When it comes to stored breast milk, warming the milk before feeding the baby seems like the logical thing to do. I didn’t even consider giving cold milk to either of my babies when they were young. It just seemed wrong. But is it? Can babies have cold breast milk?
When faced by a famished, impatient neonate, the period before the milk gets to the appropriate temperature can seem like an eternity. It would be nice if you could just go from the fridge to the baby’s mouth and evade the war.
And you can.
If we ask the babies though, they may prefer the milk warm, since they are used to getting it warm from the breasts.
To Warm Or Not To Warm
Naturally, we associate cold drinks to illnesses such as colds and coughs. Most moms are wary of giving babies, especially the very young ones, anything that has temperatures lower than their bodies.
While it’s good to be cautious, it’s better to be acting from the point of information rather than fear or myths. And if a mother is in a situation where she has no option but to give cold milk to her child, will she be putting him at risk?
Giving babies cold milk does not necessarily mean you are exposing them to any danger. The nutrient content in cold and warm milk stays the same.
This is assuming that you don’t boil the milk, which would kill most of the vital vitamins and nutrients. And it’s also a little outrageous to even boil breast milk!
Expressing and storing milk in your freezer or refrigerator for your baby is the norm for many new moms. Almost every mom has had to feed their baby breast milk from a bottle at one time or the other.
For some, it’s because they have to go back to work and do not want to introduce formula to their babies. For others, they do not breastfeed directly for one reason or another. Breast milk, whether from the breast or the bottle, warm or cold, is the best food for your baby.
Giving Baby Cold Milk: The Do’s And Don’ts
When I say cold milk, I’m not talking about near-freezing or breast milk on the rocks. Milk that’s in the freezer should be allowed to thaw and then poured out into the breastfeeding bottle.
If you choose to give your baby cold milk, lower the temperatures gradually as opposed to hitting them with a cold bottle of milk out of the blues.
Expect some shock and surprise at first. Remember, the baby is still making discoveries in the new world, and this will be one of them.
If you feel the milk is too cold for your liking, run it under some tap water to take away the chill.
Some babies may end up refusing the milk because it’s cold. Their little tongues are still adjusting to tastes, and cold milk may just not be welcome.
Some may wonder where this delicacy has been all their six weeks of life and take to it like a bunny to carrots. They may even prefer it cold henceforth.
Others may not care at all. They’ll drink it the same way, whether it’s cold or warm.
Properties Of Cold Breast Milk
Giving our baby cold breast milk is still better than introducing formula.
Once the milk temperatures drop, it forms a cream layer on top. This does not mean your milk has gone bad, do not discard it yet. Instead, give it a shake when its feeding time and the cream will dissolve back.
The baby needs the fats in the milk, don’t decant it. It’s this fat from hind milk that makes the baby full. Foremilk is usually more watery.
The cream may also be a little brighter in color than the rest of the milk.
If the cream doesn’t fully dissolve but forms clods in the milk instead, it may have gone bad and needs to be discarded. Do not give the baby milk that has been in the fridge for more than 48 hours.
Possible Side-Effects Of Giving Baby Cold Breast Milk
While the cold milk is not inferior to warm milk in terms of nutrients, it may cause a stomach upset in some babies. Coupled with the fact that bottle-fed babies are more prone to colic due to swallowed gas, it would be harassing to add a possibility of a tummy ache.
The baby must also use his body temperature to heat the milk once it is consumed. Babies generally lose heat 4 times faster than adults. It’s preferable to keep the baby from losing heat as much as possible.
So, can babies have cold breast milk? Yes, they can, but unless you have no option, you should warm the milk for the baby.
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How To Warm Milk For The Baby
Storing the milk in the refrigerator is always better than freezing it. Frozen milk, however, lasts much longer. If a mother will be away for a while and needs to store large amounts of milk, it must be frozen and properly dated.
Breast milk that has been stored should be used on a first-in, first-out basis when feeding the baby. This means that the milk that you stored first should be used first and the most recent batch used last.
Breast milk is rich in nutrients. Because of that, it spoils very easily. You will need to keep your milk fresh and still good for your baby.
To warm the milk, remove it from the freezer if it’s frozen and let it thaw. Once it’s thawed, pour it into a sterilized feeding bottle. Ensure that the bottle nipple isn’t too big to prevent chocking.
Put the feeding bottle in a jar of warm water to make it warm. Ensure that the milk doesn’t get hot to avoid scalding the baby. Pour a drop of milk on the back of your hand to test the temperature.
Be keen on the baby’s reaction when you introduce the bottle. If he grimaces, he may be telling you that something is nor tight with the temperature.
Once the milk has been thawed, it cannot be frozen again. If the baby doesn’t finish it, the rest has to be discarded.
Baby’s Health Comes First
The question, can babies have cold breast milk should be looked at from the point of what’s the most beneficial for the baby. And the most important thing is for the baby to be well-nourished and healthy.
As mothers, we fret about many things when it comes to our babies. And we want things done in the way we are sure it is the right way. However, no one thing works for all babies universally.
Find out what works for you and your baby and pursue it. Do not give room for mom guilt if you have to do one thing that seems a little out of the ordinary.