How to Heat Baby Milk/formula in the Microwave.

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Introduction: How to Heat Baby Milk/formula in the Microwave.

Everybody knows you're not supposed to heat breast milk or formula in the microwave. Why not? The top two reasons usually cited are 1) it kills nutrients, which is scientifically unfounded, unless you're leaving it in there for 20 minutes, or 2) it creates hot spots, which can scald baby, which would be slightly plausible if we weren't talking about a liquid, which is going to have convection currents and is going to be thoroughly mixed long before it gets to baby's mouth.

No, the only real reason not to heat milk in the microwave is also the best one: because if you do, your baby's momma will kill you. She read all those reports on the internets and she doesn't believe your scientific mumbo-jumbo about upwelling for a minute.

So what's Daddy to do when baby is crying for food and Mommy's out at yoga? Just running hot water from the tap over the bottle takes forever and wastes a lot of water. It takes a while for the water to get hot and then most of the heat is just running down the drain.

Step 1: Heat Some Water in a Measuring Cup.

Grab the nearest Pyrex measuring cup. Put a couple ounces of tap water into it. Use the hot tap but don't wait for it to actually get hot--junior is hungry and time's a' wastin'! Stick the cup in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. You don't need a lot of water, because the bottle is going to displace a lot. You don't need a lot of time because, well, this is what microwaves are made for!

Step 2: Insert Bottle.

Stick the bottle in the cup of hot water. Swirl it around. After a few minutes, check the temperature by doing that thing they do on TV and in the movies, which you always wanted to do in real life: squirt some milk on your wrist to see how warm it is.

Step 3: Enjoy!

Serve warm. Makes 1 serving.

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    55 Comments

    Thank you author..! I couldn't find any article with proper scientific backing for why microwave cannot be used on breast milk either..! but apparently, my wife could flash out a pamphlet from the hospital advises against microwave (yes, lost that one, sigh). My thinking: maybe, microwave damages the immune cells found in beast milk (due to heat spots) believed to be helpful to babies. I think there are many factors in breast milk which are not yet understood (which is why formula milk cannot give babies the same benefits as breast milk - we don't know how to replicate artificial breast milk exactly)

    No, the reason for not heating formula in a microwave is because research shows that it can lead to increased risk of severe ear infections in toddlers and infants.

    1 reply

    what if i mix the formula in 100 degree and let it cool down?

    I had 5 sets of ear infections with tubes followed by equilibrium imbalance in the inner ear, when I was little. I am pretty sure that heating formula in a microwave helped that happen.

    2 replies

    i'm pretty sure you're totally wrong.

    I'm pretty sure, you are totally correct . The toaster gave me cancer. lol

    Before reading my comments below, let me first say this is a good recommendation! Whether you believe in the evils of microwaves or not, this is surely an appropriate way to work around someone else's concerns without dismissing or ignoring them. Having said that...

    For one of the "reasons" not to microwave formula, you cited, "it creates hot spots," and debunked with and argument about convection currents in liquid. While quite true in principle, it doesn't necessarily apply to this case.

    Microwaving anything will induce hotspots, just because of the way microwaves are generated and bounce around inside the enclosure.
    You are (hopefully!) not heating the formula to very much above body temperature (not more than ~100-105F) or you can scald the baby's mouth. In such a case, the temperature differences between hot and cold regions are less likely to induce good convective flow, and so the hotspots can persist for a substantial time. Also, formula is thicker than water, which reduces the development of convection on short timescales (viscous inertia); you can verify this by heating a bowl of canned cream-style soup in a Pyrex cup.

    For both reasons, rather than rely on convection, you really do need to manually mix the heated formula, and check the temperature after mixing. A good approach is to heat in very short steps (5-10 seconds at a time), mixing and checking at each step. This is sufficiently slow and awkward, especially when the young one is getting impaTIENT!!! :-O, that it is really not worth the hassle.

    2 replies

    I have a bottle warmer that you plug into the wall .. it has water in it.. when the light goes off I check the formula.... swilr it in the botlte then check again and it's usually always perfect then it warmed and ready AND fully nutritious for our precious one :D thakews about 3 mins.. don't see what all this fuss is about.....

    Right! That is a proper conduction warmer (it's basically just a double boiler). That is absolutely the best method.

    The point of this posting is that microwave ovens do not heat _anything_ uniformly. It's not a big deal for adults, who have (a) better tolerance and take less damage from overly-hot food, and (b) have learned what to do if they eat something too hot. Infants, as you well know, don't have either those skills or that tissue protection.

    The last time someone heated a babys bottle in my microwave, the whole thing exploded and blew the door off, very frightening for all concerned since the microwave was on top of the fridge, ie head height, and it was lucky no one was seriously hurt. The explainantion most people have is that the bottles teat got blocked.

    1 reply

    the bottle had the nipple on it in the microwave??? no wonder

    I agree with the microwave thing, just because it's a funny thing for food to get hot without fire...my fiance and I just recently had a baby this winter, and because of chemo and a c-section, I was unable to produce enough milk to breastfeed for more than 3 weeks...so, unfortunately, we had to start her on formula. In the middle of winter when she wakes up hungry, it is hard to wait until the bottle is warm from warming it in the mug(as we started out doing). We then had an epiphany! We live in a big old house with huge square furnace vents on the floor, one being next to her bed. We keep the jugs of Nursery Water sitting on top of the vent, so it's always about 68 degrees when we pour it into the bottle for feeding. No microwave. No waiting. It's always the perfect temp and it makes our lives a whole lot easier when she is demanding the food:) At night, I make up 3-4 bottles with the nursery water already in it (no formula) and set them on top of the furnace vent....so they're ready to go when we need them!

    1 reply

    BRILLIANT!! and convenient that your house is built that way :D

    What you say is reasonable. But I also find this (without check the source):

    http://www.wddty.com/03363800368955544801/do-not-heat-milk-in-a-microwave-oven.html

    Do not heat milk in a microwave oven

    Heating or thawing human milk by microwave causes a decrease in the level of anti infective factors in the milk, even when low temperatures (20-53¡C) are used (Pediatrics, 1992; 89: 667-9).

    In one study, conducted at Stanford University in California, microwaving at higher than 72¡C was found to cause a considerable decrease in all the tested anti infective factors. The Stanford researchers strongly rejected the use of microwaving, even at low temperatures, of human milk in hospitals.Another study, carried out in Vienna, found that microwave cooking induced high rates of change in food proteins that were not observed after conventional cooking. D-proline and cis-D-hydroxyproline were found in significant quantities in microwave heated infant milk formulas, whereas only L-proline is normally found in biological material.

    (L stands for laevo-rotary, D for dextro-rotary, referring to the direction electrons rotate in their plane of optical polarisation.)

    Lubec and his colleagues warned that "the conversion of trans to cis forms could be hazardous because when cis-amino acids are incorporated into peptides and proteins instead of their trans isomers, this can lead to structural, functional, and immunological changes" (Lancet, 1989; 9: 1392-3).

    Other research has also found that microwaving infant formula can produce molecular changes in the amino acids in milk proteins, causing toxicity or affecting the nutritional value of the milk formula. Nevertheless, the quantity of proteins changed was very small (J Am Coll Nutr, 1994; 13: 209-10).

    1 reply

    thats for all the hard facts!!!! GREAT info is so refreshing ;)

    how bout if you heat the water first in the microwave then add the powdered milk after? is that safe?

    1 reply

    I beleive so... I don't see why not.. as long as its in a glass bottle ;)

    well James, don't give you're Kids/plants remote control cars, play walkie talkies, mobile phones which all use the same part of the electromagnetic spectrum as microwaves, I've set up an actual experimental design to test you're theory (more scientific than anecdotal evidence) , I brought two Peace lilies, feeding them the same amount of water, one i am giving one tap water, and the other the same tap water but put in the microwave on high for 3 minutes FYI I used a 800watt microwave, we are 4 days into the trial now, and no notable difference between the two, after this week i shall next week give the one thats been having regular tap water the microwave water and visa versa, just to see what happens (nothing i suspect)

    2 replies

    Interesting approach to testing the affects of nuking a source of nutrition.... IF I'm not mistaken a plant gets it's nutrition from mostly the soil that it grows in ...... so nuking the water I don't suspect that you WOULD see a different in the growth of your peace lilies... maybe nuking the soil you plant them in would show different results......just saying :)

    four days? not much time. Now you're gonna switch. of course you won't see results.