You know how difficult it may be to express and conserve your breast milk as a breastfeeding mother. When you’re half sleepy after a 3 a.m. feed or running late for a 10 a.m. meeting, it takes a lot of effort to follow safe storage guidelines, and you don’t want to watch that valuable liquid gold go to waste. What if you’ve heated a bottle of chilled expressed milk and your baby doesn’t finish it? The solution is complex and depends on a number of things. Continue reading to find out more.
Can You Reheat Breastmilk?
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about breastmilk out there. Can you reheat breastmilk? The answer is yes, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First of all, it’s important to understand that breastmilk is different from formula. Breastmilk is living tissue and contains antibodies that help protect your baby from illness. Formula is a man-made product and does not have the same immune-boosting properties.
That being said, you can reheat breastmilk, but you need to do so carefully. The best way to reheat breastmilk is to place it in a bowl of warm water. Do not microwave breastmilk, as this can destroy the antibodies and nutrients it contains. Once you’ve reheated your breastmilk, be sure to use it within two hours. Any longer and the quality of the milk will start to decline. So, can you reheat breastmilk? Yes, but do so carefully and use it within two hours for the best results.
Can You Reheat Breastmilk Twice?
There is no definitive answer to how many times you can reheat breast milk. However, it is generally accepted that you should not reheat breast milk more than once. This is because reheating breast milk can decrease its nutritional value and also increase the risk of bacteria growth. If you do need to reheat breast milk, it is important to do so safely. Make sure to use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the milk before feeding it to your baby.
The milk should be heated to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any bacteria that may be present. It is also important to remember that reheated breast milk will not be as good as fresh milk. The nutritional value of the milk will decrease with each reheating. So, if possible, it is best to use fresh milk. If you have any leftover breast milk that you need to reheat, make sure to do so safely and within the guidelines mentioned above. This will help to ensure that your baby gets the best nutrition possible.
What happens if you reheat breastmilk twice?
As stated above, If you reheat breastmilk twice, it can lose some of its nutritional value and become less effective at protecting your baby from illness. Additionally, reheating breastmilk can make it more likely to spoil, so it’s important to be careful when reheating and to only reheat it once.
How long can keep breast milk after warming?
You can keep warmed breast milk in the refrigerator, freezer or at room temperature. The length of time depends on the temperature at which you store it.
- At room temperature: Up to 2 hours
- In a cooler with an ice pack: Up to 24 hours
- In the refrigerator: Up to 4 days
- In a deep freezer: Up to 3-6 months
When to NOT Reheat Breast Milk
You should not reheat breast milk more than once in a 24-hour period. You don’t want to use the same bottle of breast milk twice, because bacteria might have a chance to grow in the liquid. If you are reheating breast milk, only take out as much as you need for one feeding—and after the baby finishes drinking the cold liquid, discard any leftover.
Does warming breast milk lose nutrients?
According to some research, when breast milk is heated to 100.4°F (38°C), just slightly beyond body temperature, its proteins begin to break down. This means that even when breast milk is heated, crucial immunologically “active” and digestive components that assist babies can be lost. At 104 degrees F, for example, enzyme activity (amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates, and lipase, which breaks down fats) starts to decline (40 C). These enzymes are crucial because they assist newborns with immature digestion in breaking down nutrients in the milk so that they can be absorbed and used for growth.
So, throughout the heating procedure, do you lose nutrients? Yes. Breast milk, on the other hand, still has a lot of nutritional value.
Can breast milk be reheated in the microwave?
Despite the fact that it’s been shown to be a safe and easy way to heat breast milk for newborns, the microwave has always seemed like it might be doing something bad to your precious liquid gold.
Microwaving breast milk causes hot spots that could burn babies’ mouths. In addition, microwaving may destroy some of the important vitamins and antibodies contained in breast milk.
There’s a way to avoid this problem altogether is by using a bottle warmer instead! Bottle warmers are designed specifically for heating liquids like breast milk and formula to just the right temperature (no hotter!), so you don’t have to worry about having an accident or dealing with hot spots.
It also helps eliminate bacteria from entering into your baby’s food supply by keeping it at an even temperature while warming up—something microwaves can’t do.
Guildlines for heating, thawing, or defrosting frozen Breastmilk
When heating baby’s milk, always shake the liquid to even out the temperature and test on top of your hand – not the wrist (this is one of the areas least sensitive to heat) – before feeding. Milk that’s “baby-ready” should feel lukewarm.
Heating breast milk or infant formula in the microwave is not recommended. Studies have shown that microwaves heat baby’s milk and formula unevenly. This results in “hot spots” that can scald a baby’s mouth and throat.
When reheating, slow and easy does it
When it comes to reheating breast milk, slow and easy is the safest way to go. Reheating breast milk too quickly or at too high a temperature can reduce its nutritional value and destroy its antibodies. If you heat the milk too quickly, you might also end up with a gloopy mess, since overheating causes the fat in the milk to separate. For these reasons, breastfeeding moms are advised not to microwave their breast milk, which heats up liquids unevenly and at a high temperature.
The best way to reheat refrigerated or thawed expressed breast milk is by placing it into a bowl of warm (not hot) water for about 15 minutes. The bowl should be filled with water that’s about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. You can check using your wrist: If it feels warm but not hot when you touch it, then that’s about right!
Test the temperature of reheated breast milk
Before you feed your baby, test the temperature of the breast milk to make sure that it’s not too hot.
To do this, drip a little bit of breast milk on the inside of your wrist. It should feel warm—not hot or cold—before you feed it to your baby. If it’s too hot, let it cool more until it’s just warm before feeding your baby.
Never thaw or heat breast milk in a microwave
Microwaves are a commonplace comfort that most of us can’t imagine not having. When you use one, you’ve probably seen that after a length of time, part of your food will be searing hot while the other half remains cold. While this is inconvenient for us, it is the reason why heating breastmilk in the microwave is risky for your infant.
Microwaves can generate “hot spots” in your baby’s breastmilk as a result of uneven heating temperatures. You would think that if your baby’s milk was excessively hot, you’d notice, but you probably wouldn’t. This is due to the fact that the outside of your baby’s bottle can be absolutely chilly to the touch while the interior is boiling hot.
“Microwaving breast milk or infant formula is not suggested,” the FDA warns. Microwaves heat baby’s milk and formula unevenly, according to studies. “Hot spots” form, which can scorch a baby’s mouth and neck.”
Microwaving a bottle will save you a minute or two, but the risk isn’t worth it. Instead, we’re working on a solution for a safe way to warm a bottle.
Signs Your Breast Milk Has Gone Bad
If you’ve just warmed a bottle of breast milk, look for the following signs that it has gone bad:
- A foul or rancid odor.
- The presence of lumps or clumps.
- Body parts floating in the milk.
Can Babies drink cold breastmilk?
Absolutely. Breastmilk doesn’t have to be warmed or refrigerated, and it’s perfectly fine for your little one to drink cold breastmilk. In fact, some babies prefer it! Some mothers also prefer feeding their babies cold breastmilk if they’re experiencing engorgement, as the coolness can help ease the discomfort.
How Should You Store Breastmilk?
To ensure that your breast milk stays fresh, it is imperative that you follow proper storage procedures. Breast milk can be refrigerated at temperatures between 39°F (3.8°C) and 32°F (0°C) for up to 8 days. Breast milk can also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months in the main compartment or 12 months in a freezer door compartment or separate deep freezer. The rules of careful storage ensure that your baby gets all of the benefits from breastmilk without risking spoilage and possible contamination.
When storing breast milk, there are some things you should keep in mind that affect how long it will last:
- To preserve expressed breast milk, use breast milk storage bags or clean, food-grade containers. Ensure that the containers are constructed of glass or plastic and that the lids are securely fastened.
- Avoid bottles with the recycle mark #7, which indicates that the container contains BPA.
- Breast milk should never be stored in disposable bottle liners or plastic bags that aren’t designed to hold breast milk.
- Freshly expressed or pumped milk can be stored:
- At room temperature (77°F or colder) for up to 4 hours.
- In the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- In the freezer for about 6 months is best; up to 12 months is acceptable. Although freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are important to follow for best quality.
Why is thawed breastmilk only good for 24 hours?
As a parent, you’ll want to know the answer to this question before you make the decision to store your breastmilk. The reason why thawed breastmilk lasts in the refrigerator for only 24 hours is because after thawing, you expose it to germs from the environment. If you have been storing your breastmilk in a freezer bag or bottle, be sure to transfer it into a covered container before allowing your baby to drink it. The reason for this is that once it has been thawed and exposed to air, it will begin to spoil. If you’re not planning on using it right away, refrigerate it so that bacteria doesn’t have time to grow.
If you find yourself with a lot of extra breastmilk, but not enough storage space in the freezer, there are other options. Some parents choose to freeze their milk in ice cube trays. Once frozen, they can transfer the cubes into freezer bags and store them for later use. This method allows you to use as much or as little as you need at one time without having to defrost an entire bag of milk.
Can you refrigerate breast milk after heating it up?
You can feed your child warm breast milk straight away or store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours after warming it. Warm breast milk should not be left out at room temperature. It should not be refrozen. You should discard any leftover breast milk in the bottle if your infant does not finish a feeding.
Can I use warmed breast milk again
Yes. If you want to offer it again within the next two hours, you can do so.
Per the CDC:
“Once breast milk is brought to room temperature or warmed after storing in the refrigerator or freezer, it should be used within 2 hours”
Can I refrigerate thawed breast milk
NEVER refreeze human milk after it has been thawed
Which breast milk storage method is best?
Breast milk is preferred to formula for your infant, but freshly expressed breast milk is preferable to refrigerated, and refrigerated is preferable to frozen. Because freshly expressed milk is stronger in antioxidants, vitamins, and fat than milk that has been refrigerated or frozen, it has the best bacteria-fighting capabilities.
How long to store your expressed breast milk
Depending on how soon you want to use the breast milk, you can store it at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer.
Follow these rules for storing newly expressed breast milk (for healthy term newborns) in terms of location and temperature.
|Storage place||Room temperature
16 °C to 25 °C
(60 °F to 77 °F)
4 °C (39 °F)
-18 °C (0 °F )
breast milk thawed
in the refrigerator
|Safe storage time||Up to four hours is best
Up to six hours for milk expressed under very clean conditions*
|Up to three days is best
Up to five days for milk expressed under very clean conditions*
|Up to six months is best
Up to nine months for milk expressed under very clean conditions*
|Up to two hours at room temperature
Up to 24 hours in the refrigerator
Do not refreeze
Why does my stored breast milk smell odd?
You could notice that your breast milk smells different when it’s refrigerated or defrosted. This is because an enzyme called lipase breaks down lipids and releases fatty acids, which helps to prevent harmful bacteria from growing.
Some mothers say their stored milk smells soapy or rotten. However, if you’ve followed all of the safe-storage rules in this article, you’ll be alright.
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- Human Milk Banking Association of North America. 2011 Best practice for expressing, storing and handling human milk in hospitals, homes, and child care settings. (HMBANA, Fort Worth, 2011).
- García-Lara NR et al. Effect of freezing time on macronutrients and energy content of breastmilk. Breastfeeding Medicine. 2012;7(4):295-301.
- Office on Women’s Health. Pumping and storing breastmilk. [Internet]. Silver Spring, MD, USA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2018 [updated 2018 Jan 12; cited 2018 Apr 12] Available from: www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/pumping-and-storing-breastmilk