Are you looking for the best bottle sterilizer and warmer for your little one?
Before making a buying decision, go through this detailed buying guide to understand your exact needs, types, technologies and features of the best bottle sterilizer and warmer for your baby.
For convenience, some parents prefer to have a single machine for both sterilizing and warming the bottles, whereas others opt for separate units for these functions. The first question you should ask:
Why is a bottle warmer necessary?
For two reasons – you have multiple bottles to warm, and you want to provide your baby breast or formula milk warmed at a right temperature, consistently. Time saving and convenience are the two benefits which a bottle warmer provides. It frees your hands for taking care of other chores for your little one like changing the diapers or cuddling.
For breastfeeding mothers, the most important factor is to ensure that the milk should always be lukewarm (1040 F max) since overheating destroys important nutrients and antibodies which are vital for the baby’s health and immunity.
Technologies used in bottle warmers
Two technologies are used in bottle warmers – water bath and steam heat. Generally, the water bath technology, though more time-consuming, is better since it warms the milk gently keeping all the important nutrients intact.
On the other hand, the steam heat technology which is faster than water bath, if not thermostatically controlled; can overheat the milk or create hotspots if the milk is not thoroughly shake after warming.
What features to look for in a bottle warmer?
Auto shut off timer
A must-have to avoid overheating of milk and to preserve important nutrients. Timer based auto shut off feature is preferred over temperature based since it allows you to exactly estimate the time it needs to warm the milk at your desired temperature. On the other hand, temperature based auto shutoffs may sometimes overheat or under heat the milk, especially if you get busy in other stuff and forget to take the bottle out.
Prefer to choose a brand that is compatible with bottles of all sizes, shapes and materials you have, or plan to have in the future. Check out the specification carefully or ask the seller about the compatibility.
An audible beep at the end of the warming cycle informs you that the bottle has been warmed and is ready to be taken out. This is especially handy if you are not in the same room where the warmer is. Gives you another clue to avoid over or under heating.
Frequent refilling of water reservoir can be challenging for busy mothers and demanding babies. A big reservoir reduces frequent refills throughout the day and night (when you are dead tired). If this is a concern for you, try to select a model which can monitor the water level so that the water can be used for numerous cycles without needing a refill.
Ease of use
Simplicity makes things easy. Choose a model with simple functions. It often saves a lot of time, effort and frustration. You should not opt for the brands offering options you don’t really need.
Trial and error
Regardless how strictly you follow the instruction manual, there are certain things you will learn with trial and error only. Finding the perfect setting for your desired temperature consistently will take some time. So be ready and have patience.
Ease of cleaning
Since all bottle warmers use water, there is a high probability that mineral deposits will form at the bottom or sides of the reservoir. Frequent descaling and cleaning with vinegar will be required for upkeep. Avoid the model with complicated and difficult cleaning process.
Bottle sterilizers – Is a sterilizer necessary?
Some parents ignore the need for a proper sterilizer. One should remember that babies have weak immune systems. Therefore, anything that comes into contact with the baby’s mouth i.e. bottles, tethers, breast pump, pacifiers should be completely clean and sterile. By not using a bottle sterilizer, you will definitely be putting your baby’s health in jeopardy.
It is a known fact that breast milk, if not properly handled, can prove to be a good breeding place for harmful germs, viruses and bacteria. Always sterilize the bottles used for breast or formula milk.
Types and technologies of bottle sterilizers
Bottle sterilizers are of two types, steam bottle sterilizers and UV bottle sterilizers. Steam sterilizer are subdivided into two categories; electric sterilizers and microwave sterilizers
Electric sterilizers use hot steam to kill harmful germs and bacteria. Some models also dry and deodorize the bottles after sterilization completes. You simply put the required amount of water into the reservoir, put the bottle(s) inside, put the lid down and turn on the knob. Since it takes some time, you will have to schedule the sterilization properly so that you can get the sterilized bottles in time. Usually, if the lid is not opened, sterilized items remain sterile for 24 hours.
Microwave sterilizers also use the steam, however the process is somewhat different. The water filled microwavable container is put into the microwave for a specified period of time. Microwave sterilizers are faster than electric sterilizers.
UV/portable bottle sterilizers use ultraviolet rays to kill the germs. Designed to be portable, they are comparatively much smaller. They are ideal for travelling families.
What features to look for in electric sterilizers?
Ease of use
Again, the simpler the operations the better. Sterilizers with digital display are preferable as they can be conveniently used in the night.
A smaller size will occupy less space on the kitchen counter. However, you have to balance between the size and utility. If you need to sterilize more than one bottle at a time you would definitely go with bigger models.
Average cycle time of a normal sterilizer is between 6 and 12 minutes plus 10 more minutes to cool down the bottle. Your baby may become impatient if he has to wait for that long. You should set up a schedule for sterilization so that you have the bottles ready at feed time.
In addition to bottles, a good sterilizer should also be able to sterilize other accessories like breast pump parts, pacifiers, tethers, cups, nipples etc. Choose a multipurpose durable model so that after your baby comes out of breastfeeding phase, you should be able to use it for sterilizing cups, spoons and bowls.
Auto shut off
This is important for safety. After completion of the sterilization cycle, the auto shut off feature prevents the heating element from overheating or short-circuiting.
What features to look for in microwave sterilizers?
Look at the dimensions carefully. They should match the size of your microwave. Also, because of their compact size microwave sterilizers may not accommodate large size bottles.
When used over a longer period of time inside a microwave, the plastic body often becomes soft which may become a safety hazard. Choose a sturdy and durable model.
Ease of use
Avoid models having operations with confusing bells and whistles.
We hope that after going through this detailed buying guide you are in a better position to select the right model for your baby.
If you are looking for the best model having the good characteristic mentioned above, check out our review of the 5 best bottle sterilizes and warmers available in the market at this time.