A bottle warmer is one of those things that you may not need, but they are something that can make your life a little easier when it comes to meal time. It’s one of those things that some people refuse to use, while others wouldn’t live without it. For the individual, it is a personal preference that you won’t know about until after you’ve had your little one.
In this guide, we are going to talk all about how important baby’s nutrition is in the first few months, what exactly is a bottle warmer and so much more.
Grab a snack and a drink because there is a lot of information coming at you!
Baby’s Nutrition For The First Year
For the first year of your baby’s life, they are going to triple their birth weight, but they will also grow to be 50% longer from the time of birth. That’s a lot of growing in 12 short months! These little bean sprouts are going to need proper nutrition to fuel their incredible growth.
Since the baby’s tummy is so small, they won’t be eating a lot at once, and they will need their meals spread out over the course of the day. They will also need food that is full of good nutrients.
Newborn To 4 Months Old
For the first four months of your baby’s life, they are going to rely on breast milk or formula as their source of nutrition.
During this time, you should feed your baby whenever they are hungry, but also feed them until they refuse to eat more. There are some babies who need to eat every two hours, while others can go longer in between feedings.
Most people will prefer to feed their little one this way for the first few weeks, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you wake your baby every 3 to 4 hours to eat, if they aren’t doing it on their own.
By waking your baby up to eat, you are teaching your baby to trust you and it promotes a healthy foundation for growth with a loving and supportive environment. With that said, we still recommend that you talk with your pediatrician for their recommendation on how frequently you should feed your baby.
Typically, on an average day, a newborn will consume between 16 to 32 ounces of formula or breast milk. Fortunately, during this time, you don’t have to worry about what kind of nutrition your baby is getting because the breast milk and/or formula have all the nutrition your baby will need.
4 To 6 Months Old
This is the time where babies begin to put everything into their mouths! They are going to be communicate better and this is important because you’ll want to start introducing solids into their diet.
When you are feeding your baby, look for signs of hunger or willingness to eat, which is usually indicated by opening their mouth and leaning in toward the spoon full of food. They should also show they are full by pulling away or keeping their mouth closed.
During these couple of months, you can start introducing solids into their diet. Keep in mind, the formula will still be the main source of their nutrition. You will want to give them iron fortified cereals like whole grain oatmeal or a rice cereal. The iron is going to secure their iron stores which begins to deplete by the fourth month and they are drinking less formula and milk.
You will also want to begin introducing fruit puree that have been fortified with Vitamin C. You will also want to introduce dark green and/or orange colored baby food like squash and carrots because they are rich with Vitamin A and C.
7 To 9 Months Old
At this point, baby is going to begin chewing and you’ll see their jaws moving up and down, rather than in a sucking motion. They will begin to grasp and things and they will show interest in feeding themselves.
During this time, you can offer them soft foods like peeled soft fruits, cooked vegetables, small pieces of cheese, chopped up noodles, and dry cereals.
This is when your baby is going to be practicing their motor skills, and much of the food they attempt to put into their mouths may not make it there, so don’t count on this food adding to their nutrition. You will still want to give them a little bit of milk or formula.
Near the 9th month mark, they should be able to make the food into their mouth and reap the nutritional benefits. Once this happens, you can begin replacing some of the formula or milk from their diet with foods that are high in protein and calcium.
10 To 12 Months Old
By now, your baby should have mastered how to hold a bottle, grasp food with the “pincer” grip, and they should be chewing more than sucking. This is an exciting time because you can allow them to begin feeding themselves while you encourage them.
You will still be giving your baby breast milk or formula during this time, however, babies can eat soft solids and should even be eating with the family. You will want to give them food that is soft enough for them to chew.
You will want to avoid giving your baby anything that could cause them to choke. This includes things like popcorn, peanuts, whole grapes, hot dogs, or any hard vegetables like raw carrots and raw apples. You will also want to avoid food that is too thick and will be hard to swallow. An example of this is thick globs of peanut butter on a slice of white bread, or even hot cereal that is too thick.
Breast Milk Vs Formula Vs Ready-Made Formula
When it comes to deciding between breast milk or formula, many people will say breast milk is the best thing you can give your baby. Breastfeeding (or pumping and giving breast milk from a bottle) is ideal because it can defend against infections, prevent allergies, and it can even protect your baby against a variety of chronic conditions such as:
Breast milk is often preferred not only because of the health benefits of it, but also because it is free and incredibly convenient. You don’t have to worry about buying expensive formula, nor do you have to worry about not having a clean bottle and nipple.
With formula, you will have the option of using powder formula that you add to water, a concentrated liquid formula that you add water to, or ready-to-use formula. All of these formulas will have the nutritional needs your baby needs.
The main concern about giving baby formula is the cost. The powdered formula is going to be the least expensive of the three options, but it can be messy to make and it can also cause your baby to experience constipation. Also, if you are traveling, you will either have to make the formula before you go, or tote around the canister and water bottles.
The concentrated liquid formula is going to be easier to prepare – just need to pour some concentrate into the bottle with water and shake. While it is going to be easier to make and less messy, it is going to be a little more costly.
The most expensive option is going to be the ready-to-go formulas. These products are rich and quite thick, and you aren’t going to have to add any water to it before feeding. This formula is less-likely to cause constipation, but it as we said, it is the most expensive option. This may not be the best choice for families on a tight budget.
What Is A Safe Temperature For Formula Or Breast Milk?
In all honesty, there is no reason why you need to warm your baby’s formula or milk. It’s more along the lines of what your baby prefers – some babies do not like cold milk. If you’re breastfeeding, naturally the milk is going to be body temperature, a comfortable 98.6 degrees.
If you are pumping your breast milk and storing it for later use (like when you are out and about and you don’t want to be the subject of public scrutiny for breast feeding), you will want to get the milk up to body temperature because that is what your baby is used to.
You can warm the milk or the formula by running it under hot water, or you can put it in a pot of simmering water much like what your grandparents or parents used to.
You never want to put the bottle into the microwave because the microwave will heat the contents unevenly and cause hot pockets that could burn your baby’s mouth. Also, the microwave will cause the nutrients to break down.
A bottle warmer is an excellent option for heating milk or formula because the warmer will not cause the milk to get too hot, which means it’ll be safer for baby to eat, but it’ll maintain the nutritional value.
What Is A Bottle Warmer?
A bottle warmer is a small device that you can use to heat your baby’s bottle. These devices can bring the formula or milk up to a temperature that is safe for baby to drink – ranging from 90 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees. Unlike using a microwave, bottle warmers do not break down the nutrients in the milk or the formula.
A word of caution though, not all bottle warmers are suitable for warming breast milk. If you are a breastfeeding momma and you like to pump extra and store it in bottles for later use, you will want to find a warmer that is safe for breast milk.
Remember: Never microwave breast milk!
Benefits Of Using A Bottle Warmer
We mentioned that using a bottle warmer isn’t necessary, but there are some pretty good reasons/benefits to them!
Types Of Bottle Warmers
There are several different types of bottle warmers that you can choose from:
The standard bottle warmer is the most common variety. You will place the bottle into a water reservoir and turn it on. The unit has a heating element that’ll heat the water, which will then heat the bottle and its contents.
These warmers will usually have a light that’ll signal you that the milk/formula has reached the desired temperature. There will also be a thermostat that’ll keep the water at the desired temperature.
When you’re shopping for the best bottle warmer, we recommend looking for devices that’ll also sterilize your bottles and nipples, but also will be able to heat solid baby food so that you get the most use out of the product.
This system is very much like the standard bottle warmer except that it will also have a section that’ll keep extra bottles cool. This is a great option because you can keep a fully stocked unit in the nursery.
Portable warmers are ideal for active families who like to travel. These devices generally require more time to heat the bottle to the desired temperature, but the sheer convenience of being able to travel and always have warm milk on hand for your baby is pretty awesome too.
Car Bottle Warmers
A bottle warmer for the car will plug into the cigarette lighter or the AC power socket in the car. These devices will usually have a strap or a wrap that’ll wrap around the bottle or a jar of food, which will heat up.
Do keep in mind that these do not heat up quickly, but they can be quite useful when you plug it in at the start of the trip because by the time your baby is hungry, the milk will be good and warm.
A flask type bottle warmer features two sections: an insulated inner flask that you will need to fill with boiling water, and a lid that is going to be large enough to fit a bottle inside with the hot water.
To use this type of warmer, you will want to remove the lid and pour the hot water into the lid. Place the bottle in the hot water and it should warm up within a few minutes.
How To Clean A Bottle Warmer?
As you use the bottle warmer, you are going to want to make sure that you clean it from time to time to prevent a buildup of mineral deposits and harmful bacteria.
To clean your warmer, you first want to make sure it is unplugged to that you don’t get hurt! You will then want to remove any excess water that may still be in the unit and then follow the instruction manual that comes with the product.
However, generally speaking, these are the basic steps to cleaning your bottle warmer:
After you’ve cleaned your bottle warmer, you will want to make sure the bottles, nipples, and other feeding utensils are properly sterilized. You can do this with hot, soapy water. You’ll want to do this after every time you feed your baby. We don’t recommend putting your bottles and such in the dishwasher alone – unless the dishwasher has a sterilization setting.
Fortunately, there are some bottle warmers that have a feature that can be used to sterilize the bottles. Using a bottle warmer that doubles as a sterilizer is beneficial because you don’t have to worry about sterilizing the bottles by hand.
Being a parent is one of those adventures that you are never truly ready for. People around you may offer you plenty of suggestions on how to care for your bundle of joy, but no one can truly tell you what is best because, like you, your baby is unique.
Some people will tell you that you don’t need a bottle warmer to prepare warm formula or breast milk for your baby. Some will tell you that you absolutely need one and they may even insist on getting you one!
The only way you will know if a bottle warmer is going to be a practical device for you is to have your baby and see how they respond to room temperature or cool milk. Some babies have absolutely no problems drinking liquids that aren’t warm!
If you do decide that you need one of these wonderful little machines, then good on you! The tricky part is trying to decide which is going to be the best one to get – there are so many options available it can be overwhelming!
We anticipated this and we’ve created a buying guide that provides you with five mini-reviews of our favorite bottle warmers. Not only do we break down the features of the warmers, but we also give you an overview of what customers had to say about the product so you can get an idea of how the warmer works.
You can see the buying guide here!