Why Warm Breast Milk to 40 Degrees Celsius?
Freezing breast milk can lead to the formation of a thick layer of fat that floats on the surface. When thawed, the milk returns to a liquid state, but it may still need to be heated to dissolve the fats and make it more convenient for the baby to nurse.
As recommended by many experts, warming breast milk to 40 degrees Celsius is optimal. This temperature preserves the nutritional content of breast milk and helps prevent degradation.
Furthermore, when breastfeeding directly, the milk’s temperature matches that of the mother’s body. Therefore, a temperature range of 37-37.5 degrees Celsius is ideal for warming milk for nursing babies. Milk at this temperature facilitates easy digestion, nutrient absorption, and allows babies to savor the delicious taste of breast milk.
How long does it take to heat breast milk to 40 degrees Celsius?
The time required for warming breast milk can vary depending on the storage conditions of the milk. Below, we provide a general guideline for warming milk for babies:
- If the milk has been kept at room temperature: 3-5 minutes
- If stored in the refrigerator: 6-8 minutes
- If stored in the freezer: 10 minutes
Several factors can influence the time it takes to warm the milk:
Quantity of Milk: The warming process is influenced by the amount of milk; larger quantities require more time for heat exchange. Warming times may range from 1-2 minutes based on the milk volume. For instance, warming a 200ml bag with warm water takes 5-7 minutes, while a 400ml bag may need 7-10 minutes.
Bottle Material: Glass bottles heat up more slowly compared to plastic ones. However, it’s crucial to note that plastic bottles can release harmful substances such as BPA, BPS, phthalates, microplastics, etc., into the milk when exposed to high temperatures. This poses health risks, including hepatitis, diabetes, malformations, and cancer. To ensure safety, consider using specialized milk storage bottles or bags made from high-quality plastic materials.
Initial Milk Temperature: The starting temperature of the milk impacts the warming time. Here are specific scenarios:
- Freshly pumped breast milk: If the baby cannot breastfeed immediately due to reasons like oral thrush or the mother having a yeast infection, the mother may need to express milk to feed the baby. During cold winter months, breast milk may cool down after approximately 20 minutes of pumping. Therefore, it’s necessary to reheat the milk for 3-5 minutes to achieve the desired temperature for feeding.
- Milk stored in the refrigerator: The temperature inside the refrigerator typically ranges from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, resulting in a longer warming time. In this case, mothers should heat the milk for 6-10 minutes to reach the suitable temperature for breastfeeding.”
How long can breast milk be kept warm at 40 degrees Celsius?
As per recommendations, breast milk should be consumed within 1 hour after being warmed to 40 degrees Celsius using warm water. Beyond this timeframe, the milk’s nutrient quality may degrade. Moreover, if warmed milk is not used promptly, it becomes susceptible to spoilage. The combination of elevated temperature and humidity creates an ideal environment for the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Hence, if the child does not finish the milk within the initial hour, it is advisable for the mother to discontinue its use and refrain from serving it. Providing spoiled milk to the child can lead to digestive issues, such as diarrhea, which can adversely affect the child’s health.
Guidelines for Properly Warming Breast Milk
The method of warming breast milk may vary depending on how it has been stored, and it is important to do so correctly to preserve its nutrients. Here are some commonly used methods for warming breast milk:
Warming Milk Stored in the Refrigerator
When warming milk that has been stored in the refrigerator, it’s crucial not to vigorously shake the bottle before or during the warming process, as this can disrupt the nutrients in the breast milk. Instead, gently swirl the bottle to mix the milk.
To warm the milk using warm water, place the milk container in a bowl filled with water at 40 degrees Celsius and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Afterward, gently swirl the bottle to ensure even heating. Finally, check the milk’s temperature and feed it to your baby.
For a quicker method, you can use a bottle warmer. Fill the warmer’s tray with the recommended amount of water, place the bottle inside, and warm it for approximately 3-5 minutes. Afterward, check the milk’s temperature before feeding your baby.
Warming Frozen Milk
Unlike refrigerated milk, frozen milk is solid and has a longer shelf life, typically ranging from 3 to 6 months. Here’s how to properly warm frozen breast milk:
Step 1: Thaw the milk by placing it in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours until it turns into liquid form. If you need to thaw it more quickly, you can immerse the milk bags in running water.
Step 2: Thoroughly mix the thawed milk to recombine the separated layers.
Step 3: Pour the milk into a glass bottle for warming.
Step 4: You can either use 40-degree warm water to warm the milk for your baby or place the milk directly into a bottle warmer.
Step 5: After 5-7 minutes of warming, you can feed your baby.
Important Notes for Warming Breast Milk
Properly warming breast milk is crucial to preserve its nutrients. Here are some essential tips for mothers to consider:
Check milk quality before heating: Inspect the color, smell, and taste of stored milk before heating it. If the milk has an unusual odor or taste, discard it immediately and do not feed it to your baby.
Avoid reheating milk multiple times: Reheating breast milk multiple times can lead to denaturation and a loss of flavor. Continuous reheating can also cause digestive issues, such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Use the milk within 1 hour: Once breast milk is warmed, it should be consumed within 1 hour to prevent bacterial contamination and maintain its vitamin and mineral content.
Warm milk to 40 degrees Celsius: Heating milk to excessively high temperatures can damage its nutritional structure, while inadequate heating won’t reach the optimal temperature. To preserve the milk’s nutrients, aim for a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius.
Properly warming breast milk ensures that your baby receives nutritious and delicious feedings while minimizing the risk of potential health concerns. We hope these guidelines help mothers warm milk safely and effectively for their little ones.
Johnny Jacks was born in 1985 in Texas, USA. He is the founder of Good Health Plan and is passionate about helping people improve their health and physical well-being. With over a decade of experience working in the healthcare industry, he currently works at Goodheathplan.com – a blog that shares knowledge on beauty and health.