Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine – is it Really Necessary?
Now here’s a product which receives rave reviews from customers and has won several mother and baby awards. The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine is the gadget that formula feeding parents covet the most, and if your budget allows for it, I would definitely recommend considering purchasing it if you are planning on formula feeding your baby. But I’m here to play devil’s advocate and to highlight both sides of the argument for and against the machine, so that you can decide it’s it’s worth it for you.
Firstly, I have to explain that my son was exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and then we moved onto specialist prescription formula which was not able to be prepared using the Perfect Prep Machine, so I have no direct experience of prolonged use of the product. However, our best friends were using the machine for their bottle fed daughter and so I have seen it in action on many occasions, and had many discussions with them and other formula feeding mummies to gain their perspectives.
What are the advantages of the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine?
Speed of bottle preparation
I can vividly remember the early newborn days. There’s no routine, no knowing when your baby will need their next feed, but when they do, I can guarantee that your baby will wail inconsolably like a shrieking banshee until that first drop of milk hits their tummy. If you’re not breastfeeding, you are going to want to know the fastest way to prepare your baby’s bottle, and the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine could be the answer for you, since that is it’s prime selling feature.
The Perfect Prep Machine will prepare your baby’s bottle to the perfect drinking temperature within two minutes, this is compared to preparing a bottle according to the NHS/Unicef guidelines, which could take up to 15 minutes to achieve the required temperature. Believe me that 15 minutes of screaming infant versus two minutes of screaming infant is a HUGE difference. If you’re never held a screaming baby for 15 minutes, it actually feels like 15 hours when you’re the one holding the baby!
Ease of bottle preparation
The other beauty of the Perfect Prep Machine is that with a little advance preparation on your part, when it comes to making the bottle. You can fill the water container with cold tap water prior to use. You can measure out your formula into a sterile formula container prior to use. So then how do you make the bottle?
- Select the size of the feed between 4oz and 11oz (120ml – 320ml)
- Place sterilised bottle under the dispenser and press start to dispense the hot shot
- Take bottle off the stand and pour in measured amount of formula
- Fix lid onto bottle and shake well to mix
- Remove lid, place bottle back under dispenser and press start to dispense filtered cold water
- Take bottle from stand, fix teat onto bottle, give bottle a swirl to mix the water and then it’s ready to feed
It’s really that simple. You can also see that there’s a benefit from pre-measuring your formula into a sterile container so that it’s quicker to just pour the whole formula amount into the bottle, and also it means that you don’t make any mistakes in counting out the number of scoops of formula whilst you are making the bottle.
Compatible with most formula and bottle brands
Since the formula doesn’t go into the machine, you can use the Perfect Prep Machine with all types of formula which is normally made using boiling water. This covers most types of formula, however see my note below regarding certain incompatible formulas.
Although the Machine is made by Tommee Tippee, you don’t need to use Tommee Tippee bottles with the machine. The stand that holds the bottle underneath the water dispenser can be adjusted to various heights and has a wide base which will hold bottles of various diameters.
Since the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine is really the only widely available product of it’s kind in the UK, the fact that it holds various bottle brands is a strong selling point for Tommee Tippee. Although Tommee Tippee is one of the major brands of bottle here, you can’t always choose the brand of bottle to use, sometimes it’s the baby’s choice and they can be extremely fussy about these things!
What are the disadvantages of the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine?
Questions over the safety of the machine
At the end of 2016 and start of 2017, a number of consumer reports were raised regarding whether the Perfect Prep Machine is safe to use. Tests were reported which showed that bacteria may be present in the water which is passed through the machine’s filter, and there were also reported cases of something that looked suspiciously like black mould growing in the hidden water tubing of the machine. The Perfect Prep Machine is classed as a baby electrical item and therefore undergoes significant safety testing before being allowed for sale, but you can read more about the identified issues and Tommee Tippee’s responses in this post.
You can achieve the same process using a kettle
One of my friends who didn’t have the Perfect Prep Machine said that it was totally pointless as she could achieve the same thing herself and that’s exactly what she did. In the morning, she would boil a kettle of water, fill two sterilised bottles and put the lids on and store them in the fridge. When it came to be time to make a bottle, she would boil a fresh kettle of water, pour 1oz (30 ml) of boiling water into a new sterile bottle, and then add her formula, shake and top up to the required feed with the cooled boiled water from the fridge. My concern with this approach is that the incorrect volume of water could be added to the bottle.
When you make a bottle, you should always measure your water first and then add the formula afterwards. When you add the formula, the volume in the bottle increases, so for example, your 120ml of water + 4 scoops of milk could then become 130ml of milk. By using the method described by my friend, most people will add the 30ml of hot water, then the 4 scoops of formula, and then top up to 120ml with cooled boiled water. This is incorrect and you should always ensure that you then add the correct amount of remaining water to the bottle.
Cost of machine
The RRP of the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine is £119.99, but you can normally find it for between £60 and £70 on Amazon.com. This makes it one of the more expensive pieces of baby kit that you might purchase, and is a non-essential item as far as most people are concerned.
However, our best friends weighed this up against the cost of another convenient formula option – ready-to-feed formula. The ready-to-feed formulas work out at about double the cost of making a normal bottle of powdered formula, somewhere in the region of £0.25 more per 4oz feed. If you were using ready-to-feed formula as your other convenient formula option, then the Perfect Prep Machine can quickly become a cheaper option. As a rough guide, if you can buy the Perfect Prep for £60, then after 240 feeds of 4oz bottles you will have saved money over using ready-to-feed formula, which is 30 days at 8 feeds per day.
The Perfect Prep Machine incorporates a water filter to purify the tap water that you pour into it. As with all water filters, this needs replacing periodically based on the amount of use of the machine. On average, this is estimated to be every 3 months, but the Machine does have an indicator light to identify when the filter needs to be changed.
The replacement filters are not included in the box, but can be purchased easily from any retailer who sells the Perfect Prep Machine such as Amazon.com. One complaint from many customers is the cost of the filters, which have an RRP of £8.99 and are difficult to find for less than the RRP. Since you will likely use the Perfect Prep Machine for at least the first 12 months, you’re going to need on average 3 replacement filters over that time, so make sure you factor in the extra £27.
Need to clean & descale it
When the Machine arrives, part of the set up includes running a cleaning process which runs a full hopper of water through the machine and takes around 15-20 minutes to complete. Whilst this is not an annoyance, since it’s just part of set-up, some customers do find it annoying that you are also required to run a descaling process as maintenance. The frequency of this will depend on the hardness and quality of the water where you live. Personally given that the machine does all of the hard work for you, I don’t see this is a negative, but others may find it an inconvenience if living in a hard water area and having to run the descale program often.
Cannot be used for all formula
Previously I said that the Perfect Prep Machine can be used for most types of formula, however it’s important to stress that it can’t be used for every type. For example, our son moved onto a prescription amino acid formula, for which the instructions say not to use water at 70°C since it can negatively affect the taste of the milk. Therefore the Perfect Prep Machine was not an option for us. Another example would be certain types of formula that contain thickening agents to control reflux, since these also need to be made with cooler water.
However, saying that, if your child drinks standard powdered infant formula such as Aptamil, Cow & Gate, Hipp Organic and SMA, then you should be able to use the Perfect Prep Machine. All of these standard formulas require you to use water heated to 65-70°C when preparing a bottle, since the high temperature kills any bacteria present in the formula powder.
Minimum feed size is too much for newborns
When babies are first born, they drink tiny amounts of milk, something along the lines of 1-2 oz (30-60ml), which will gradually increase as their stomach grows. When you are making formula using a kettle, you can prepare the amount of formula you require in order to minimise waste, although most formula packaging suggests that the minimum should be 3oz (90ml). One flaw of the perfect prep machine is that the minimum feed size that you can select is 4oz (120ml). For newborns, this is simply too much, and so you will be forced to waste your formula.
Keep in mind though, formula companies also suggest that at two weeks old, a baby should take a 4oz (120ml) feed, therefore the waste from the Perfect Prep Machine will only be for the first two weeks.
So is it worth it?
Value for money: 3/5
Price: RRP £119.99
Buy from: Amazon.com
Speaking as a mum who has never had this piece of kit in her life because of being unable to use it for our prescription milk, I can tell you that I would certainly have appreciated having one of these when our son was 6-12 months old and bottle feeding. I can definitely see its benefit, and I can also appreciate that this usefulness of this product would be magnified with a younger baby who is feeding more frequently and not as patient when waiting for feeds.
Cost is your biggest contender against this purchase, in particular because it’s not an essential item, but if the cost is not a problem for you, then I cannot see any reason not to buy this to make your life with a newborn much easier.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful in deciding whether or not to buy the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine. Please share with any friends that may be considering this purchase, and if you already have used this product it would be great to hear your feedback in the comments below.