How to Warm Breast Milk to Preserve the Nutrients

How to warm breast milk. Since breast milk is naturally warm when newborns feed, many of them prefer to drink it from a bottle when still warm.

How to Gently Heat Breast Milk Without Killing the Good Stuff, The process of warming breast milk is more complicated than it seems. To get it to a safe temperature while preserving its live nutrients, follow these easy steps. It's up to you whether or not you want to warm up your breast milk before feeding it to your baby. Since breast milk is naturally warm when newborns feed, many of them prefer to drink it from a bottle when still warm.

Breast milk's consistency is improved after being kept warmed. The fat in breast milk tends to separate from the milk when it is frozen or refrigerated. Breast milk may be more readily mixed back to its previous consistency by warming it, or at least by getting it to room temperature. There are several pauses along the way from breast to baby if you are a pumping mom. It's crucial to know how to warm breast milk safely and efficiently if you plan on transporting it, and whether that plan includes a stop at the refrigerator or freezer.

If you want to know how to safely warm up breast milk, then keep reading.

Reasons to Heat Breast Milk

While it is acceptable to feed newborn breast milk that has been refrigerated, most infants prefer their milk at a temperature closer to that of the mother's body.

Energy theory, or the study of how the heat of a meal influences its absorption into the body, is another argument for mastering the art of warming breast milk. Some people believe that meals served at room temperature or slightly warmer are better for digestion and nutritional value than those served cold. Consequently, warming breast milk should facilitate digestion for the infant.

When warming breast milk, what is the best temperature to do so?

When the breast milk is ready, gently stir it and squeeze a few drops onto your wrist to check the temperature. In general, it shouldn't feel either too cold or too hot when you put it on your skin. Even though I don't anticipate you breaking out a food thermometer, the following ranges may be useful:

Babies may drink breast milk at temperatures between 32 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit without risk, while this range may not be ideal for digestion or flavor development. During this frigid spell, some infants may even reject milk.

The typical human body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It's an excellent goal temperature for warming breast milk since it's similar to what it would be if it came straight from mom's breast. In addition, the temperature is not high enough to kill the beneficial bacteria and viruses that are present in breast milk.

The optimum temperature for breast milk is 98 degrees Fahrenheit, thus temperatures between 99 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit are still considered lukewarm and are safe for the infant.

Above mild temperatures (around 106 degrees Fahrenheit), heating breast milk is not advised. Breast milk loses some of its nutritional value and quality when heated over safe thresholds, and babies may be burned by drinking hot liquids.

Breast Milk Heating Instructions

In light of this newfound knowledge, let's talk about the mechanics of warming breast milk. Breast milk may be warmed in one of four distinct methods, all of which are safe and won't compromise the milk's nutritional value.

1.  The Technique of Using Moving Water

  • Warm water should be used for running the taps.
  • If you want to wash out any bacteria, run some water over a sealed container or bag of breast milk.
  • You can reheat the contents in a few minutes by gently rotating the container.
  • Stir lightly by swirling.
  • Before feeding it to the baby, check the temperature by putting a few drops on your wrist.

This is an efficient way for warming breast milk, although it is not the most eco-friendly. If you want to reduce your impact on the environment, use a technique that requires less water or none at all (like the ones below).

2. Method of a Hot Tub Immersion

  • Bring some hot water to a dish and fill it up.
  • For a few minutes, reheat the water in the container and place the sealed bottle or bag of breast milk inside.
  • Stir lightly by swirling.
  • Before feeding it to the baby, check the temperature by putting a few drops on your wrist.

3.  A Simple, Effective, and Convenient Home-Based Solution

  • Breast milk should be brought to room temperature before being used, so leave a sealed container or bag on the counter.
  • Stir lightly by swirling.
  • Use a wrist thermometer to make sure the solution is safe for the infant before administering it.

The official suggestion is to not keep breast milk out for more than two hours, however many mothers leave it out for much longer (up to eight hours!) with no problems. Babies born prematurely or with immune system deficiencies should pay particular attention to this. (source)

4.  System for Heating Bottles

Follow your bottle warmer's directions (which may vary depending on the brand) to learn how to warm breast milk, but use caution. An apparent risk to the infant results from heating breast milk too much in a bottle warmer, but doing so may also kill off some of the beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms.

Avoiding Breast Milk Scalding

Breast milk contains a variety of micro and macronutrients, but it also contains many "live" components. Breast milk is unique because it contains cells, enzymes, and probiotics that combat bacteria, boost the immune system, nurture the microbiome, and improve digestion.

Overheating breast milk may harm or destroy some of its living components and heat-sensitive elements, according to studies. Studies have shown that high temperatures may decrease folate levels in breast milk by as much as 24 percent. Warming milk to temperatures over 143 degrees Fahrenheit has also been shown to kill the healthy probiotic bacteria and white blood cells that are found in breast milk. Although it may seem scorching, many homes have tap water that reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more.  (source)

Breast milk is sometimes referred to as "liquid gold," so it's important to know how to warm it safely to keep all of its potent nutrients intact.

To avoid becoming too hot, remember these three guidelines:

1. Breast milk should never be heated in a microwave.

Reheating breast milk in the microwave is a huge no-no. (source)

The liquids inside a microwave oven might produce hot spots because the heat isn't distributed uniformly. A baby's soft lips might easily be burned by such scorching areas. Additionally, studies show that overheated bottles may burst, leading to second-degree burns.

2. Make Sure the Water Isn’t Too Hot

Never reheat breast milk in boiling water or even very hot water from the faucet. If you do it, you risk overheating. According to one research, heating bottles to 120 degrees Fahrenheit dramatically diminishes the quality of breast milk. Breast milk may be warmed to the ideal body temperature using water that is between 98 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Don’t Put Breastmilk Directly Into a Pan and Heat

For starters, this may cause an increase in germs and other contaminants in breast milk. Also, maintaining a comfortable temperature is next to impossible. You run the risk of overheating, which is bad for the infant and bad for the milk.

The shelf life of warmed breast milk is about how long?

Heated milk that has previously been refrigerated or frozen has a shorter shelf life than freshly pumped and expressed milk, which may be stored at room temperature for as long as 6-8 hours (4 hours in a very warm atmosphere). Safety standards recommend using the milk within 2 hours after bringing it to room temperature.

Keep in mind that the guidelines err on the side of caution and that many mothers keep warmed breast milk out for longer with no ill effects. With a weakened immune system, this is the safest course of action for the newborn.

Breast milk should be stored, thawed, and warmed in modest volumes because of this short window. Milk should be stored between two and four ounces per container. (It's useful for bottle-feeding schedules, anyhow.) Then, just warm or defrost what you want to consume. More heat may always be added.

Is it OK to reheat already heated breast milk?

Avoid giving the infant any leftover milk if at all possible. Breast milk may get contaminated with germs from the infant's saliva if the baby is given a bottle. Yet for some mothers, the thought of wasting this precious resource is too much to stomach. The danger is minimal, according to some doctors, and research shows that antibodies in breast milk aid in the battle against any bacterium.

Once again, the easiest way to prevent this issue is to only preserve and give little volumes of breast milk. Extra breast milk should be used within a few hours after being expressed. To find out what's best for your kid, consult with a doctor.

Important: Reheated milk is not recommended for newborns with impaired immune systems, such as premature or ill infants. For this reason, it is best to get rid of any breast milk that has been stored for too long.

Can You Refrigerate a Bottle After It’s Been Warmed?

After warming breast milk, it should be ingested within two hours.

Some mothers find it more convenient to leave the bottle out on the counter than to reheat it. When storing breast milk, some mothers choose to keep it at room temperature.

However, if you're going to be outside or in a very warm and/or sunny environment, you may want to consider putting any leftover breast milk in the refrigerator.


While breast milk is very stable, it may still spoil. Although it has a longer shelf life than you may think, it will eventually deteriorate if left out.

Among the warning indications of spoiling are:

  • Putrid odor
  • Quite an unusual flavor
  • Modification of surface quality or hue
  • A divide that, no matter how much you shake it, just won't blend.

Many professionals in the field of food safety adhere to the maxim "when in doubt, throw it away." Don't risk serving breast milk that you've kept for later consumption if you have any doubts regarding its freshness. Always err on the side of caution to avoid any unnecessary embarrassment.

Read More: How to Warm Breast Milk

1 ratings