For the first few months of a baby’s life, breast milk is crucial. For working mothers or at times when feeding your baby isn’t possible, storing breast milk for later use comes in very handy and makes sure that your precious little one doesn’t miss out on so many essential nutrients!
While it is absolutely okay (and safe) to give your baby breast milk stored at a cold temperature, babies are more accustomed to drinking milk at a lukewarm, body temperature, straight from the mother’s breast. Hence, warming up breast milk before you offer it is an important step. The question arises, it is okay to reheat or warm breast milk the same way as regular milk?
What should you do
Just like your little baby is sensitive, so is the milk you offer them to drink. Warmed up breast milk also gives your baby several benefits. It offers recharged probiotics and for their tiny stomachs, it is also easier to digest and more nourishing than cold milk. Hence, warming breast milk is a good option. That being said, mother’s milk is different than dairy milk and should be attended to with more care and attention. If you are thinking of putting your bottle of stored milk in the microwave, don’t. Doing so not only damages several essential nutrients in the milk and harms their composition, but it can also create “hot spots” in the breast milk, which can touch the baby’s tongue and lead to problems. The same can also happen with formula milk. Hence, it is a good practice to avoid putting anything in the microwave you plan to feed your baby in the first months.
However, there is a right way to do it. You can either choose to thaw it or defrost it naturally, until it reaches room temperature, use special bottle warmers which won’t harm the milk. Another good way to warm the milk would be to place the milk bottle in a pan of warm (not too hot) water. However, do not expose it to heat directly. Once warmed, you can test the milk’s temperature by putting a little on your wrist before feeding it to your baby. Body temperature is considered to be the best since it doesn’t make the nutrients go bad or destroy its probiotic qualities. It should feel just about warm and not too hot.
When you are storing breast milk, also ensure that you are storing it in sterilized nursing bags or bottles which are leak proof. Stored breast milk, frozen, stays good for up to 5 days. Once warmed up or thawed, it is good to feed for about 6-7 hours.