Warming baby food on the go

How to store and heat baby food on the move

how to guides

First published on Monday 1 August 2016 00:00 BST Last modified on Monday 19 April 2021, 13:32 BST

Lucy Dimbylow


This page contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small amount of money if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our articles and reviews are written independently by the Netmums editorial team.

Once you’re into the swing of parenthood, getting out and about with your baby is relatively easy.

But when you start weaning, you face a whole new challenge: feeding your baby when you’re away from home.

Working out how to keep food fresh on the go, and how to heat it up when it’s dinnertime can be tricky, so read on for the must-know guidelines on travelling with baby food.

Keeping baby food fresh on days out

Many parents, even if they usually cook homemade food for their baby, prefer to use jars or pouches of readymade baby food for days out.

Neatly sealed in sterile containers, they can be kept at room temperature so you don’t need to worry about how to keep them fresh.

If, however, you want to take homemade food out and about, you’ll need an insulated cool bag and some freezer blocks to keep the food at the right temperature.

You can either buy a bag specially designed for transporting baby food, or just use a normal insulated lunch bag, widely available from supermarkets.

1. Baby Polar Gear Little One's Lunch Bag

See more at Amazon

*Insulated cool bag with re-freezable ice pack

*Adjustable shoulder strap with clip to attach to prams

*Also available in blue

This roomy cool bag comes with an ice pack included and has been specifically designed with babies and young children in mind. With a handy pocket on the front, and an adjustable shoulder strap it can be attached to a pram or buggy handle.

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2. Babymoov Airtight Containers (six-pack)

See more at Amazon

*Stackable for storage

*Ideal for travel and days out

*Dishwasher, microwave and steriliser-safe

These air-tight storage pots by Babymoov can be popped into the dishwasher or microwave and come in a handy pack of six. Ideal for travel, they can be stacked for easier storage. They are just what you need to transport your baby's food on days out.

3. Disposable Weaning Bibs (20-pack)

See more at Amazon

*Perfect for meals out and about

*Waterproof backing and crumbcatcher

*Adjustable neck with sticky tabs fastening

Using disposable bibs for days out can be a great idea. We like these brightly coloured ones from Tommee Tippee that come in a pack of 20. They have an adjustable neck that fastens with sticky tabs and waterproof backing and a crumb catcher to keep mess contained.

4. TUM TUM Children's Food Flask

See more at Amazon

*Can be used to keep food hot or cold

*Comes in three attractive designs

*Bpa-free and dishwasher-safe

This flask will keep your baby's food hot for up to five hours, but don’t forget to allow time for it to cool before you feed it to them. It's available in three funky designs and can keep food hot for around five hours.

You’ll also need to remember to pack any snacks your child might need.

Pre-packed snacks like boxes of raisins, cereal bars and packets of rice cakes are ideal for days out, but if you want to take your own snacks, pack them in lidded containers or a special non-spill snack pot: these have flexible lids with an opening that allows your baby to get the snacks out but not tip them everywhere.

Don’t forget to put in cutlery, your baby’s sippy cup and bibs, too; disposable bibs are handy for meals on the move.

How do you keep baby food warm while traveling?

If you don’t think you’ll be able to microwave food on the move, you’ll need to heat it before you leave home.

Heat until it’s piping hot in the microwave, in the container that you want to transport it in (as transferring hot food to a cold pot will immediately start to cool it down).

Put a lid securely on the pot, and then put it inside an insulated lunch bag.

This should keep the food at the temperature required to prevent bacteria growth (60C) for two to four hours.

Don’t put cold food in the same bag as pre-heated food, as neither will stay at the correct temperature.

Before feeding your baby, taste the food yourself to make sure that it’s cooled down to a safe temperature.

The alternative is to invest in a small Thermos flask or travel mug, and put your homemade baby food directly into this.

How do you store baby food on the go?

Getting out and about with a weaning baby might seem like a lot of hassle, but like all parenting routines, the more you practise, the easier it will become.

And with an insulated bag, some freezer blocks and some decent, leak-proof food storage, you’ll soon find that there are no limits to the places you can explore.

The easy way to cope with mealtimes when you’re out and about is to take no-cook food that your baby can eat at room temperature.

This could be a jar or pouch of shop-bought baby food, finger food like sandwiches, or if you’d prefer her to have a fresh meal, you can simply take a ripe banana or avocado and mash it with a fork when it’s time to eat.

Frozen baby food will stay frozen in a cool bag for about six hours, and refrigerated food will also stay cool for that length of time.

Take the food out of the fridge or freezer just before you leave home and put it straight into the bag along with the freezer blocks.

If you’re not sure if you’ll be able to defrost the food on the move, it’s best to do this before you go out.

Make sure your food is stored in airtight pots with close-fitting lids to avoid leaks in your cool bag.

What temperature should baby food be?

Homemade food should be heated until it’s piping hot, so it’s not recommended that you warm it by standing it in a bowl of hot water (although you can do this for jars).

Many restaurants, service stations and family-friendly facilities like soft play centres have microwaves for customer use, or the staff can microwave food for you; if possible, phone ahead to check whether this can be done.

You can also check whether highchairs are available at the same time.

For homemade meals or foods that your baby prefers to eat warm, it’s best to heat the food when you need to use it, if possible.

This helps to reduce the risk of bacteria breeding in the food.

Do you feed baby food warm or cold?

Homemade food should be heated until it’s piping hot, so it’s not recommended that you warm it by standing it in a bowl of hot water (although you can do this for jars).

Many restaurants, service stations and family-friendly facilities like soft play centres have microwaves for customer use, or the staff can microwave food for you; if possible, phone ahead to check whether this can be done.

You can also check whether highchairs are available at the same time.

For homemade meals or foods that your baby prefers to eat warm, it’s best to heat the food when you need to use it, if possible.

This helps to reduce the risk of bacteria breeding in the food.

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Feeding your baby on the go

Getting out and about is good for your baby and good for you, but whereas you used to be able to grab a bottle (or boob!) and run, you’ll now need to be prepared before you leave the house with snacks and possibly the occasional meal.

What works well

Small portions of baby food in sealed plastic tubs travel well and are ideal for newly weaned tots. Puree, mash or chop foods in advance, and then decant the amount you think your baby will eat into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid.

For instant meals that are easy to prepare, you can’t beat a soft banana, avocado or a ripe peach. Take a bowl, spoon and fork with you, and you can peel and mash the fruit on the spot to make a speedy meal for your baby.

Even if you normally prepare your own meals, jars of baby food can be extremely useful when out and about, so don’t feel guilty about it! Also look for small yoghurts and pots of fruit puree which are easy to transport.

What to avoid

Avoid foods that need specific storage or preparation methods for days out. For example, dairy- or meat-based meals aren’t ideal if you’re going to be out all day long, as they should be kept refrigerated. Also avoid anything that is likely to be particularly messy to eat, like spaghetti, and remember that tomato sauce stains terribly.

More like this

Storing and re-heating food

Look for an insulated food bag or container to keep your tot’s food cool on the go. Use ice packs for additional freshness, and store the food bag out of direct sunlight – for example, under the pushchair.

For hot meals, try heating the food so that it’s piping hot just before you leave the house, then keeping it in an insulated food bag. It should have cooled down to a baby-ready temperature by the time you’re ready to serve it. You can also take a flask of hot water, which you can then pour into a bowl and stand a pot of food in to warm it through.

Many venues, particularly child-centred establishments like play centres and family restaurants, will heat food for you if you ask, or provide hot water. Some also have microwaves for you to warm your own baby food.

Great kit for meals on the go

To make eating out with your baby an easier experience, look for:

  • An insulated food bag to keep meals and bottles cool or warm
  • Gel freezer packs to keep food fresh in the cool bag
  • An insulated food flask: these often have a lid which converts into a bowl
  • Small plastic pots for individual portions of food. You can even choose disposable versions for days out
  • Plastic bowls, spoons and beakers
  • A roll-up travel high chair (‘handbag high chair’) or a folding booster seat
  • Roll-up or disposable bibs
  • Nappy sacks for dirty bibs and clothes
  • A packet of wipes

Snacking on the run

Good portable snacks for your newly weaned baby include small rice cakes, soft pieces of fruit that can be mashed and soft baby rusks (check for low sugar varieties). Don’t forget that although she’s eating solids, she’ll still need regular milk feeds – remember to pack a bottle if you think she’ll need one.

Eating out

Follow these golden rules to make eating out with your baby a stress-free experience:

  • If you’re pre-booking, call in advance to see if the restaurant has high chairs and maybe a child-friendly section to sit in
  • Ask about meal choices: many restaurants offer baby purees or branded baby-friendly meals
  • Even if you think there will be something for your baby to eat, take a pot or jar of food just in case
  • If you’re following a baby-led weaning approach, take a look at the adult menus to decide if it will be appropriate to offer food from your plate, bearing in mind that babies shouldn’t have added salt. If in doubt, take your own food
  • Take a few toys for her to play with at the table
  • Be realistic – don’t expect your baby to eat much, or to sit contentedly through a long family meal

The 9 best bottle warmers in 2022

The bottle warmer is a modern accessory that reduces the time for preparing baby food and makes it easier to feed your baby, especially when formula feeding and introducing complementary foods. Today we will talk about how to choose the right device and how to use it. The article contains the best options for heaters of all price segments, different in functionality.

Contents [ show ]

  • What to look for when buying a bottle warmer
    • Warmer types
    • Functional features
  • Best bottle warmer ranking for 2022
    • Sterilizer: Miniland Warmy twin
    • 3. Best premium bottle warmer: Beaba Bib'Expresso New
    • 4. Miniland Warmy travel
    • 5. Beurer BY52
    • 6. CS Medica KIDS CS-21
    • 7. Best budget bottle warmer: Maman LS-B202
    • 8. B.Well WK-133
    • -9007 9. Balio
    • Any questions? We answer!
      • Do I need a bottle warmer?
      • How to replace the bottle warmer?
      • Which bottles to use for the warmer?
    • Summing up

    What to look for when buying a bottle warmer

    Types of heaters

    According to the principle of operation, the devices are divided into 3 groups:

    1. Water heater. The method of heating food is the same as with a homemade water bath in a saucepan, but thanks to uniform heating and temperature control, using a special device is much more convenient.

    According to the temperature of the water on which the devices operate, they are divided into 2 groups:

      1. Hot water heaters. Appliances can heat water up to 80-90°C, so you can warm up baby food in minutes. However, when taking out a hot bottle, it is easy to get burned. Some options are heated up to 100°C: you should not choose these if you want to heat breast milk, as a useful product may lose its properties from contact with too hot water.
      2. Warm water heaters. In such devices, the maximum temperature reaches 50 ° C, so when you take out the bottle, you definitely will not burn your fingers, and the formula for the baby will not be overheated.

    Minus devices for warm water - heating takes 2 times longer.

    1. Steam heating. In such a device there is no direct contact of the bottle with hot water, so the heating is more uniform. However, it will take longer to wait for the mixture to reach the set temperature than when using a classic water heater.
    2. Heater-sterilizer. Such models are more often produced by brands of the premium segment, they combine the functions of heating and sterilizing bottles, and greatly simplify feeding the baby. The 2-in-1 option is worth buying if your baby is formula-fed and you have to heat and sterilize the bottles frequently.

    According to the type of power supply, the heaters are distinguished as stationary - operating only from the mains, and portable - powered by batteries and / or a car cigarette lighter. The latter option is suitable for families who often travel by car with a child.

    Functional features

    Modern baby food warmers are supplemented with useful options for comfortable use. We recommend purchasing a device with the following features:

    • Heating control. With the degree regulator, the food is brought to the desired temperature without overheating.
    • Temperature maintenance. The mixture stays warm for 1-3 hours, so you can quickly feed your baby at night without wasting time preparing meals.
    • Electronic display. The scoreboard shows the presence / absence of water, heating time and other important parameters.
    • Alert. Sound and light signals indicate the completion of heating. A useful option, the main thing is that the sound is not too loud.
    • Auto power off. The safety function turns off the device at a critical drop in the water level and at the end of heating to the set temperature.
    • Extended package. It is convenient when, along with the heater, the manufacturer puts a bottle and tongs in the package for safe removal.

    Even with modern devices with heat control, be sure to taste the heated mixture by dripping it on your wrist. So you will be sure that the baby will not get burned by a too hot product.

    Best bottle warmer ranking for 2022

    1. Best bottle warmer of all: Philips AVENT SCF358/00

    Compare prices

    Why we liked it: is a quality multifunctional device from a well-known manufacturer. Copes well with heating and defrosting all types of baby food.

    Editor's estimate:

    Water heater heats mixtures or purees quickly and evenly, suitable for containers of different sizes and diameters. Philips AVENT is the best bottle warmer with keep warm, auto shut off and defrost breast milk. The case is equipped with a temperature setting regulator, a light indicator of readiness.

    The only unpleasant nuance in the operation of the device is the lack of a liquid level indicator, which is why you have to monitor it yourself, constantly looking inside the case.

    • quickly heats any food;
    • ideal for defrosting breast milk;
    • keeps you warm;
    • easy to use;
    • Ready indicator.
    • the water level is not visible.

    2. Best Sterilizer Warmer: Miniland Warmy twin

    Compare Prices

    Why we like it: The is a modern device with convenient features that combines the properties of a heater and a steam sterilizer, designed to process two bottles at the same time.

    Editor's estimate:

    Miniland has released a modern device for parents that covers all the needs that arise when feeding a child. Water heating quickly brings liquid or ready-made baby food to the right temperature, the defrost mode is suitable for breast milk, and sterilization instantly disinfects the bottles. The device supports the functions of maintaining the temperature, auto-shutdown, and a touch display is provided for control and monitoring of operation.

    The device has light and sound indicators and is characterized by intuitive operation. The case holds 2 bottles at once, which simplifies feeding. Please note that the heater-sterilizer works only from the mains.

    • multifunctional;
    • quality workmanship;
    • quick and efficient operation;
    • touch control;
    • safe operation guarantee.
    • no portability.

    3. Best Premium Bottle Warmer: Beaba Bib'Expresso New

    Compare Prices

    Why we like it: The is the most powerful and fastest bottle warmer on our list that brings water to the ideal temperature for your baby 37°C in just 30 seconds.

    Editor's estimate:

    The purpose of the portable device is to prepare water for formula preparation. The device quickly heats up the liquid and pours it directly into the mixing bottle for a fresh serving of baby food. This option is recognized by parents as the fastest and most convenient - the mother manages to prepare the mixture "on the go" without letting the baby out of her hands. The compact body and light weight make the heater an indispensable assistant at home and when traveling. Thanks to the ergonomic design, the device is easy to care for.

    An important caveat - Beaba Bib Expresso New only heats water, so it is not suitable for heating ready-made purees and other complementary foods.

    • fast operation;
    • comfortable design;
    • stylish design;
    • portable apparatus;
    • is easy to clean.
    • is not suitable for heating cereals and purees.

    4. Miniland Warmy travel

    Compare prices

    Why we like it: is the best travel bottle warmer. The most simple and ergonomic device with high build quality.

    Editor's estimate:

    The device works without water and plugs into the car's cigarette lighter. The device is suitable for all types of bottles, has an auto-off function. It is quite powerful, heats up a standard portion in 2 minutes. The set includes a durable zippered case-tube that protects the body from damage.

    Please note that the appliance does not have a ready indicator and no thermoregulation capability. At the same time, he does his job well and helps out his parents while traveling.

    • handheld;
    • auto-off;
    • fast heating;
    • is convenient to take on a trip.
    • reduced functionality.

    5. Beurer BY52

    Compare prices

    Why we liked it: is a quality product from a premium German brand that has electronic control, convenient functionality and a safe bottle ejection mechanism.

    Editor's estimate:

    The modern water bottle warmer is equipped with a reliable thermostat with a temperature range of 35-85°C. It quickly heats up the food to the set parameters, turns off on its own, and retains heat for several hours. The device is suitable for all types of bottles, has a light indicator and a convenient electronic display. For greater safety, the heater is equipped with an elevator that allows you to remove the container without burning your fingers.

    Device without serious drawbacks, but minor flaws are revealed during operation. The device has only one temperature adjustment button, therefore, in order to reduce the degrees, they reach the maximum, and start over.

    • reliable thermoregulation;
    • safe removal of bottles;
    • auto-off function;
    • temperature support.
    • inconvenience during operation.

    6. CS Medica KIDS CS-21

    Compare Prices

    Why we love it: The is a portable travel warmer that runs on your car's cigarette lighter and requires no water. Maintains the desired temperature for up to 3 hours.

    Editor's estimate:

    The mobile version of the warmer is designed for parents who often carry small children in the car for long periods of time. The device works from the car network, quickly and evenly warms up the contents of the bottle, thanks to the thermal bag it retains heat for up to 3 hours. The stylish and compact device is packed into a convenient case for safe storage.

    Please note that the KIDS CS-21 model is receiving negative feedback from parents who are dissatisfied with the rapid failure of the equipment. If possible, consider the more expensive and reliable Miniland portable heater options.

    • maintains temperature;
    • compact;
    • quickly heats baby food;
    • hard case included.
    • short-lived device.

    7. Best budget bottle warmer: Maman LS-B202

    Compare prices

    Why we like it: is a classic budget water bottle warmer that maintains temperature and fits all containers.

    Editor's estimate:

    Stationary bottle and baby food warmer is mains-operated, temperature-controlled and temperature-controlled. The device works on mechanical control, according to the classical principle of water heating, equipped with a light indicator. Bottles of any size are placed in the device, so you do not have to buy special containers.

    Please note that the temperature controller fails rather quickly, and this makes it difficult to further operate the heater. Without temperature control, the device heats the liquid to a boil.

    • available option;
    • easy to use;
    • heats up quickly;
    • for all types of bottles.
    • short-lived thermostat.

    8. B.Well WK-133

    Compare prices

    Why we like it: The is a reliable stationary heater with the most important features, easy to use.

    Editor's estimate:

    Being in the same price segment as Beurer, the heater is inferior to it in terms of functionality and build quality. The device works on the principle of a water bath, heats bottles and baby food in a wide temperature range - from 40 ° C to boiling. For thermoregulation, a mechanical switch is provided, in addition, there is a light indicator of readiness and the ability to maintain temperature.

    The B.Well heater is small in size and designed only for narrow bottles, so you will have to buy a special container for this device.

    • large temperature range;
    • keeps you warm;
    • heating indicator;
    • simple operation.
    • only for narrow bottles.

    9. Balio LS-B07

    Compare prices

    Why we love it: The is an easy-to-use, small bottle warmer that's inexpensive but comes with full standard functionality.

    Editor's estimate:

    A democratic version of the heater, which slightly exceeds the price of the most budget product in our rating - Maman LS-B202. These devices are similar to each other in terms of control type, functionality and heating mode. The main difference is that the model only works with bottles of no more than 300 ml, while the device from Maman is more versatile. The device quickly heats the water to the desired temperature, turns itself off, maintains heat in the bottle for 2-3 hours.

    • keeps warm;
    • easy to use;
    • auto-off function.
    • warms bottles up to 300 ml.

    Any questions? We answer!

    Do I need a bottle warmer?

    Of course, this device can not be attributed to the essentials, but it makes life a lot easier for new parents. A warmer is recommended if you plan to feed your baby with formula or expressed breast milk. In the early months, you will have frequent night feedings, so the keep warm function is very useful to ensure that the mixture is always ready for use.

    If the baby is fully breastfed, and the heater is planned only for warming up complementary foods, then there is no urgent need to purchase. In this case, the food is heated less often, so it is better to save money by using alternative methods of heating.

    How to replace the bottle warmer?

    If such a device is not yet available, heat baby food in the following ways:

    1. Microwave oven. Put glass jars with baby puree in the microwave or heat water to prepare the mixture. To prevent the product from getting too hot, the heating power and time are selected experimentally. Since microwave ovens tend to heat food unevenly, be sure to mix the puree well. Please note that it is not recommended to heat expressed breast milk in the microwave - under the action of microwaves, proteins are destroyed and beneficial microflora dies.
    2. Water bath. This old and proven method is used for both breast milk and formulas, complementary foods and other baby foods. Water is heated in a saucepan until hot (not boiling!), Then a bottle of milk or formula is placed in it. It will take approximately 5 minutes to heat food from the refrigerator, and at least 15 minutes to defrost.
    3. Running water. This is the most inconvenient and time consuming method, but it will come in handy if you and your baby are not at home, without access to a stove or microwave. A bottle of nutrition is placed under the tap, gradually increasing the temperature of the water - from slightly warm to hot. To speed up the process, shake the contents while the mixture heats up.

    It is easy to overheat and even boil the mixture in a microwave or water bath, so you need to constantly control the temperature.

    Which bottles to use for the warmer?

    It is convenient when the warmer is completed with an ideally sized bottle made of heat-resistant safe materials. But more often parents use other containers, and they need to be chosen carefully.

    2 bottles available for warming and storing baby food:

    1. Glass. Durable, easy to clean and sterilize, do not emit harmful substances when heated. The disadvantages include: high weight, the risk of cracks on the glass with a sharp temperature drop, prolonged heating of the mixture.
    2. Plastic. Plastic bottles are light, practical, withstand temperature extremes, but they quickly become unusable and wash worse. Poor-quality material releases toxic substances when heated.

    Avoid BPA, a dangerous toxin and carcinogen, in baby bottle plastic.

    Summing up

    If you have the opportunity to buy a bottle warmer, be sure to use it. You will immediately notice that it has become much easier and faster to feed your baby with formula or give complementary foods, and you will have some time to relax. In the ranking, we have collected models for different budgets and needs, so every family will find the best option for themselves.

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