Best Way To Thaw, Warm And Use Breastmilk – 2024 Guide

The basic and complete nutrient your infant needs is Breast Milk. It has all the necessary nutrients that a baby needs for the first six months of life. Of course, this is just one of the benefits of breast milk. However, while some women prefer to feed their baby directly, others pump the milk to be stored and used later.

Breast milk is oftentimes stored in the freezer until it becomes frozen. The problem afterward is how to defrost or thaw the frozen expressed milk. Also, it is important to know how to use the thawed milk so as to avoid contamination. Here is what you should find out:

Is breast milk storage safe?

Without a doubt, baby formula is not really suitable for your precious baby. This is why many moms opt for breast milk. Nevertheless, storing breast milk in the refrigerator can make it lose its quality. Therefore, breast milk storage is not really suitable for a child most, especially when you don’t follow the steps on how to go about it.

What is the difference between freshly expressed milk and refrigerated breast milk?

Newly pumped milk is high in antioxidants, vitamins, and fat. It equally has a better bacteria-fighting property than stored milk.

What happens when you store breast milk?

Expressed breast milk when stored, ends with the cream staying on top and so it is best to shake the milk gently before use so as to restore its nutrients. You should not shake it vigorously as this can affect its nutrients.

How should you use the stored breast milk and how much can you store?

Usually, feeding directly from a cup or bottle can invite bacteria into the milk. This is why you should make sure that the surrounding where your child is about to feed is clean and free from leftover milk. Therefore, it is advisable that breast milk is stored in small quantities to prevent waste and introduction of bacteria.

What are the proper ways of storing breast milk?

Since storing breast milk can make it lose some of its value, it is important to take a hygienic approach to it. Apart from pumping in small quantities, it is not too much to label the bottles noting the date it was expressed.

Where can I store breast milk?

You can either choose to store in the refrigerator or freezer. Most women store in the freezer so that it can last longer.

Storing breast milk in the refrigerator

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If this is new for you, make sure you follow the guidelines for storing breast milk below carefully. This way, you will be able to avoid any bacterial contaminations.
To avoid contaminations, plan ahead. Wash the bottles or breast milk coolers you want to store the breast milk in.

Note: ensure that these materials are free from BPA – a chemical substance that was initially used to produce plastics. Although most companies are not using it anymore, it is safe to make sure that all your material is free from this toxic substance.

Place the expressed milk inside the fridge immediately after pumping.
Don’t add freshly expressed milk directly into the cooled one inside the fridge. You can only do this if the new milk is also cooled. Furthermore, make sure that these additions are in small quantities.

Don’t store the breast milk in the part of the refrigerator where there is little or no cold. You will find the back of the refrigerator suitable for storing the milk as it is always cold

Storing breast milk in the freezer

Storing breast milk inside a freezer will definitely freeze the content. Therefore before going ahead, understand that some bottles or bags that you want to use may crack due to the freezing temperature. Products made with glass will yield to the low temperature, so check if your bottle can store your milk in the freezer to avoid waste. Some bottles are freezer-proof and can withstand the temperature.

To store breast milk in a freezer:

  • Wash the bottle or bag you wish to use for storing. Do this before pumping.
  • Make sure you place the bottle or breast milk cooler inside the freezer immediately after pumping.
  • You can add fresh breast milk into the one inside the freezer only if it is cooled already. It is not suitable to add normal temperature expressed milk to cold milk.
  • If you want to waste your breast milk every now and then, it is advisable to store in little portions. The recommended portion should be less than 60 ml. You can choose to pour the little portions together after thawing.
  • Liquids expand when frozen so, it is best not to fill the bottles to the brim. This will prevent it from breaking or cracking.
  • Keep the bottle of milk in strategic places inside the freezer where the temperature is constant but don’t rest the bottle on the walls.

Note: the breast milk should be frozen after 12 hours after which you can thaw whenever you need it.

What is thawing?

Breast Milk can get frozen when kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Of course, this cannot be given to the child, and so you have to heat the milk to melt or thaw it.
Is it safe and okay to thaw breast milk?
Thawing or melting frozen breast milk is safe if you abide by the heating rules. The nutrients in the breast milk are maintained by thawing, and hence, the milk remains fresh.

How can I thaw frozen breast milk?

Before storing the expressed milk in a refrigerator, you should have labeled each bottle, stating the date it was pumped. After the milk is frozen, to thaw:

  • Start with the bottle of milk you first pumped and stored in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t thaw expressed milk at room temperature.
  • Don’t thaw at high temperatures. Thawing inside boiling water or in a microwave can make it too hot and hence spoil the milk.

Warm your baby’s milk after thawing and make sure you use it immediately. It is advisable to speak with your specialist for a full guide on thawing. This is because most of the instructions here are specifically for infants without any health issues and grown toddlers.

You can thaw your frozen expressed milk through three ways:

  • By placing in a refrigerator
  • By placing it in a bowl of warm water
  • By holding it under running water that is warm

How can I Thaw with a refrigerator?

This method will take up to half a full day which is why you must be ready for it. If you are heading for work in the morning, simply place the frozen expressed milk in the refrigerator during the evening of the previous day.

If you are just trying it for the first time, here is how to go about it: Take the frozen bottle out of the freezer and simply put it inside the fridge. You will have to wait for 12 hours for the solid expressed milk to turn into liquid. Afterward, ensure that the defrosted milk is used within a day. It is not safe to use or refreeze thawed milk after 24 hours.

How can I thaw in a bowl of warm water?

This method is fast and suitable for busy moms as it will not take up to 30 minutes before the frozen milk is defrosted. Nevertheless, you should remember that you are using warm and not hot water. This process is even faster if you continually change the warm water in the bowl anytime you notice the loss in temperature.

Start by pouring warm water in a bowl that would fit the bottle. Make sure that the top of the frozen bottle is not immersed in the warm water as it is not hygienic. Replace the water with fresh warm water every time you notice that it is cooled. Repeat this process until the solid milk turns to its liquid form. You can feed your infant directly or store it in the refrigerator for later use.

How can I thaw breast milk under running water?

Thawing breast milk under warm running water is even faster than the rest. This is because you won’t have to change the warm water. All you have to do is place the frozen milk in the bottle under a warm running tap. Simply begin the process by holding the bottle under running water that is initially cold, and afterward, you can make it warmer. Continue to hold the bottle under this tap until the content melts.

When the breast milk is thawed, should I warm it and how?

There is nothing wrong with giving your baby the thawed breast milk straight from the refrigerator. However, most women prefer to warm it to room temperature before use. To warm it up, simply put in a bowl of warm water for a while or hold it under a warm faucet. You can also use the bottle warmer

Note: you should not forget to shake the defrost breast milk gently so that the layers that developed during freezing mixes. In addition to this, the milk should be at room or body temperature before you give it to your child. Pour some on your hand to be certain of this.

Why you should never use a microwave or stove

The major reason you must not use a microwave or stove is the excessive heat which can kill some key nutrients which can be found in the expressed milk. The heat from the microwave and stove is not uniform, and this will create some hot spots within the milk. This alone can injure your child’s throat.

Putting the bottle of frozen milk in a pot of boiling water on a stove is not advisable as well. Although the heating might be even this time, it will certainly lead to overheating. This will destroy healthy constituents of the milk as it can also make the milk so hot for the tender infant’s throat.

Why thawed milk taste funny?

Defrosted breast milk often taste soapy and sour, which will not feel good to any mother. This funny metallic taste originates from an enzyme known as lipase. During storage or freezing, this enzyme which can be found in the milk disintegrates fats in the milk.

What does the sour taste of thawed milk mean?

The fatty acid released from this process will prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria in the milk. Your child might not like this taste, and the innocent infant could reject it. However, this does not mean that it is spoilt or useless. If you have followed the process correctly, it is safe regardless of the smell, but you don’t have to force your baby to drink it.

How can I safely handle warmed expressed milk?

If you don’t handle your baby’s breast milk with care, it can quickly spoil or get contaminated with bacteria around. To use the warmed milk safely, follow the tips below carefully. After defrosting or thawing, you either choose to feed your baby directly or place it in a refrigerator for four hours.

Do not allow the warm expressed milk to leave the body or normal temperature.
Do not put it inside the freezer again and so, if your child does not finish a particular bottle, dispose of it immediately.


Storing breast milk in the freezer is a wonderful time saver. In times of emergency, you will have peace of mind knowing that there are one or two bottles of frozen milk that you can easily thaw and use. Also, it is a good decision, especially in times when you are tired to pumped or feed your baby directly.

However, understanding the process of thawing and using the stored milk is very important as knowing how to pump and store the milk. With the instructions provided, it is certain that your baby’s breast milk will always be safe to use whenever needed.

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