How to warm breast milk

breastfeeding

breastfeeding

So you’ve expressed and stored your breast milk, but what is best when it comes to how to warm breast milk? In this article, we will give you some tips about how to warm breast milk.

But first:

Why is it necessary to know how to warm breast milk? Most mothers know that breast is best, so under what circumstances would there be a reason to express and store breast milk? The following is an example of those reasons:

  • your baby is premature or unable to suck well;
  • you or you baby is in hospital and you can’t be there for every feed;
  • maybe you have had to go back to work, college or you have other commitments;
  • you are leaving your baby with a babysitter while you are out;
  • you want a night off from feeding, and it’s dad’s turn to take the night shift;
  • your breasts sometimes feel too full and uncomfortable.

While circumstances may dictate your ability to breastfeed, you will be able to express and store your breastmilk to ensure your baby gets the best source of nutrition. However, you need to know the best way to store and how to warm breast milk.

Storing your breast milk

The following are some tips for storing your precious breast milk:

  • Always label your breast milk with the date it was expressed.
  • Store breast milk in the back of the fridge or freezer where it is coldest and not in the door. This will help protect the breast milk from temperature changes from when the door opens or closes.
  • If you don’t think you will use freshly expressed breast milk within 4 days, freeze it right away. This will help to protect the quality of breast milk.
  • Freeze breast milk in small amounts to avoid wasting breast milk that might not be finished.
  • When freezing breast milk, leave about a space at the top of the container because breast milk expands as it freezes.
  • Breast milk storage bags are an easy and convenient way to store and serve your breast milk to your baby.

How to warm breast milk?

While there is no medical reason for you to heat your baby’s bottle, most babies will prefer warm milk as that is the temperature they are familiar with from breastfeeding.

Frozen breastmilk should ideally be defrosted in the fridge, and can be stored there for up to 12 hours. Do not re-freeze breastmilk once it has thawed. If you have forgotten to defrost your breastmilk overnight don’t worry. You can defrost it under cool, then warm running water, or place it in a bowl of warm water. Never be tempted to place breastmilk in the microwave, as this can create hotspots with can burn your baby’s mouth. Remember your breast milk needs to be warm and not hot!

If your milk has been stored for some time, you may notice that it separates. This is normal, so just give it a gentle shake to mix it up again.

For more detailed advice about how to warm breast milk read our dedicated article here.

While the traditional way is very reliable, it’s not very portable. So how do you warm breast milk when you’re a busy mum on-the-go? A portable bottle warmer could be the answer.

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How to heat up breast milk in a bottle warmer

There are many different brands of bottle warmers on the market, so make sure you always read the given instructions. Most bottle warmers will take a few minutes to reach the desired temperature. Make sure you place the breast milk storage container in the designated heating space and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

The Cherub Baby’s Travel Bottle Warmers have dedicated sleeves to wrap around your baby’s bottle and can be taken with you so that you have a way to warm your baby’s bottle anytime and anywhere.

You may also be wondering how to defrost breast milk in a bottle warmer? And the answer is yes, you can thaw your frozen breastmilk using a bottle warmer, just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. But once it’s thawed, never refreeze your breastmilk.

How long can breast milk stay in a bottle warmer?

If your baby eats on and off, or if you’re traveling, breast milk may end up sitting out for a while. The safety of breast milk left in a bottle warmer will vary greatly depending on the overall bacteria levels in the environment.

But as a general rule breast milk is good in a bottle warmer for:

  • a maximum of four hours for fresh breast milk. After four hours you should use, store, or discard it.
  • for two hours if your breastmilk has been previously stored and thawed. Always discard unused, thawed breast milk after two hours. Do not refreeze or reheat breast milk that was frozen and thawed.

Testing the temperature

Now that we have talked about how to warm breast milk, how do you test the temperature?

The most reliable way to test the temperature is to squeeze a few drops onto the inside of your wrist. The skin on your inner wrist is much more sensitive than your hands. The milk drops should feel neutral to your touch, not too hot and not too cold.

Remember to always test the temperature of your baby’s bottle before feeding your baby to avoid burning your baby’s mouth.

References:

Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk – CDC

How to Safely Warm Breast Milk from the Refrigerator and Freezer – Healthline

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