Should You Warm Baby Formula?

Mother feeding baby with bottle on sofa
Blend Images - Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

You don't usually ever have to warm an infant's milk or formula. It is more a personal preference than anything else. Some infants do just fine drinking formula at room temperature or even when it is a little cool. After all, once you switch to whole milk, you likely won't be warming it up anymore and will offer it right out of the refrigerator.

If your baby is used to you warming her formula bottles, she might not appreciate your making the change later. If she is a very easy-going baby, she might not care and you could probably give it a try if you like. Besides, not having to warm the bottles of the formula is much more convenient.

Risks of Warming Bottles

When warming up infant formula, there are a few points to keep in mind.

Do Not Use a Microwave

Because of the risk of scalding burns, remember to not use a microwave to warm your baby's bottles of formula. A microwave heats things unevenly and can lead to superheated pockets of formula in the bottle which can scald your baby's mouth.

Although many parents do use a microwave to heat bottles, then vigorously shake the bottle and test the formula before giving it to their baby, it still isn't a safe practice. It is safer to use a baby bottle warmer or some warmed tap water to warm the bottle.

Go BPA Free

The type of bottle you use to feed your baby makes a big difference. BPA stands for bisphenol A, which is a chemical that has been used since the 1960s in manufacturing many hard plastic food containers, including baby bottles and sippy cups, in addition to the lining of metal cans used for liquid infant formula, according to the FDA (the U.S. food and drug administration).

When hot or boiling foods (including water, infant formula, or other foods and liquids) come in contact with containers made with BPA, then traces of BPA get transferred on to the food. 

Since 2008, the use of BPA in baby bottles has dropped out of favor with manufacturers, since BPAs have been associated with leading to certain cancers, and disrupting brain development and the reproductive system (including early onset of puberty). In 2013, the FDA supported an end to the use of BPA-based epoxy resins in the lining of formula cans.

The FDA recommends boiling water in a BPA-free container. Then allow it to cool to lukewarm and mix with powdered infant formula.

  • Discard baby bottles, sippy cups, and other food containers that are scratched, since scratches in plastics can harbor germs and release small amounts of BPA (if they were used in the manufacturing of the container).
  • Check labels on bottles and containers for the recycle codes on the bottom—In general, plastics marked with recycling codes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 are very unlikely to contain BPA. Some (but not all) plastics marked with recycling codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
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Article Sources
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  1. Kids Health from Nemours. Formula Feeding FAQs: Preparation and Storage. Updated February 2015.

  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application. Updated June 27, 2018.

  3. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Indirect Food Additives: Adhesives and Components of Coatings. Published July 12, 2013.