How to warm up refrigerated breast milk

As we saw, refrigerated breastmilk is one of the most common options for busy mothers. Storing it correctly in the refrigerator is essential, but how you warm it up is also crucial. If you don’t heat the breastmilk correctly, you might damage it right before feeding your baby.

This page refers to milk stored in the fridge and not milk that was frozen. It is important to know the difference as frozen milk will have to be defrosted first.

However, if you choose to defrost your breastmilk by keeping it in the fridge for 12 hours, you will be able to apply the following tips.


How to warm up refrigerated breast milk?

There are a few methods to warm up the refrigerated breast milk, namely manual methods or using bottle warmers. We will review some of the widely used options by nursing moms.

Manual Warm Up Methods

Manual breast milk thawing

The first thing you will need to do is get the milk out of the refrigerator.

  • Heat up a bowl of water without boiling it. The water should be warm, but right below the boiling point.
  • Place the milk bag or the milk bottle in the bowl with warm water. You should allow it around 2 minutes to sit there, properly sealed.
  • However, some babies prefer their milk warmer or colder. So, you will have to get it to the temperature that your little one prefers.
  • Another way to warm milk up is by holding the bottle under running hot water. If you do this, it will take longer than the previous option.

Can You Refrigerate Thawed Breast Milk?

If you defrost too much milk and you are left with a quantity that your baby can’t finish eating, can you refrigerate thawed breast milk? Find the answers here.

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Mixing breast milk from different days/sessions is another thing new mothers ask about. Can you mix breast milk from different days? Find the answers here.

How Long After Thawing Breast Milk Can It Be Used?

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How To Warm Up Refrigerated Breast Milk? 1

Automatic Bottle Warmers

Best bottle warmers

You can also go for a bottle warmer. This is not one of the “musts” that you need to have, but such an item can definitely help you.

  • A bottle warmer is an excellent alternative to the microwave, which is not recommended for heating up breastmilk.
  • The bottle warmer is safe and very easy to use. You can put the bottle or the milk bag inside the device and warm it up in a matter of minutes.
  • You can find bottle warmers with different functions such as a defrost feature, warming feature as well as different sizes.
  • As a general rule, a medium-sized bottle will take less than 3 minutes to warm up in a bottle warmer.
  • If you are considering to invest in such a product, check the type of bottles it is compatible with.
  • Some will not heat up glass bottles, while others will not be wide enough for all bottle sizes.
  • These devices come at all price ranges so, as long as you know what you are looking for, you will find just what you need within your budget.
  • It will help you a lot, though, to choose a bottle warmer with an automatic shut off function. That way, you don’t have to track time and risk overheating the milk.

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How To Warm Up Refrigerated Breast Milk? 1

To make sure that the breastmilk is at the proper temperature, you can try it on your wrist. Your wrist is sensitive enough to detect heat.

As tempting as it might seem, don’t try the milk with your finger. This could add germs to it and contaminate it.

You have many options to choose from when it comes to heating up breastmilk, and once you get used to a way that works for you, this will just be part of the feeding routine!

How To Warm Up Refrigerated Breast Milk? 1

Key References
  • “Human Milk Warming Temperatures Using a Simulation of Currently Available Storage and Warming Methods. – PubMed – NCBI”. Accessed March 02, 2020. Link.
  • “Storage of breast milk: effect of temperature and storage duration on microbial growth. – PubMed – NCBI”. Accessed March 02, 2020. Link.
  • “Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk | Breastfeeding | CDC”. Accessed March 02, 2020. Link.


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