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Are you bottle feeding and hate having to get up at night to warm the bottle? Who doesn’t!
I remember when we were formula feeding our first daughter I used to hate night feeds. By the time I got up, turned the lights on, made and warmed the milk while my daughter was crying because she was hungry, fed her and went back to bed, I was wide awake. It would take me forever to go back to sleep.
Finding a way to keep a pre-made baby bottle warm at night, so that I could just wake up, get the bottle, and feed my daughter (possibly all in the semi-dark) became one of my top objectives! So, I asked other moms around and tested a few different methods. Until I found the one that best suited myself and my daughter.
It was a game-changer. Both my partner and I started sleeping so much better and getting up to feed our daughter was not such a mission anymore. There’s already so much going on when trying to survive the first month with a newborn: we were so happy we got the night feeding sorted at least.
I’d love to share with you all here my best tips on how to keep a baby bottle warm at night, most of which are also included in my bottle and formula feeding tips. I am confident you will find at least one that will work for you and will make your life a little bit easier too 🙂
Does Baby need “Warm” Milk?
First thing first, does baby actually need warm milk? Because if your baby does not need or want warm milk, then you might be in luck already and don’t even have to worry about warming the bottle up.
In fact, according to the CDC (Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention), formula does not need to be warmed before feeding. So, your baby could potentially be happy with just drinking room-temperature or even cold milk. There are lots of parents that do this!
However, there are experts that still recommend you give your baby warm milk, particularly newborns and younger babies. That is because warmed milk is easier for your baby to digest, as they don’t need to use extra energy to warm it up in their tummy. And warm milk is less likely to cause tummy pain.
Further to that, when babies are breastfed, milk is naturally at body temperature, so babies usually prefer milk that’s warmed to body or room temperature when they are feeding from a bottle. Some babies might even refuse the bottle is the formula or milk is not to a temperature of their liking!
We personally were never given a choice: we were told to warm the milk before giving it to our daughter and we never questioned it. Had we known this earlier, we would have probably tried offering formula at room temperature or cold to our daughter to see if she liked it.
Guidelines for Storing Formula or Breastmilk
Another important thing to understand before going through the tips below, is how long can you leave formula or breastmilk out the fridge. In fact, if you could leave your bottle at room temperature until you feed your baby then, again, you might not need to warm (or keep warm) the bottle at all.
So, here’s some guidelines for storing formula and breastmilk.
Expressed / Pumped Breastmilk
- Thawed expressed breastmilk needs to be used within 24 hours of thawing it in the refrigerator.
- Once breastmilk is thawed to room temperature or warmed after being in the refrigerator or freezer, use it within 2 hours.
- Freshly expressed milk can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 hours, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
If you are not sure whether you are storing your baby’s milk properly, especially if you are pumping, I would highly recommend you enroll in one of these breastfeeding courses, including free classes (some are targeted exclusively for pumping moms). The freezing and thawing process in particular needs to be done properly.
- Formula needs to be used within 2 hours from when the bottle was prepared, or
- within one hour from when the feeding begins.
- Formula can be stored in the fridge (or a cooler if you are traveling) for up to 24 hours.
As you can see, because breastmilk can only stay out for up to 4 hours, and formula up to 2 hours, your ability to leave a bottle at room temperature for baby’s feeds at night strongly depends on how often your baby feeds and what time you go to bed. Plus you’ll probably only get to get away with it with the first night feed. But still better than nothing!
Tips on How to keep Baby Bottle Warm at Night
Without further ado, here’s all my best tips on how to keep baby bottles warm at night.
Note that because bottles can’t be left out for too long, as per my comments above, lots of these tips are about keeping just the water warm (not the whole milk bottle), so that when you wake up all you need to do is mix the formula in! Unfortunately these only work with formula and not breastmilk. If you do feed your baby expressed breastmilk, I would highly encourage you to see if your baby likes colder milk too.
1) Water Kettle that keeps Water at the Right Temperature
Can you believe there are kettles that keep the water at a constant temperature?? These are perfect for the water for the bottles: you can leave the kettle on the whole night and, not matter what time baby wakes up, the water will be already ready at the perfect temperature to be mixed with the formula.
The Baby Formula Water Kettle below only takes 30s for the water to reach the desired temperature, so you could even use it during the day to prepare a bottle in record time. It has a capacity of 1.2L and turns off automatically when it runs out of water.
2) Use a Portable Bottle Warmer
A Portable Baby Bottle Warmer is another perfect option to keep the water for the bottle warm at night. Pour in hot water before going to bed and it should be at the perfect temperature when baby wakes up for a feed.
Just make sure to always check the temperature of the water before mixing the formula in. It should feel warm: not too hot nor too cold. Because depending on what time your baby wakes up after you’ve placed the water in the bottle, you might need to add a bit of cold water to cool it down.
3) Use a Travel Thermos / Flask
You actually don’t need to buy a portable bottle warmer specific for baby bottles, unless you plan on using it to warm the bottles when on the go as well. In fact, if you only need something to keep the water warm at night, a simple and standard thermos / flask will do.
Do exactly the same as with a bottle warmer: fill it up with hot water before going to bed and keep it on your bedside table for when baby wakes up for a feed.
4) Use a Heating Pad
This tip on how to keep baby bottle warm at night is quite clever: use a heating pad on the lowest setting and wrap it around the bottle. Just make sure to keep it a little bit open so that it doesn’t get too hot.
The main disadvantage is that, like I mentioned at the beginning, you can’t use it the whole night, as bottles can stay out the fridge for so long. However, it could work quite well if you feed your baby breastmilk instead of formula and/or if the temperature in your house is quite cold – so leaving the bottle at room temperature means the milk will actually not be warm at all.
5) Get a Formula Dispenser Machine
This has got to be my ultimate tip on how to keep a baby bottle warm at night, and I so wish I knew about this one when I had my first daughter ! A Formula Dispenser Machine / Formula Maker is an amazing gadget that will automatically mix and dispense the formula for you at the press of a button.
It allows you to set the formula concentration, temperature and milk volume. Plus, because the water is kept warm (for up to 24h), it will dispense the formula in the bottle immediately – no more waiting for the milk to warm up. How useful and easy is that?!
Other Tips to Make Night Feeding much Easier
While it’s not always possible have your baby bottle warm and ready to feed when your child wakes up at night, there are however lots of tips on how to speed up the process.
Here’s all the quickest ways to make and/or warm a bottle at night.
1) Mix Cold and Hot Water
This is the best hack we came up with for preparing our daughter’s bottle both at night and when no the go. All you need to do is find the perfect balance of hot / boiling and room temperature water, so that by mixing the two with formula we would instantly get milk at the perfect temperature.
We knew exactly what the two quantities to mix were. We would just use the kettle at home or ask for some boiling water at a café and that was it.
The only thing to be aware is that you will have to adjust the quantities as your child grows and starts drinking more milk.
2) Use a Crockpot for Warm Water
You don’t want to spend money for a bottle warmer but you do you have a crock pot? Then just put water in your crockpot before going to bed and leave it on low at night, so that you can warm bottles up quickly during the night.
The actual advantage compared to a bottle warmer is that you can leave it on the whole night, so that the water will be already at the perfect temperature when you need to put the bottle in. With a bottle warmer, instead, you need to wait for it to warm the water up first, plus you cannot leave it on the whole night.
3) Have a Small Cooler in the Room
Another tip is to keep a small cooler with some bottles in the room (either your room or the nursery), so that you don’t have to get up and go all the way to the kitchen to get the bottles. This is actually one of my favorite ways to store formula milk for night feeds.
4) Use a Bottle Warmer with a Cooler
A Bottle Warmer with a Cooler is another great gadget that keeps up to 2 bottles cool at night (for up to 8 hours), without having to keep them in the fridge, and it also includes a warmer. While you will still have to wait for it to warm the bottle, at least you don’t have to walk all the way to the fridge to get one.
5) Use a Formula Dispenser
One of the best tips for formula feeding in general, including at night, is to use a Formula Dispenser. This allows you to pack the exact amount of formula you need for each feed in some nice little compartments.
When the time comes, just open the compartment and mix the formula in the water. No more measuring the formula in the middle of the night.
How to Keep Baby Bottle Warm at Night: Final Thoughts
Here it is mama, all my best tips on how to keep baby bottle warm at night, and how to prepare the bottles as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to keeping your baby’s bottles warm at night. This is due to the nature of both breastmilk and formula and the fact that they can’t last for too long outside the fridge without going bad.
That said, particularly if you are feeding your baby formula, the tips above will allow you to keep the water warm at least, so that all you need to do is add the formula to the mix and the bottle will be ready. If you are pumping and feeding your baby breastmilk, then you have no other choice but to warm the bottle when baby wakes up or try the heating pad (unless your baby is happy with room temperature or cold milk), but I still hope the tips above help you speed up the process!
For more bottle and formula feeding tips, make sure to check out these posts:
- 25 Formula & Bottle Feeding Tips (to Make it Easier!)
- How to Store Formula Milk for Night Feeds (6 Solutions to Fit your Needs!)
For more tips and information on bottle feeding and/or pumping, have a look at these related articles:
- Paced Bottle Feeding (Benefits & Tips to do it Right!)
- Sudden Drop in Milk Supply (Signs, Causes & How to Fix it!)
- 14 Drinks that Increase Milk Supply
- Baby Suddenly Refusing Bottle (Why & 19 Things to Try!)
- 8 Tips for Flying and Traveling with Breast Milk and a Breast Pump
Are you a mom who’s formula feeding and have some questions with regards with the information provided above? Or have you been formula feeding for a while and have more tips that are not listed here? Then please let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
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