There are a lot of misconceptions about motherhood, especially when it comes to how to feed your baby. One common misconception is that you have to warm up a baby’s bottle. While most babies will take a warm bottle easier, the truth is cold infant formula is perfectly safe and healthy. 

Social impact strategist and doula Shyah Dickerson explained that while a baby’s bottle is fine cold or warm, warm milk is more palatable for some babies. Since breastmilk tends to be warm during nursing, many moms will lean toward a warmer bottle. 

“Newborns are still learning to regulate their body temperature, so warm and room-temperature milk tend to be more soothing and digestible,” she said. “Once your baby is a little older, it’s more of a preference.”

The real dilemma is that not every method of heating up your baby formula is correct. Dickerson explained that new parents often come to her with questions about how to properly warm up a baby bottle.  

As a postpartum doula, I have have heard a lot of concerns from new moms who want to make sure the bottle is not uncomfortable for the baby,” she explained. 

When properly warming up a baby bottle, here are a few pro-tips on what to do and what not to do. 

Avoid the Microwave

Dickerson recommended avoiding the microwave. As an alternative, parents can use more manual warming methods, like putting the bottle under running hot tap or placing the bottle in hot water. 

Microwaves damage the nutrients and antibodies in milk. Another problem with warming up a bottle in a microwave is that it will not fully warm up. There may be spots within the bottle that are warmer than others or hot spots that can burn your baby’s tongue. 

“The microwave is the number one incorrect way to heat up a baby bottle,” Dickerson said. “I also have personal concerns about radiation. 

Thaw Milk Carefully

One great way to thaw breast milk is to place it in the refrigerator and allow it to cool overnight. Once thawed, parents can leave milk out on a counter for about 30 minutes to warm up.

“The most critical part of warming a baby’s bottle properly is the safety and comfort of the baby,” Dickerson said. “We don’t want to burn the baby or incite discomfort in digestion, especially for babies with more sensitive stomachs.” 

Utilize a Trustworthy Bottle Warmer

One way to warm up a bottle safely is with a bottle warmer. There are so many safe gadgets on the market specifically for baby bottles. To ensure they have a quality bottle warmer, Dickerson encouraged expecting moms to add a bottle warmer on their baby shower registry. 

“Do some research on the best brands,” she said. “Some manufacturers claim that their products heat more evenly than a microwave.” 

Be cautious with bottle warmers though. You can mistakenly overheat the bottle, even with bottle warmers.

Temperature Check the Milk

You should always use the inside of your wrist to test the temperature of the milk. Dickerson explained that milk should be warm, never hot. It’s always safer to have a cooler bottle than to overheat it. 

“In those first few weeks, as you are learning and adjusting to the process of warming milk properly, give yourself and your baby a lot of grace,” she added. 

Ensure Milk Is Blended

One step in the warming process that parents easily forget is to confirm that the milk is blended. 

“The fat tends to naturally separate in cold or frozen breast milk,” Dickerson said. “Be sure to swirl — not shake — the milk to get the consistency right.” 

Store Milk Properly 

While there are not many differences in warming formula versus breast milk, there are differences in how you store them. If you are pumping, there is likely no need to warm the breast milk. If breast milk is stored in the refrigerator or freezer, warm it the same way as formula. 

“How you store milk is especially important as formula milk is more prone to bacteria growth,” she said. “So it has a shorter usage period once prepared.”