For many parents, the idea of microwaving a baby bottle is one that seems far too risky. However, it’s also an option for moms and dads who are in need of a quick heating solution.
But how does microwaving actually affect the quality of your baby’s milk? Is it safe to microwave plastic baby bottles? We’ll answer these questions below!
Is It Safe to Microwave Plastic Baby Bottles?
As a general rule, you shouldn’t microwave your baby’s bottle. This is because microwaving a baby bottle can cause negative effects that range from chemical leaching to over-heating the milk, and it only takes one use for them to start taking effect.
But, Isn’t Today’s BPA-Free Plastic Safe for Babies?
Now, I know that you’re probably thinking that the problem with microwaving a baby bottle is due to BPA, and today’s modern plastic baby bottles are BPA-free. But, unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Even though today’s plastic no longer contains BPA, they still contain other harmful chemicals that can seep into your baby’s milk when microwaved.
As reported by NPR and other news outlets, plastic products marked as BPA-free can still contain other chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen in your body.
In a study of more than 450 plastics products, including plastic bottles and sippy cups, found that more than 70% of them leached estrogenic chemicals even without exposure to microwave ovens, dishwashers, or boiling water.
As a mother, that news makes me angry! The last thing I want to do is give my children less healthy and more harmful milk. I hope this can be a wake-up call for all parents that microwaving plastic baby bottles should never be an option, regardless of whether they are microwave safe or not.
Other Risks of Microwaving a Baby Bottle
Aside from its “dirty” effects, there are other reasons why microwaving a baby bottle isn’t safe. One of the most concerning reasons is that microwaving can cause the baby’s milk to become extremely hot and burn your baby’s mouth and throat.
Another concerning issue is the fact that hot liquid forms steam when it’s microwaved. This can cause a build-up of pressure in the bottle that can cause the bottle to explode.
The last yet equally concerning issue with microwaving your baby’s bottle is that it can cause it to lose nutrients. The high temperatures that you subject your baby’s bottle to can cause vitamins and essential minerals in the milk to evaporate, which is bad news for your little one!
Plastic or Glass Bottles?
This brings us to our next question: which one is better, plastic or glass baby bottles?
Many parents feel safe using glass baby bottles because they don’t contain the harmful chemicals that plastic bottles do, but they do come with their own set of problems.
One of the biggest ones is that they can shatter when dropped or thrown by your children, and they are also much heavier than plastic bottles.
If you want to try glass baby bottles but are concerned about the negatives, there is a solution! You can purchase silicone sleeves that go around your baby’s bottles to protect them from shattering when dropped or thrown.
Fast, Easy Ways to Safely Warm Your Baby’s Bottle
So what should you do when you need to warm your baby’s milk? Well, the good news is that there are many safe ways to warm your baby’s bottles. But before we go over my favorite methods, let’s first go over the perfect temperature for your baby’s milk.
The Perfect Temperature for Breast Milk and Formula
Actually, you don’t need to heat your baby bottle. Many babies are perfectly happy with their milk at room temperature or slightly cooler. However, if your baby prefers warm milk, make sure to test it on your wrist before giving it to your baby.
Just drop a few drops of milk from the bottle onto your wrist. If it feels hot, let it cool down for a few minutes. If it feels slightly cool, it should still be fine for your little one. But if it feels cold, heat it up a little more until it feels just right. Once the milk is sufficiently warm, go ahead and bottle-feed your baby.
Another way you can be sure that your baby milk is at the right temperature is by using a food thermometer. Simply insert it into your baby’s milk and wait until it is warmed to body temperature, around 98.6° Fahrenheit.
3 of My Favorite Methods to Warm Baby Bottles
Now that you know what temperature your baby’s milk needs to be at, here are my favorite safe ways to warm it.
On the stove
One of the most tried and true methods of warming a baby bottle is on the stove. Just grab one of your pots and fill it with water. Then, warm the water on the stove until it is lukewarm but not too hot. Next, remove the pot from the burner, and place your baby bottle in it until it is warm to the touch.
Gently swirl the bottle in the pot occasionally to avoid uneven heating. Once the bottle feels just right on your wrist, you can pour out any excess water from the pot and feed your baby the milk.
This is the safest and most efficient way to warm your breast milk or infant formula, albeit a little time-consuming.
Under Warm Tap Water
If you’re mixing your baby’s formula and have a sink that is placed conveniently near your changing table, this is one of the easiest ways to prepare your little one’s milk!
Simply hold the bottle and let the warm water run from the faucet into your baby bottle. Once you reach the desired temperature, take it off and feed your baby! This method is especially great for thawing frozen breast milk.
In the Bottle Warmers
If you’re a busy mom like me, then there’s a really good chance that you own a bottle warmer. These devices take the guesswork out of the equation and guarantee that your baby’s bottle is warm to the touch. Plus, if you happen to forget about it while heating your baby’s milk, many modern models even shut off automatically!
What If You Really Need to Microwave Your Plastic Baby Bottle?
If, for some reason, you absolutely need to microwave your baby’s milk, then please make sure to use a microwave-safe plastic bottle and heat it for 40 seconds.
In a study conducted by the Pennsylvania State University, the researchers found that microwaving a bottle at 40 seconds posed no risk of chemical leaching in the bottle and did not alter the milk’s nutritional quality.
However, this can vary from brand to brand and type of plastic bottle, so in my opinion, it is best not to microwave your baby’s bottle and choose the safer methods.
How Long Can Breast Milk Sit Out?
How long you can safely leave your breast milk out before it becomes spoiled depends largely on the storage methods you use.
- Freshly expressed breast milk can sit out for up to four hours when it’s kept at room temperature.
- If you wish to store your milk, make sure it is stored correctly in the refrigerator inside a tightly sealed glass container. Breast milk stored in this manner can last for up to four days.
- If you plan to travel with your baby, you can use an insulated cooler with ice packs to keep your breast milk cool for up to 24 hours.
- If the milk is frozen, it can last up to six months if kept in a freezer-safe container at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
So there you have it! If you are in need of a way to heat up your baby’s milk, I hope that this article was helpful for you. And remember, if you’re unsure of how hot the milk is or if it is the right temperature for your baby, always check the temperature on your wrist or use a food thermometer.
If you’re looking for information on microwaving other types of bottles, including Nalgene water bottles and plastic water bottles, be sure to check out our other posts!