Babies can be so inconsolable when they are hungry. You could try everything from rocking them to singing lullabies and they won’t stop crying until you feed them.
When I had my first baby, I had no idea how much joy she would bring to us. Equally surprising was having some not-so-joyful feelings too. The most notable among them are the feelings of anxiety and cluelessness, which heightens when the baby starts to cry incessantly. It is even worse when it seems to take forever to warm the food or sterilize the bottle in which you’ll pour the food.
I know what it feels like to have a hungry baby on your hands and not know what to do. You’re cracking your brain thinking;
Do I ignore the crying and follow the route I know is safer for the baby or do I take the path of least resistance and put the baby’s bottle in the microwave?
In this article, we will answer whether you should microwave a plastic baby bottle – the whys and why not. We will also review any other alternatives and what safety precautions to take.
CAN YOU MICROWAVE A PLASTIC BABY BOTTLE?
It is not advised to microwave a plastic baby bottle. Yes, I said it. The risk of burning your baby’s mouth or throat is too great and not worth it. Even if you’re merely sterilizing the bottle in the microwave, it is still risky. There have been too many concerns raised about the use of plastics in the microwave.
Here’s why. A microwave tends to heat unevenly. Your baby’s plastic bottle can be misleading, as it can feel cool on the outside, meanwhile, the temperature inside is high enough to cause harm.
Additionally, microwaving baby food can create heat pockets in the food, which may scald the baby’s mouth.
Again, since the bottle is closed, how would you know if it doesn’t have a build-up of steam inside? How do you know that when you open the bottle, it won’t explode? There are stories about children who have burns on their skins, who had to spend several weeks in the hospital, just because their plastic bottles were microwaved. Regrettable, right?
When considering whether you should put your baby’s plastic in the microwave, remember this story and ask yourself, is it worth it?
IS IT SAFE TO MICROWAVE A PLASTIC BABY BOTTLE?
The idea of putting plastic in a microwave is already a course for concern to adults, how much more when it comes to babies?
It is worthy of note that the American Association of Pediatrics has warned parents against putting plastic baby bottles, toddler plates, sippy cups, and any other plastic used to feed babies, in the microwave or dishwasher, owing to the possibility of exposing the children to harm. Furthermore, they solicited policies that would provide tougher safety regulations to prevent potential harm.
According to them, most plastic food packages contain Bisphenols (BPA), phthalates, and nitrates, which are substances considered harmful to the precious little ones.
You don’t just have to take my word for it.
Here’s a quote from their report which was published recently by AAP; “Since heat can cause plastics to leak BPA and phthalates into food, avoid microwaving food or beverages (including infant formula and pumped human milk) in plastic when possible.”
However, there are exceptions. There are instances where using the microwave is your last resort. In those cases, make sure to use BPA-free plastic bottles so that your kid is not subject to the dangers of having certain harmful chemical compounds in the bloodstream.
When deciding whether to microwave a plastic baby bottle, you must consider if the plastic bottle is microwavable. With plastic, the risk is even escalated if you do not use a microwave-safe plastic bottle on medium heat and for nothing more than a minute, if not, the bottle can get burnt.
Also, microwaving breast milk could result in overheating, which normally results in the loss or damage of natural immune rehabilitating properties and loss of vitamins and minerals.
HOW TO MICROWAVE A PLASTIC BABY BOTTLE?
In light of the foregoing, dear reader, if you decide to microwave your baby’s plastic bottle, be sure to educate yourself because knowledge is power. There are a few measures that you must take while exercising great caution and awareness to prevent the perceived dangers.
When microwaving a plastic baby bottle, make sure that the bottle is microwave-safe and is not filled to the brim. You also need to place the bottle in an upstanding position. Then microwave it for not more than 15 – 30 seconds, depending on the wattage of your microwave and the content of the bottle. Remember, you can’t cover the bottle or you’ll risk the occurrence of an explosion. This could be harmful to you, the baby, and the microwave.
Now, after the first few seconds, cover the bottle and shake it thoroughly to prevent uneven heating, then check the temperature to know if it is appropriate for the baby. You could do this the old-fashioned way; by putting some of the contents on your tongue or the back of your wrist to feel the temperature.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU MICROWAVE A PLASTIC BABY BOTTLE?
You can microwave a 4-ounce bottle for as long as 30 seconds and no more. For an 8-ounce bottle, you can microwave it for as long as 45 seconds and no more.
In a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Assistant Professor of Nutrition, Madeleine Sigman-Grant and some researchers at Pennsylvania State University carried out extended testing on the subject. They microwaved baby formula for 40 seconds and 1 minute, using both glass and plastic bottles. After measuring for riboflavin and Vitamin C, both before and after microwaving it, they found that the nutritional value of the formula was consistent.
A more generic answer would be that you can microwave a plastic baby bottle for only a few seconds. The truth is, there is no straightforward answer. How long you microwave the plastic depends on the size of the bottle, the quantity of the content and how powerful the microwave is.
ALTERNATIVES TO MICROWAVING A PLASTIC BABY BOTTLE
Everyone agrees that plastic baby bottles are not the best for microwaving, so of course, I’m going to give you some alternatives you can opt for when the going gets tough.
- Warm Water: you can put the bottle into hot water for a few minutes. This traditional way of warming baby food requires no equipment and does the job effortlessly.
- Bottle Warmer: This is an easy and fast way to warm baby formula or breastmilk. Just touch a button and voila, you have the exact temperature you want.
- Tap Water: Sometimes, all you need is to hold the bottle over running water. Make sure you adjust the temperature of the water so it is not too hot and does not overheat the food.
- Sterilizer: If your aim for putting the bottle in the microwave is to clean it, you should use a sterilizer that depends on electricity for its steam. If that is not available, you could choose to boil the bottle in hot water.
PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE WHEN MICROWAVING A PLASTIC BABY BOTTLE
Now that you know you’ve got options; the ball is in your court. If you decide to microwave your baby’s plastic bottle, there are a few things you should have at the back of your mind during the process, so that you can be as safe as possible.
- The first defense is to be clean. Wipe your microwave and wash your hands. The baby deserves optimum hygiene.
- Remember to use microwave-safe and BPA-free plastics for your baby. If the plastic bottle you choose to use for your baby is unsafe, during heating, it may leach harmful chemicals into the food.
- Be diligent. Read the labels, check and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and allow yourself to be aided by the warnings.
- When microwaving, keep your baby away from the microwave and safe from anything that may occur around it. This is non-negotiable considering the risks involved.
For example, if you remove the bottle from the microwave and open it immediately, there could be an explosion because of the powerful steam trapped inside the bottle. The explosion could spill the contents out of the bottle and unto the baby’s body. This could cause serious burns and long-lasting scars on the baby.
- Don’t microwave a plastic baby bottle with the lid on, so that the steam can ventilate. This prevents two things; one, an explosion, and two, uneven heating – which causes the food to have hot spots that could scald the baby’s mouth.
- Don’t forget to check the temperature of the food before feeding the baby to be sure that it is safe for the child.
- Make sure the bottle is in a standing position while microwaving and after, shake the bottle to eliminate hot spots, so you can achieve an even temperature.
- Finally, I know you’re probably double-tasking, but don’t lose sight of the microwave while the bottle is in. Check that you are not microwaving for too long and that the microwave is not set to the wrong power level.
Microwaves are the best thing after sliced bread. Everyone loves them for the ease and convenience they afford. Especially for new parents who are often strapped for time, they can be a lifesaver.
When it comes to the safety of your baby though, you need to be super careful. As a parent, you may have legitimate reasons to shun the arguments against microwaving plastic baby bottles. As they say, “only a mother knows.”
However, here are my two cents – it is better to err on the side of caution. Microwaving plastic bottles should only be done as a last resort and even then, you should take optimum care to follow all the safety precautions and tips set down in this article.