Thoughts on warming milk in the NICU

  1. 0
    I am looking to you all for your honest thoughts.

    We have been looking at the Medela Waterless Warmers for our unit and for the most part, thought they were fine. We decided to be fiscally responsible and trial the Penguin warmer just to see how we liked it and do a cost comparison so we could determine what we could and couldn't afford seeing as both require purchases of liners (Medela's are 100 to case for approx $3.00 per liner and the Penguin comes 300 to a case and I think about $1.10 to $1.20 per liner).

    We were leaning towards Medela because it's waterless even though we LOVED how well the Penguin worked and it was very quiet (Medela's had a loud hum to it). I just learned today while doing some research as I have to make up my mind that the high heat required by Medela's system (heater coil and fan) blows hot air (150 to 170 degrees) directly on top of the bottle has the potential for introducing harmful chemicals to the baby’s feeding. If I am not mistaken I believe that 120°F is considered highly suspect for causing extractables. I also know that the top of the bottle is always hotter than the bottom when coming out of the Medela unit, which means there is no way that this unit can be the warming the bottles to the same temperature throughout. YIKES! I guess I never considered the implications of blowing hot air on top of plastic and the fact that the unit is pulling air, from our hospital, into the system and blowing airborne germs around the feeding.

    My staff is 75/25 split on who likes what (most prefer the Penguin) but I want to know what you all are using and how many of these things are you ordering? What about the liners - how many do you order?

    Get the hottest topics every week!

    Subscribe to our free Nursing Insights newsletter.

  2. 18 Comments...

  3. 0
    Yikes! i had no idea the liners were that expensive! You're supposed to change them out qfeed at my facility--the penguin ones.

    I like them okay, no real complaints.

    Curious why you need liners for the medela ones if it's waterless? How much more expensive are they?

    It never ceases to amaze me how much $$ there is in health care.
  4. 0
    If I am not mistaken (I am at home now without my notes in front of me) but the Penguin liners would save me approximately $2 per liner over Medela. I think it's like $1.10 versus $3.00. Need the liner in Medela to help keep unit clean since it deals with liquid. Both Medela and Penguin liners are single patient use.

    I'm leaning toward the Penguin the more I read about the scientific based evidence behind it and it really is the most reliable in terms of heating, avoiding hot spots etc...I also like the vibration aspect to it. Keeps all the good lipids etc..within the mixture, especially when going from frozen to thaw to warm.

    A colleague just emailed and said that the Medela isn't compatible with all makes and models of bottles (i.e. Milk bank glass bottles) and she said they have used glass bottles in their Penguins before.

    Being such a huge expenditure I just need to make the right choice.
  5. 0
    We are currently trialing the Penguin warmers on our unit. The rep who did the in-service told us that the liners can be used for a whole shift - up to 12 hours. She said they recently changed this from q feed changing. I wish they were good for 24 hours, as I feel very guilty throwing away so much plastic.
  6. 0
    We are trialing the Penguins and have had no problems with them...and we will have to go with them because of cost (we are low bid). We will make the liners a charge item per our purchasing. We use one liner per shift.
  7. 0
    Quote from NicuGal
    We are trialing the Penguins and have had no problems with them...and we will have to go with them because of cost (we are low bid). We will make the liners a charge item per our purchasing. We use one liner per shift.
    I am now 100% convinced that the Penguin is the right choice for babies. I don't trust the Medela unit at all. All the research I have put into this has me wanting nothing else and my staff seems pleased. Now I do have a question, I was told we can't charge for liners because it's not a "standard" thing insurance pays for. I would love to know how you are doing it through purchasing. Are you part of a big health system? How many beds do you have? I would love to make this a charge item because then I could purchase more Penguins (ideally I would love to have 1 for every two beds but I can't afford that). Would love insight so I can share with my purchasing department.
  8. 0
    we use penguins, can't tell you how they're charged though. We have 56 beds and every patient has their own warmer, we change the liners q shift.
  9. 1
    Can I ask a really dumb question? I'm a postpartum nurse who gets floated to NICU. All I've ever seen used to heat a bottle of breast milk or formula is a large Styrofoam cup of hot water. Yes, there is the possibility of a spill, but that hardly ever happens. The NICU has practical places that are good for placing the cup-and-bottle arrangement that are stable and wouldn't allow damage or a big mess if something did spill.

    It's low tech and much less expensive. No hot spots. The cups are disposable. If the bottle is placed in the cup before baby gets changed and has vitals done, it's ready at just the right time.

    This is how we heat bottles for the fussy ones on postpartum, too, although most just get room temperature milk.

    I'm confused about why such expensive units need to be purchased. This is a serious inquiry, not a joke or a criticism.

    Thanks in advance.
    Bortaz, RN likes this.
  10. 1
    I supposed because we have large quantities of frozen milk (since many NICU babies don't eat right away) and that probably takes longer to defrost in just a cup & water, plus once thawed you only have 24 hours to use it so you can't really take a bunch of bottles out of the freezer and stick them in the fridge...just my thoughts

    plus at my hospital if you waited around for the water to get hot the kid might never eat! (I sometimes heat up bath water in the penguin warmer because it's seriously that bad from the tap to get hot water)
    rn/writer likes this.
  11. 1
    Quote from rn/writer

    I'm confused about why such expensive units need to be purchased. This is a serious inquiry, not a joke or a criticism.
    Absolutely a legitimate question. I don't know about other units, but the unit where I work had an issue with an infectious outbreak. Though it could never be proved (all water sources and sites were cultured), it was felt that city water could not be trusted to come into contact with milk bottles or on infant's faces or mouths (even for routine bathing).

    Until we got the medela warmers, the only option for warming cold milk was to set the feed in an infant's isolette if one was lucky. Also, some areas (not all), had a warming cabinet, but it took approximately 1 minute per ml to adequately warm a cold feed.

    Thawing frozen milk was a particularly long and frustrating process taking hours (usually 2-3 hours for a full bottle). We were only allowed to set the bottle out on the counter, or place it in a fresh biohazard bag inside a graduate container and then we could fill the container with room temperature sterile water, which in my opinion held the cold in and made the process longer.

    Now we may use the medela warmers for thawing also, though I haven't done it yet.
    rn/writer likes this.

Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors