Preparing to travel with your baby or toddler who is still drinking breast milk, formula, or a combination of both can seem daunting at first. Even if you just have one child, the amount of preparation required for a full day or more of travel can be overwhelming.
Oftentimes, your baby’s sleep and feeding schedule will need to be shifted around to accommodate your travel arrangements, and this means that milk or formula will need to be stored and chilled for later use (for more on this, check out our tips for traveling with baby bottles).
You’ll need to find a safe and hygienic method for warming this back up to your baby’s preference, and a baby travel bottle warmer has been one of our travelling essentials when my family and I have been on the go for precisely that reason.
This post is part of our tried & tested products series. You may also like to refer to our Baby Travel Essentials page (with downloadable baby travel checklist)
What to Look For in a Travel Bottle Warmer
Some of you might be wondering, “Why can’t I just bring my regular bottle warmer with me? Are travel bottle warmers really so different?” And the answer is, yes.
The key difference between a portable bottle warmer and an at-home one is the need for an electrical plugin in order to work. While there will be times along your route where you will have access to electricity, such as airport terminals, hotels, and restaurants, it would be wise to have alternative choices. Most portable baby bottle warmers are also more compactly designed, allowing you room for the countless other essential items in your diaper bag.
There are several travel-savvy choices out there for you, and I’m bringing you tried and true selections to help keep your little one as content and well-fed as possible when breastfeeding is not an option, or when you need to heat up that bottle of formula.
Different travel bottle warmers have features that make them more flight-friendly versus being better for road trips, and you’ll want to consider these options and how they’ll fit with your needs as a travelling mum.
Length of Warming Time
Regardless of how long your car ride, flight, or seafaring voyage may be, it’s best to choose a travel bottle warmer with a speedy warm-up time. I can speak from experience that while you can get your baby on a fairly routine schedule, there are still those times when they suddenly become ravenously hungry. Listening to escalating hunger screams while it takes 45 minutes for their bottle to heat up to lukewarm is simply a recipe for disaster.
Car vs. Plane
Bottle warmers for the car have different power options as opposed to what you might consider for something in-flight or at the airport. Some bottle warmers only function when plugged into the car adapter. You will also want one that fits easily into most cup holders to avoid any unwanted spills. If you and your baby are going to be flying, you’ll want to consider the size of the travel bottle warmer as well as how involved the warming process will be, given that you will most likely be juggling several items (and baby) in a confined space.
Ease of cleaning
I recommend a portable bottle warmer with as few components that need to be cleaned as possible since the opportunities to do so might be few and far between. I have been known to pack a small bottle of dish detergent and a bottle brush when travelling with my babies on longer trips, but why not just eliminate this item from your scrubbing list?
Bottle size accommodation
I don’t think I can stress enough that regardless of the type of travel bottle warmer you decide to go with, it needs to be able to accommodate many different bottle sizes. Some bottle warmers can only fit standard mouth bottles, which means any bottles with a wider mouth won’t fit. It’s best to have the most versatile bottle warmer possible.
Some bottle warmers are remarkably low-tech, needing only hot water to heat up breast milk or formula, while others require a USB plugin, batteries, or a normal electrical outlet. It’s important to take a look at your travel plans, accommodations, and available amenities when making your choice. Will there be long stretches of time in between when you have access to electricity? That doesn’t mean that a bottle warmer with a USB plugin is out of the question, but adding a portable power bank to your travel supplies might be worth considering.
If you are travelling overseas there’s the added complication of international power sockets to consider too.
Top 7 Travel Bottle Warmers Worth Trying in 2020
Best Overall Travel Bottle Warmer
How It Works: This no-frills bottle warmer unequivocally proves that simplicity is the best route to choose no matter your journey. The warmer requires no electricity to work, which means you don’t need to worry about additional cords, chargers, or potential technical malfunctions.
All this portable baby bottle warmer needs is hot water, which you can get from petrol stations, the airport coffee shop, and even on the airplane. Fill up the thermal flask before your car ride or flight, and you’ll have hot water for hours. The bottle warmer accommodates most standard size bottles, and it has a compact design perfect for diaper bags. Its spill-proof design is also a plus.
Best USB Bottle Warmer
How It Works: My favourite thing about this USB bottle warmer is its impressive warming time-4 minutes! Not only does it warm up breast milk or formula incredibly quickly, it also keeps milk at a constant temperature for up to 10 hours. You can connect to any USB port, including power banks, your car’s USB port, and laptops.
This lightweight bottle warmer weighs less than a pound and fits easily into your diaper bag. It comes with its own bottle and nipple, but it also has adapters for most popular name-brand bottles out there. Its four temperature modes also allow you to customize heating depending on type of milk.
Best Multi-Function Bottle Warmer
How It Works: In terms of functionality, this portable bottle warmer hits the trifecta. Not only does it heat up bottles, but it can also warm baby food and acts as a steam sterilizer. Some bottle warmers have somewhat excessive settings, so the simple dial control is an attractive feature. A major selling point for me is that it fits all bottle sizes and heats milk in around 2 minutes.
One drawback for this travel bottle warmer is that you have to plug it into an electrical outlet. This obviously doesn’t eliminate it as a viable option, but it does restrict the places you can use it. The benefit, however, is that you can also use it as your regular bottle warmer at home as well as on the go.
Best Car Bottle Warmer
How It Works: Although most newer models of cars have USB ports as well as car adapters, not everyone drives the latest model. This is precisely why the Kiinde Kozi has my vote for best warmer for the car. You just need to fill it with piping hot water, and it keeps it at that temperature for hours.
This bottle warmer also fits perfectly into most cup holders, making it easily accessible and saves on space. In addition, the warmer actually has two different sizes of cups, so you can heat up that midday bottle the same time you’re warming up a container or pouch of baby food. Its dual functionality makes it all the more attractive to the road-weary traveler.
Other Car Bottle warmer options to consider
Best Hybrid Bottle Warmer
How It Works: Part insulated carrying case, part bottle warmer, this combination of the two can hold up to two wide mouth bottles or one standard size bottle. The AOZBZ bottle warmer comes with a USB cable that you can plug into any USB port, allowing for constant charging time while you’re on the go.
Although this baby travel bottle warmer can’t boast a quick warming time like the others (it can take up to 20 minutes to warm a bottle), it does allow you to keep a bottle warm for a long period of time while you’re travelling, as long as the case is plugged in and charging. The compact case can easily be stored in your diaper bag or other carry-on luggage, and the insulated interior can be quickly wiped and sanitized for multiple uses.
Best Smart Travel Bottle Warmer
How It Works: If you’re looking to go a little more high-tech on your road trip and want to bypass the need to stop for hot water, the PUNCIA Smart Beast is an excellent alternative. This warmer plugs into the car adapter and fits into most cup holders. It’s compatible with most standard size bottles, and can also heat milk stored in bags as well as formula.
My favourite feature of this smart bottle warmer is the LCD display. You can customize the temperature setting, and it will display the actual temperature of the milk or formula. When the display is red, it’s in heating mode. After 7-8 minutes, the display turns blue and you’re all set!
Best Airport and Hotel-Friendly Bottle Warmer
How It Works: Perhaps you’re one of those seasoned traveling mums who has mastered the art of breastfeeding on the go, to which I both applaud and admire you! You might only need a bottle warmer for places like the airport or in your hotel room because you’ve managed to get in enough nursing or well-timed pumping sessions during the day. If you’re like me, this could never be achieved without a quality nursing cover, which is also something I never left home without!
In this case, the Tommee Tippee Easi-Warm Bottle Warmer is a sleek, basic option for you to pack in your luggage and take out when you need it. It fits almost every popular brand of bottle, heats milk in about 4 minutes, and has no parts that you can accidentally leave behind.
It’s important to consider your specific needs when choosing the best travel bottle warmer for you and your little one, and there are many wonderful and versatile options out there for you to choose from. Whether you’re in the car or in the air, I hope I’ve provided workable solutions for each, and everything in between.
Looking for more baby travel product ideas? Why not try:
- Best portable baby bathtubs for washing away from home
- Do I need a travelling high chair?
- Compact strollers for travel (so small they can come with you on the plane!)
- The best beach tents to keep baby protected from the sun
- Portable sleep solutions – baby sleep pods to toddler cots on the go
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