought the warmer, it would only be used for a few months.

With a crying baby, it’s understandable that a bottle warmer is something you think would solve the problem. Maybe you’re operating alone at night or you’ve lost hours of sleep and you need something to help you multi-task better. I get it – the warmer feels like THE ONLY solution. 

But what I’ve learned to ask myself is, how long will I use the warmer? A month? Two months? Or more? If I were to use a baby product for a few months only to store it away afterwards, then I consider the product a “want” and not a “need”. Therefore, the bottle warmer was ruled out.

Instead, I’ve learned there were other options to warming a bottle without having to spend the extra money. Let’s explore them!

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1. Set the bottle out on the counter top until it warms to room temperature.

One of the most common ways you can warm a bottle is to simply set it out on the counter top until it warms to room temperature. You can do this before giving your baby his or her nightly bath so that when you’re done with the bath, the breast milk or infant formula is all ready to go.

You can also incorporate this method into your routine by setting a timer or reminder every night (or throughout the day) through your device – smartphone or watch – so that you know when it is time to set the bottle out for warming. 

Tip: This method works best when you are multi-tasking and trying to get other things done while the bottle warms to room temperature. It is also one of the most cost-effective ways that requires NO MONEY to do so, which is a huge plus when you want to raise a baby on a budget. 

2. Hold the bottle under warm, running water.

Another way you can warm a cold bottle is by running it under warm, running water.

That is – if you have a sink or faucet nearby, turn on the water and run your bottle under the water stream. It may take no more than a few minutes until the breast milk or infant formula is ready to drink. Similar to method #1, it requires NO COST.

Tip: This method works best when you have easy access to a sink or faucet. For example, if you have a master bedroom with a bathroom included, then it wouldn’t be a problem during nighttime feedings but if your bedroom is on the opposite end of the bathroom in the house, then it may be more of a hassle than it is helpful.  

3. Place the bottle inside a cup, mug, or bowl filled with lukewarm water.

Another creative method that utilizes water as a bottle-warming method is to place the baby bottle inside a cup, mug, or bowl filled with lukewarm water.

Instead of holding the bottle under running water, fill the cup or bowl with warm water and set the chilled bottle inside. It may take a few minutes until the bottle warms to room temperature. Furthermore, it is also free of cost. 

Tip: This method works great when you’re soothing your baby (read a book or sing a lullaby) or when you’re preparing for bedtime (give baby a bath) while the bottle warms up. Overall, it’s great when you’re multi-tasking 🙂

5. Use HotHands hand warmers (when traveling).

If you plan to travel and have little to no access to water or electricity, HotHands hand warmers is a possible alternative to warming baby bottles. You can find these at your local Walmart (or any other store) for a few bucks for a pack of 3 or more.

These hand warmers work great instantly and can be carried anywhere. It’s portable, instant, and convenient. Whether you’re traveling by air or traveling by car, you can pack some of these hand warmers inside baby’s diaper bag to-go.

Personally, I haven’t used it for warming baby bottles but I’ve used it to warm my hands and they’re amazing! It warms up easily and the heat is great for the winter. I have no doubt that it won’t work for cold baby bottles too!

6. Use your heating pad.

If you already have a heating pad, not only can you use it for pain relief but you can also use it to warm the bottle as well!

All you have to do is turn on the heating pad, wrap it around the bottle for a few minutes, and you’re all good to go.

The one I have (Sunbeam Heating pad) has three heat settings – high, medium, low – and can be super convenient depending on how fast you want the bottle to warm up. My favorite setting is the medium one but if you wish to warm the bottle faster, you can use the high temperature setting.

Tip: This method works best when you ALREADY own a heating pad. If you have a heating pad that is set aside in your closet or stored away and is not in use, you can simply take it out and warm your baby’s bottles.

The best part about using your heating pad is that when you no longer need it for bottle warming, you can go back to using it as instant back pain relief – killing two birds with one stone.

Reminder – Don’t Do This!: Make sure you DO NOT microwave a cold or chilled baby bottle. It is not recommended as it can pose a scalding risk. The microwave does not heat milk evenly and may burn your baby.

How to Test the Milk Temperature

Once you’ve decided on an alternative, you may start wondering how you can tell if the formula or breast milk is ready for feeding.

You want to test a few drops of formula or breast milk on the inside of your wrist first. If you feel that it is too hot, set it aside until it cools down. If it’s too cold, use any of the alternatives above until the milk warms up.

Oh, and one more thing. 

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