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Out and about when you don't lactate (or choose not to)

So one of the harder things for partners of breastfeeding moms (and to a similar degree, parents of formula fed children, see below for why I make the distinction) is the logistics of taking the kid out to the park, library, music class, etc.

You may have developed a routine for heating and prepping milk at home, but how the heck do you do this without a kettle, making a mess, or trying to explain why you want a cup of hot water but no teabag at whatever sandwich shop you stopped at when the crying begins, especially if you don't want a sandwich right now (see: crying)?

Ok, so what do we need?
  • - bottle, preferably with milk already in it
  • - milk, if not in bottle already
  • - heat
  • - contained place to apply heat to bottle


By now, you probably have a pretty good mental accounting of how long it takes your bottles to heat (and doubly so if you own multiple models). Our daycare only takes plastic bottles, but we have a small collection of glass ones for use at home for exactly this reason. Glass bottles heat much faster and as every non-lactating parent knows, every extra second listening to your kid scream is no fun. As they get bigger and recognize that "THIS IS A BOTTLE RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, I WILL GRAB FOR THE BOTTLE BECAUSE I AM HUNGRY AND DON'T UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF BOILING WATER," this gets only worse. For those of you out-and-about with your first kid, this is exacerbated when out in public (I cringed at every cry in a cafe, on the train, and even in the park. Especially when "well-meaning" old ladies started with their "advice.") I'm getting better with the second, though.  I figure if he hasn't puked on anyone else, we're good.

Anyway, we'll eventually write a post on bottle recommendations (we use the Evenflo Feeding Classic Glass Twist Bottles) but really just go with what works with your pump and baby's disposition.


The easiest thing is, of course, to store the milk in the bottle before you leave the house, but sometimes you gotta go with a bag (for example, from your freezer stash). You can read about our freezer bag preferences here.


So now we're at the crux of this all. Boiling water in a kettle and pouring it into a large cup or bowl is how we do this at home.  But, reliable access to boiling water was not something I wanted to count on in the park.

We tried some open-and-they-heat-up pad things, but found them to be garbage. (They advertised they wouldn't burn you because they only go to body temperature.  However, something at body temp takes a LONG time to warm up something that's cold or frozen.  Plus it was very slow to get TO body temp. My wife is the scientist here, but even I know enough thermodynamics to know this won't work). 

So if hot water is what we want, how about a thermos? That brings us to...

Place to Heat the Bottle

While any old thermos would surely work to transport hot water, we found the Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle and Food Warmer to be really useful because the lid over the main thermos part a) helps keep the whole thing relatively cool inside the diaper bag, b) contains spills if you have some leakage, which you shouldn't, and c) serves as a cup you can pour the water into to immerse your bottle and heat it! So for the size/weight of a normal thermos, you get all the stuff you need.

The only complaint is that you have to PAY ATTENTION to the open/close positions on the lid. It's the opposite of what is intuitive and I have poured scalding hot water on myself (or into the lid) a few times. Being a "safety culture" kind of guy, I now verify I have it in the closed position by turning it to a pouring position over the sink before I pack it in the diaper bag.

Could you just use a normal thermos and a cup? Yeah. Is it slightly expensive for a thermos and lid? Yeah. But it's extremely convenient and $20 is pretty cheap for the sanity it enables.

You said something about formula

We've not formula-fed, so I have no specific suggestions, but I do add the following thoughts:
  1. 1. There is a ton of formula-specific gear out there that looks pretty cool when I've seen other parents use it.

  2. 2. My understanding is that heating to body temperature is not necessary for exclusively formula-fed babies.  This is because breastfed babies are used to receiving milk at body temperature for obvious reasons.  If you introduce formula early enough, most babies can and do get used to drinking it at room temperature.  This certainly simplifies the feeding process.
That said, if you do find yourself in need of a way to heat things, this has been our go-to solution.

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