During those first few weeks after your newborn comes home, you may be searching for an easy and fast way to warm a bottle at night. I tested a few different methods and found the one that worked the quickest to warm up a bottle in the middle of the night.
This method worked well for bottles of pumped breast milk and for formula bottles. It definitely helped us both get back to sleep more quickly!
So, how do you warm a bottle at night?
- Leave a pre-made bottle in a mini refrigerator or cooler with ice packs.
- Use a small crock-pot or travel thermos to keep water warm all night.
- Start warming the bottle when the baby wakes up.
- Change your baby’s diaper while the bottle warms.
- Test the bottle for temperature, then feed.
There are a few different tips and tricks that you can use to warm up those nighttime bottles. You can also try different techniques if you are starting with a room-temperature bottle or a cold bottle. There are also a few unique methods you can use if you are serving a bottle of breastmilk or a bottle of formula.
Step 1 – Leave a Prepared Bottle In A Mini Fridge Or A Cooler With Ice Packs
The first step is to prepare a bottle or two before going to bed. If your prepared bottle is in the bedroom or the nursery with you, then it will save you a little time. This is because you will not need to make a trip to the kitchen for the bottle.
It can also help save time because:
- You will not need to fumble with measuring milk or formula, and
- You will not need to assemble a bottle in the middle of the night.
One way to do this is to keep a mini fridge in the bedroom or nursery. If you are pumping milk, then this mini fridge can also store your expressed milk from your late night and middle of the night pump sessions.
Step 2 – Use A Small Crockpot Or Travel Thermos To Keep Water Warm All Night
The next step is to make sure that you have water that is already warm. This way, you do not have to wait for the water to warm up, and then the bottle to warm.
There are a couple of methods that work really well for this. They shaved a few precious minutes off of our nighttime feeding routine.
Method 1: Crockpot Method For Warming Bottles
After testing a few different methods, my favorite way was to use a small crockpot to warm up baby bottles at night.
Our daycare kept a crockpot filled with water on the low setting on the countertop all day long. I thought, why not do that at night?
This method turned out to be so genius!
When you use a bottle warmer, first you have to wait for the bottle warmer to heat the water. Then, you can start to warm up the bottle. The crockpot takes away this first step, so the bottle can immediately begin to warm up.
This shaved several precious minutes off the time it takes to warm a bottle at night. It may allow you and baby to both get back to sleep more quickly.
My favorite crockpot was tiny and only took up a small amount of counter space. It worked perfectly, and I loved that I could still use after I no longer needed it for our baby. You can check it out here (link to Amazon).
Method 2: Thermos Method For Warming Bottles
The Thermos Method was my second favorite method. I used this when we were traveling with our little one and we were away from home (and the crock pot).
The idea is that you heat a small amount of water before you go to sleep and fill a thermos one-third to one-half full of water. The Thermos will keep the water hot all night.
You can then use this hot water to warm the baby bottle when your baby wakes up.
Bonus Tip: You can also use this Thermos to heat up a baby bottle when you are on-the-go. If you have to be out doing errands, or if you are at a friend’s house, carry this Thermos with you during the daytime.
My favorite Thermos worked so well to keep water warm all night. As a bonus, I could use it to keep my own drinks hot or cold after my baby stopped taking bottles overnight. You can check out all the cute colors and prints it comes in here (link to Amazon).
Method 3: Store Milk In Bags Instead of Bottles
The third method can be used in combination with the crockpot or Thermos methods above. If your milk or formula is stored in bags, then they will heat more quickly than they will in a bottle.
This is because when the milk is in a bag, a greater surface area is exposed to the warm water.
The only drawback to this method is that once the milk is warm, you will need to transfer the milk from the bag into the feeding bottle.
You can use any breast milk storage bag for this method. I loved using these bags, because I could just screw them straight into the bottle.
This meant that after the milk was warm, I did not have to transfer the milk and fill up a bottle during the middle of the night.
Safety Note About Warming Bottles
Be sure if you are storing warm water in your bedroom, that the crockpot or Thermos are in locations where they cannot be easily tipped over.
Here are a few other safety tips:
- Be sure to keep the warm water away from where your baby will be sleeping.
- If you have enough counter space in the bathroom, this may be a good spot to store the crockpot or Thermos
- Another spot to store the crockpot or Thermos may be on top of a dresser or table on the opposite side of the room from where your baby is sleeping.
Step 3 – Start Warming The Bottle After The Baby Wakes Up
The next step is to take the cold bottle out of the cooler or mini fridge. When your baby wakes up, but the bottle into the warm water.
If you are using a crockpot, then the bottle can go into the crockpot.
If you are using a Thermos, then you have a couple of choices. If your bottle fits into the Thermos, then the bottle can go straight into it for warming.
If your bottle is a little too wide to fit in the Thermos, then you can pour the warm water into another vessel, like a large coffee cup. Fill the coffee cup until it is half-full, and set the bottle into the water.
Pro Tip: When the bottle is in the warm water, the warm water should be at the level of the milk within the bottle.
So, if the bottle is filled to 4 ounces, then the water will be filled up to the same 4-ounce mark on the outside of the bottle.
This way, the maximum amount of surface area of milk will be touching the warm water. It will help the bottle to heat up more quickly.
As a side note, I had a question from a mom who asked if she could leave the bottle in the warmer for several hours.
She wanted to leave the bottle in the warmer from the time she went to bed until her baby woke up. The answer is, no! Please do not do this, it could make your baby sick. Leaving a bottle in warm water for many hours creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
Step 4 – Change Baby’s Diaper While The Bottle Warms
Next, while the bottle is warming up, start to change your baby’s diaper. This has a couple of benefits. The first is that it gives you a minute or two for the milk to warm up.
The other benefit is that changing the diaper may wake your baby up a little bit. Getting this step out of the way first will help your baby get back to sleep more quickly after your little one is finished with the bottle.
Step 5 – Test The Bottle For Temperature, Then Feed
Now, the bottle has been warming up for a minute or two. Test the bottle for temperature. It should be warm, but not hot.
If the bottle is the right temperature, go ahead and feed it.
4 Other Methods To Warm A Bottle At Night
Here are a few other methods you can use to warm a bottle at night. These methods will work with bottles of pumped breastmilk and bottles of formula.
- Fill a bowl with hot tap water, and use this warm water to warm the bottle.
- Microwave water in a glass or ceramic container for a minute. Then, use that water to warm the bottle.
- This method may work the best if you are in an apartment or a house where the bedrooms are close to the kitchen or where your microwave is stored
- Note that you should never put a bottle into the microwave. This can create dangerous hot spots and burn your baby’s mouth.
- Test if your baby will take a room-temperature bottle, a lukewarm bottle, or a cold bottle.
- Use a bottle warmer. A bottle warmer may take a few minutes to warm up, so it may take a little bit longer than the other methods mentioned above.
Can You Leave a Bottle Warmer On All Night?
No, you should not leave a bottle warmer on all night. Many bottle warmers heat water with steam. This may be a fire hazard if the water evaporates and the bottle warmer is not shut off.
It is much safer to use a vessel that is designed to stay on for several hours, like the crockpot method described above.
Method For Feeding Pumped (Expressed) Milk At Night
One method you may want to try if you have pumped milk is to leave a freshly pumped bottle on the countertop.
According to the CDC guidelines, freshly pumped milk can stay out at room temperature for up to 4 hours. This is as long as the room temperature is below 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 degrees Celsius.
When the bottle starts at room temperature, it will warm up more quickly than if it starts out cold. Your baby may even be willing to drink this bottle when it is room temperature.
To follow the CDC guidelines, you will only want to do this with freshly pumped milk and not with previously refrigerated or cooled milk. This is to help prevent the growth of bacteria.
It is also best to smell or taste the milk before serving it to your baby to make sure it hasn’t spoiled.
Just to be clear, this method is only for pumped breastmilk.
If you’ve pre-made a bottle of formula, and the powder has been mixed with water, it cannot be left out on the counter the same way that pumped breastmilk can be left on the counter.
As soon as formula powder is mixed with water, it should either be refrigerated immediately or served to your baby within an hour. This is based on the CDC guidelines for safely feeding infant formula.
3 More Methods Just For Feeding Formula At Night
Here are a few methods you can use if you are formula feeding, and/or supplementing with formula at night.
Method 1 For Formula Feeding At Night
If you are using formula, you can pre-measure the water in the bottle and pre-measure the scoops of formula in a formula dispenser.
Then, you can leave the pre-measured water out at room temperature overnight. When the baby wakes up, add the formula powder to the water in the bottle. This bottle can then be warmed up in a crockpot or served at room temperature.
Method 2 For Supplementing With Formula At Night
A second method if you are using formula is to store clean, sterile warm water in a Thermos. This warm water can be mixed with room temperature water to create a bottle that is the perfect temperature for your baby.
So, for example, if you are serving a bottle that requires 4 ounces of water, follow these steps:
- Pre-measure 2 ounces of warm water and store it overnight in a Thermos.
- Pre-measure 2 ounces of water and store it in your feeding bottle.
- When it is time to feed your baby, mix the two amounts of water together with the formula powder.
- Test the bottle for temperature to double-check that it is not too hot.
- Feed it to your baby when it is the correct temperature.
Method 3 For Feeding Formula Bottles At Night
Finally, a third option is you may consider investing in a machine that mixes the water and formula powder together.
These machines work similarly to a Keurig, where you add water and formula powder in separate compartments ahead of time. The only thing you need to do is press a button to prepare a bottle.
This makes feeding so convenient, especially if you are groggy in the middle of the night! Here is a link to check out the one that gets the best reviews (link to Amazon).
Must-Have Pumping Gear
Hear are a few of my favorite pumping items that made my life so much easier.
- This is the best pumping bra that is actually comfortable to wear all day long (the Sublime version). Use this link and code Lisa15 for a special discount on your purchase!
- Try the Chocolate Fudge flavor of this yummy milk-boosting protein powder.
- Click here for the best deal on the WillowGo pump!
- These are the best baby bottle labels that will not wash off or wear off. The pineapple design and the whale design are two of my favorites.
- My favorite pumping bag that is roomy enough for my pump, a laptop, a cooler, and a lunch bag. They have so many cute colors and prints but I really love the Floral print.
- These custom baby name onesies I found on Etsy are so adorable I ended up buying them in two different colors. The shop even has a really cute matching mommy and me set.
- I used this tiny mini fridge (link to Amazon) near my pumping station at home so I didn’t have to trek to the kitchen after a middle of the night pumping session.
- This postpartum care box has a couple of my must-have items for the first few months after baby arrives. The tubes that help with engorgement provide so much relief.
- If you enjoyed this article, you can help support this blog by buying me a coffee here. Your support is very much appreciated!
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