Can You Microwave Baby Formula?

By: Dr. Maria Cerino - June 10, 2024 - 8 Minute Read

Can You Microwave Baby Formula? | The Milky Box

In the modern era, the microwave has become one of our greatest sources of convenience. It allows us to enjoy a warm meal in minutes with the push of a button, and it saves us from the cumbersome act of dirtying up pots and pans. 

It’s no wonder the idea of using it for warming up bottles feels natural. However, concerns about safety and potential risks linger.

In today’s article, we’ll discuss the potential risks of microwaving baby formula and offer some amazing alternatives to make the process of heating milk easy.

Benefits of Warming Baby Formula

Generally speaking, babies can drink and digest cold or room-temperature formulas. There is nothing wrong with continuing this pattern if your baby is used to it and doesn’t show any signs of discomfort after feeding. It’s completely safe.

Many parents prefer warming baby formula, as it has been shown to have a calming, relaxing effect on their baby. It contributes to having a peaceful feeding routine, and according to some, it also reduces the risk of colic and gastrointestinal discomfort.

A 2019 study showed that a warming formula fed close to body temperature showed a decrease in apnea and the need for reflux treatment. However, there is no evidence of its effectiveness on full-term babies.

Benefits of Warming Baby Formula | The Milky Box

Is it Safe to Warm Baby Bottles in the Microwave?

Warming a bottle in the microwave is not recommended because it can lead to uneven heat distribution. This can cause hot spots, parts of the milk that reach a temperature that can easily burn the insides of their mouth. 

An easy way to think about this is to remember all those times you’ve microwaved your dinner and found spots that were still frozen cold and others that were scalding hot.

In 2018, the American Association of Pediatrics released information advising parents against this practice due to the risks it poses. This advice is still included in most safe parenting guidelines.

Plastic Baby Bottles

Another reason why it might not be a good idea is related to the materials of the baby bottle you’re using. BPA is not used to make baby bottles at present, but there is still the risk of chemicals leaking into your baby’s milk when exposed to extremely high temperatures. 

Many baby bottles are now labeled as "microwave-safe," it's essential to exercise caution and follow manufacturer guidelines to minimize the risk of chemical leaching.

Nutrient Loss 

Parents may also worry about the nutritional value of baby formula when heating it in a microwave. The concern arises from the possibility of the microwave altering the formula's chemical composition, which may reduce its nutritional content.

Is it Safe to use the Microwave? | The Milky Box

How to Heat Formula Safely

Now that we’ve addressed the elephant in the room, we’ll discuss some alternatives that can help you get the job done without putting your baby at risk.

Ways to Heat Breast Milk or Formula

Running it under hot water: One of the easiest, safest ways to get the right temperature without any harsh heat involved is to rotate the bottle under a tap of hot water. Rotating it ensures the heat distributes evenly.

Using a pot of water: Another easy and quick way to heat your milk or formula is to heat some water and place the bottle inside for a minute or two. The water doesn’t have to be boiling; it should be off the heat by the time you introduce the bottle.

Using a bottle warmer: Bottle warmers are not a necessity by any means, but they can be helpful if you can afford them. These are often easy to find second-hand, as many parents discard them once their baby grows.

It’s always useful to remember to shake well and test out the milk before offering it to your baby. You can do this by shaking the bottle and then placing a few drops on your wrist. If you find that it’s too hot still, you can wait a few minutes for it to cool down and repeat the process. 

When in doubt, remember that it’s always better to be safe and offer a bottle that’s been left to cool a little too long than it is to cause an accidental burn.

How to heat baby formula safely | The Milky Box

Safe Microwaving of Solid Foods

Another common question that many parents have is related to warming up solids for their infants. Like in adult foods, sometimes you’ll microwave a puree and find that the center is cold and the rest is piping hot. These next steps are the safest way to heat up your toddler’s dinner in the microwave after a long day.

1. Use a microwave-safe container to avoid the leaking of chemicals into their food. Many parents prefer glass over plastic.

2. Spread the food flat on the container so it forms an even layer.

3. Cover the food with a microwave-safe lid or plate to ensure even heating.

4. Take out the food after a fifteen-second interval, mix it around, and put it back if it’s not hot enough.

5. Serve it on an age-appropriate plate and mix it again, making sure all the hot spots are mixed in with the rest of the food.

6. Enjoy!

Safe Microwaving of Solid Baby Foods | The Milky Box

Handling Baby's Food Safely

Another important aspect of preparing your baby’s bottle is safe food handling. When stored and handled with hygiene, you can ensure your baby’s food will not contain external pathogens. Your baby’s digestive tract is more sensitive during the beginning stages, so it is not uncommon for them to get sick from bacteria that normally do not cause any symptoms. 

Here are our tips to get you started:

● Check the expiration date on your formula before starting.

● Sterilize the bottle before using it for the first time

● Wash your hands before handling their bottle

● Clean the bottle with soap and water after every use. Don’t refill them dirty.

● Discard any leftovers if your baby drinks from the bottle, as this can facilitate the quick development of bacteria.

● Any prepared, unused formula can stay out for only up to 2 hours, considering that bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature.

● Formula can stay fresh in the fridge for 24 hours if made in a clean bottle and stored immediately. This applies to bottles that have not been in contact with your baby’s mouth.

Safe handling of baby food | The Milky Box

5 Critical Handwashing Steps

As simple as it may seem, handwashing is one of healthcare’s biggest heroes. It can prevent the spread of most diseases and save you from a gastrointestinal infection if performed appropriately. 

If you follow these steps, you can be sure that your baby’s formula is free from bacteria:

1. Start by wetting your hands with fresh, running water. Then, shut off the tap before applying soap.

2. Make a rich lather by vigorously rubbing your hands together with the soap, ensuring that it covers the backs of your hands, the spaces between your fingers, and beneath your fingernails.

3. Scrub your hands meticulously for at least 20 seconds. You can use a timer at the beginning to familiarize yourself with the time needed.

4. Thoroughly rinse your hands under clean, running water to wash away all traces of soap.

5. Finally, dry your hands thoroughly using a hygienic towel.

In Conclusion

In today’s fast-paced world, we’re constantly looking for convenience. While the microwave can be a lifesaver in most situations, it is not ideal for preparing your baby’s formula.

However, there are multiple ways to substitute it and get better, safer results. You can always try out the pan and running water methods and choose the one that best fits your lifestyle.

It should also be highlighted that giving your baby cool or room-temperature milk is always an option, as it has not been linked to any negative effects on your baby. Lastly, preparing your baby’s milk with hygiene and following all the professional recommendations on safe food handling are the best ways to ensure your baby’s food is safe for them.

Remember to visit The Milky Blog for more helpful articles and check out our guide to organic baby formula for the best infant nutrition without sugar, soy, or toxins.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it dangerous to microwave my baby's formula if I swirl the bottle and test the temperature afterward?

Yes. While this may reduce the risk of burns due to more appropriate heat distribution, it’s still not guaranteed that the temperature will be uniform. During the test, you could get a few drops that aren’t hot, but other spots could cause damage. 

For this reason, gentle, slow heat is the best way to go, as this not only prevents overheating but it also distributes heat evenly. 

Is it true that when you heat baby formula, it loses its nutritional value?

No. Many years ago, in the late 90s, there was a myth going around the parenting community that suggested the loss of nutrients due to microwaving, including the degradation of vitamin C and lipids. 

However, multiple studies have been conducted over the last twenty years to try and find evidence of this. It has never shown significant differences in nutritional content after heating, so you can rest assured that your baby is still getting the best out of their bottle.

How many times can baby formula be warmed?

Baby formula should not be reheated more than once, as doing so heightens the risk of bacterial proliferation, especially if your baby has already consumed some from the bottle. If the formula has already been warmed once, it is better to discard any leftovers after two hours from the time of preparation and initial consumption.

What are the signs that the milk is too hot for my baby?

Your baby will show multiple signs of discomfort if the milk is too hot to be comfortable drinking, such as crying, recoiling from the bottle, pushing their hands against it, or refusing to latch onto the bottle’s nipple again. It’s important to watch out for these signs, even if you have tested the milk on your wrist before. 


Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

Dr. Maria Cerino is a medical doctor and a researcher from Mexico, her works being published in prestigious journals like the American Journal of Human Biology among others. As a medical writer, Dr. Cerino focuses on infant nutrition and healthy neurological development in infants and children. In her free time, she enjoys going on walks, watching indie films, and cooking at home.

Leave a Comment:

Comments will be approved before showing up.




Read Next:

Reviewed by Suzanne Renee',

Infant Nutrition Expert

Suzanne Renee' is an accomplished professional with extensive expertise in the area of infant nutrition, dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of children. She started this journey as a foster parent.

Suzanne has emerged as a strong proponent of the European baby formula and has become a full-time writer on the subject. 

In her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking, and going to church.