When my wife and I learned we were going to have a baby, we did what a lot of new parents do: We bought too many things, and not necessarily the affordable versions — the quick-fold urban stroller, the infant tub with the unnecessary temperature gauge, the slide-top diaper pail I nicknamed Fortress of Soil-itude. And then there was the bottle warmer, chosen for its vaguely German name and sleek design, and in spite of its $70 price tag. Big mistake.
We’ve recently taken a step back in form and a giant leap forward in function with Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Deluxe, a $32 warmer that is everything its predecessor wasn’t: bulky, aesthetically uninspiring — like a smoothie maker you’d see on a late-night infomercial or the thermos from your third-grade lunchbox — and really, really good at its job.
Unlike some other warmers that heat bottles in a water bath, Dr. Brown’s uses a steam chamber. It’s like a sauna for Similac. The result: No more puddles on the countertop and, even better, more consistently heated-through formula in less time. There’s no temperature setting to mess with. An eight-ounce bottle of refrigerated milk takes four minutes and 20 seconds in Dr. Brown’s to become ideally suited for drinking; it took twice as long in our old model. From there, you just perform that squirt-a-bit-on-the-back-of-the-hand trick. If it doesn’t burn but doesn’t feel cold, you got it right.
A piece of advice for all parents-to-be: When it’s 2:30 a.m. and your ravenous infant is screaming bloody murder, you will not stare down at your bottle warmer and compliment yourself on how handsome it looks next to your Kees van der Westen espresso maker (or heck, even next to your Nespresso). You will think, “Can’t this effing thing go any faster?” That’s the other thing I appreciate: its precise digital display, so you can count the seconds, or just pretend that you’re deactivating a time bomb. Because when it comes to hungry babies, that’s pretty much what you’re doing.
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