| |

Can You Reheat Breast Milk? 6 Tips and Methods for Safe Reheating Without Harming Your Baby

Can you reheat breast milk is a very good question. Read on for advise on how to do this.

Can you Reheat Breast Milk?

Breast milk, often referred to as “liquid gold” for its invaluable benefits for babies, is a precious resource for nursing mothers. However, there are instances when you may have some leftover breast milk that needs to be reheated for your little one’s next feeding. The question arises: Can you reheat breast milk? The answer is yes, you can! In this article, we’ll explore the best practices and methods for safely reheating breast milk while preserving its essential nutrients.

How Long is Breast Milk Good For?

Breast milk is a valuable commodity, and understanding its safe storage duration is crucial for providing optimal nourishment to your baby.

How long breast milk is good for depends on how you store it. This image shows milk in flat plastic containers that are ready to refrigerator or freeze.The storage period varies based on temperature conditions. When kept at room temperature (around 77°F or 25°C), breast milk remains safe for up to four hours, making it suitable for short-term use.

Refrigeration (32°F to 39°F or 0°C to 4°C) extends its freshness to four days. For longer preservation, freezing is the best option. In a standard freezer, breast milk can last three to six months, while in a deep freezer, it maintains its quality for up to twelve months. For more specifics on the safe storage of breast milk, check out the CDC website.

To minimize waste and ensure your baby receives the best nourishment, always label containers with the expression date (date when you pumped the milk) and make sure you use the oldest milk first. Then, you can reheat breast milk. Happy feeding!

Why Reheat Breast Milk?

Breast milk is an optimal source of nutrition for infants, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and antibodies that support their growth and immune system. In some situations, you might need to reheat breast milk if:

  1. The breast milk was refrigerated or frozen, and you want to serve it at a comfortable temperature for your baby.
  2. You pumped excess breast milk and want to use it for later feedings.
  3. You want someone else like a caregiver, or dad to feed the baby. (There is nothing cuter than watching a new dad tenderly feeding his baby!)
    Cute loving father feeding his baby, which generally can’t be done if breast feeding. Storing breast milk allows makes this easy!

The proper Storage of Breast Milk

Before we delve into the various reheating methods, let’s touch upon the critical aspect of proper breast milk storage. Ensuring that breast milk is adequately stored, can significantly impact its quality when reheated.

  • Storage Containers: Store breast milk in BPA-free containers specifically designed for breast milk storage. Avoid using regular plastic bottles, as they may not maintain the milk’s quality.

  • Labels and Dates: Always label the containers with the date of expression (pumping). Breast milk can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to four days and in the freezer for about six months.

Freeze Flat: When freezing breast milk, consider laying the bags flat in the freezer. This method allows for quicker thawing and more even reheating, as well as more organized storage.

Different Ways to Reheat Breast Milk

Now that we have a clear understanding of proper storage, let’s explore the various methods of reheating breast milk. Please note that reheating food is a delicate problem as you want your food warm and delicious but you don’t want to overcook your meal. However, when you are reheating breast milk, your problem is 10 times worse as you absolutely cannot over heat the milk and risk burning the baby, you don’t want to overcook it and ruin the nutritional value of that milk and you don’t want to feed the baby cold milk!

1. Can you Reheat Breast Milk in a Warm Water Bath Method?

The short answer is yes. The warm water bath method is gentle and prevents overheating, which can lead to a loss of essential nutrients. Here’s how to do it:

a. Fill a bowl or basin with warm water, not hot water. The temperature should be around 100°F (37.8°C). Check the temperature by placing a drop of water on your wrist. (It should feel about the same temperature as your wrist).

b. Take the frozen or refrigerated breast milk container and place it in the warm water bath. Make sure the container is sealed tightly to avoid water seepage.

c. Allow the breast milk to warm up gradually, gently swirling the container occasionally to ensure even heating.

2.  Can You Reheat Breast Milk in a Bottle Warmer?

Bottle warmers are specifically designed to warm breast milk and baby bottles evenly. Follow these steps:

a. Place the breast milk container in the bottle warmer and add the appropriate amount of water to the warmer, following the manufacturer’s guidelines.

b. Turn on the bottle warmer and wait until the breast milk reaches the desired temperature.

c. Always swirl the container gently to mix the fat layer that might have separated during storage and ensure the milk is all at the same temperature.

3. Can you Reheat Breast Milk in a Regular Pot?

You really shouldn’t because you risk overheating the milk (and ruining some of the nutritional value of the milk) and also burning your baby’s mouth. However as this is the simplest and fastest way, people are going to be reheating breast milk this way, so, here are instructions on how to do this as safely as possible. Again, while it is not recommended, here is the safest way to do it. Please note: you must take extra precautions to prevent overheating:

a. Pour a small amount (maybe 2-3 inches) of water into a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer.

b. Put the breast milk into a bottle with the nipple attached.

c. Put the bottle with the breast milk inside the simmering pot.

d. Slowly reheat the breast milk inside the bottle, pulling it out from time to time to shake to ensure than none of the milk overheats.

e. Each time you pull the bottle out and after you have shaken it, tip out a couple of drops of breast milk onto the inside of your wrist. It will be ready when the breast milk feels the same temperature as your wrist.

Please note: Wipe off the hot water from the outside of the bottle before pouring anything on your wrist.

4. How to Reheat Mother’s Milk in an Electric Bottle Sterilizer?

Electric bottle sterilizers often have a “warm” setting, making them suitable for reheating breast milk as well. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to warm the breast milk safely.

5. Can you reheat breast milk in a microwave?

The answer is absolutely not!! For many reasons: 1. You risk burning the baby’s mouth and 2. Breast milk is extra nutritious because it has not be pasteurised (subjected to extreme heat to kill organisms) because it is not needed as breast milk stored in a sterile container should be safe for the baby.

You can microwave sour cream designed for adult use but overheating breast milk in a microwave would strip the milk of most of it’s nutritional value.

Cautions on Re-Heating Breast Milk (or any type of baby food).

Here are 2 tips to ensure you never burn your baby.

  1. As a baby’s mouth is very sensitive to heat, always test the heat of the contents of your bottle by dropping a few drops against your wrist before feeding the bottle to your baby. It should be about the same temperature – never hotter.
  2. Before even testing the heat of the bottle, shake it first to make sure all liquid is at the same temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I refreeze breast milk after reheating it?

A: It is not recommended to refreeze breast milk after it has been reheated. Once breast milk has been thawed and warmed, it should be used within the next feeding and discarded if there are any leftovers.

Q: What is the ideal temperature for reheating breast milk?

A: The ideal temperature for reheating breast milk is approximately body temperature, around 98.6°F (37°C). Use a digital thermometer (or pour a couple of drops onto the inside of your wrist) to check the milk’s temperature before feeding it to your baby.

Q: Can I mix freshly expressed breast milk with already refrigerated or frozen breast milk?

A: Yes, you can mix freshly expressed breast milk with refrigerated or frozen breast milk, as long as the freshly expressed milk has been cooled to refrigerator or freezer temperature before combining them. Always use the oldest milk first when combining different batches. When you reheat breast milk, you would basically follow the same rules as you would when reheating food sources in general, but you would be extra careful with breast milk, which is why we wrote this article.

Final Thoughts

As a loving parent, you want the best for your baby, and that includes offering them safely reheated breast milk, when necessary. Remember to never microwave breast milk, as it can create hot spots and destroy essential nutrients. By following these tips and methods, you can confidently reheat breast milk, while preserving its valuable properties, providing your little ones with the nourishment they deserve. Happy feeding!


Suggested Posts