Can Babies Drink Cold Breastmilk?

Can Babies Drink Cold Breastmilk?

Breastfeeding has always been considered the best way to feed your baby. It not only offers mothers a great way to bond with their baby but is also a really convenient option.

Breastfeeding also offers mothers a range of different options for feeding their baby beside the traditional breastfeeding. For example, many mothers decide to exclusively express their breast milk for their babies and this can be for different reasons.

Some mothers choose to breastfeed and express which allows them to have more freedom to leave their baby for a few hours with dad or another trustworthy person.

If you have expressed your milk, ready for your baby to have either while you are enjoying a few hours of peace and quiet or if you prefer to feed them expressed milk while you are out and about, the question arises: “Can babies drink cold breastmilk?”

The simple answer is: yes, they can drink cold breastmilk without any issues. That is as long as the milk has been stored correctly in either the refrigerator or freezer.

Although, many babies may prefer their milk warm. There are a few things that you should watch out for when feeding your baby cold breastmilk such as separation of the milk and upset stomach or gas.

Although it is perfectly safe to feed cold breastmilk to your baby, you will need to ensure it is stored correctly. You will also need to be aware of any issues that could potentially arise as a result of feeding your baby cold breastmilk.

Drinking Cold Breastmilk Without Problems

For most babies, drinking cold breastmilk is more of a personal choice. For many mothers who decide to express their milk, whether this is in addition to standard breastfeeding or exclusively expressing, your baby is still getting all the benefits both health-wise and emotionally.

Do not think that because you are giving them your breastmilk in a bottle that they are not reaping the rewards of drinking your milk – they most definitely still are!

Feeding your baby cold breastmilk will still ensure that your baby is getting all the benefits from breastfeeding. It simply provides you with the flexibility to send your milk with your baby either to daycare or for dad to feed while you get some much-needed rest.

Don’t be surprised if your baby turns their nose up at the cold breastmilk after all that is not what they are used to. They are used to drinking their milk at body temperature, as it is when it leaves your breasts.

But persevere and see if they can be persuaded to take it cold or you may have to gradually lower the temperature at each feed so that it is not quite such a shock to their system.

mother with child in bed

Recommendations For Serving Cold Breastmilk

In order to get the best results, here are the recommendations for serving cold breastmilk to your baby:

  • It is best to feed cold breastmilk to your baby within 48 hours of it being pumped. This is not always possible but something to keep in mind when you are planning your pumping schedule.
  • It is best to avoid freezing breastmilk as freezing can reduce the benefits of breastmilk more so than refrigeration does.
  • It is a good idea to freeze some breastmilk in case of emergency or your milk supply runs low.

To help your baby get used to drinking cooler milk, do it gradually. You can start by mixing cold breast milk from the fridge with freshly pumped warm milk and gradually reduce the amount of warm milk.

You can always heat up the cold breastmilk in a bottle warmer or a jug of hot water. Just be aware that breastmilk heats up much quicker than formula.

Once your baby is happy to drink warm milk from the bottle, gradually start to reduce the temperature of the milk until they will happily drink the cold milk.

How To Store Breastmilk Safely

How long you can keep your expressed breastmilk is going to vary on how you are going to store it. Here are some general guidelines to ensure your milk is safely stored:

Room Temperature

Freshly expressed breastmilk can be safely kept at room temperature for up to six hours. Although, it is best to store the milk within 4 hours especially if the room is warm.

Insulated cooler

Freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored in an insulated cooler with ice packs for up to a day.

Refrigerator

Freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored in the back of the refrigerator for up to five days. It is important that it is stored at the back of the refrigerator and not in the door to reduce the risk of temperature fluctuations. It is best to freeze milk within three days.

cold breastmilk

Freezer

Freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored in the back of a freezer for up to 12 months, but you should aim to use the milk within six months

You need to keep in mind that research has suggested that the longer you store breastmilk, the greater the loss of vitamin C in the milk. This is the same regardless of if it is in the refrigerator or the freezer.

Things To Check When Feeding Cold Breastmilk

There are a few things that you need to be aware of when feeding your baby cold breastmilk. such as:

Cold Breastmilk Separates

You may have noticed this when you store your breastmilk in the fridge. It will separate out into a creamy looking layer and then a lighter layer that is more like milk. The milk is fine. You just need to swirl it gently so that it mixes back together.

Your Baby May Refuse Cold Breastmilk

There is a pretty good chance that your baby will refuse cold breastmilk. After all, they are used to drinking it straight from the source which is always the perfect temperature.

The best way to overcome this is to gradually lower the temperature on the breastmilk that you are feeding them in a bottle until they are happy to take it cold.

Cold Breastmilk May Upset Your Baby’s Stomach

There is no scientific evidence to support this claim but many mothers complain that when they have fed their babies cold breastmilk, they end up with an upset stomach.

So even without the science to back it up, we still need to acknowledge that this may happen. If it does, I would go back to feeding warm breastmilk to my baby.

mom bottlefeeding baby

Cold Breastmilk May Give Your Baby Gas

Again, there is no scientific evidence or research to support this. But every baby has their own individual digestive system. Some things will upset one baby whereas another will have no problems with it at all.

If your baby is one that suffers from gas after taking cold breastmilk, you would be best to go back to feeding them warm breastmilk.

The Final Word

You will do your baby no harm by feeding them cold breastmilk. It will come down to their personal preference. Some babies will drink cold breastmilk without even a second glance. Others will be disgusted that you even offered it to them!

Only one of my five children ever liked their milk cold straight from the refrigerator, like I said it comes down to personal choice. Be aware of any changes in your baby’s behavior or demeanor that may signal that the cold breastmilk is upsetting them.

As long as you ensure that your breastmilk has been stored correctly and your baby is happy to drink their milk cold, go ahead and enjoy the convenience of not having to figure out a way to heat up their milk on those family day-outs!

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