Can Babies Drink Cold Breast Milk?

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Many parents find it convenient to refrigerate breast milk to keep it fresh for later consumption. Many teething babies may also prefer cold milk as it offers relief from pain. However, this raises a common question in the minds of many parents: can babies drink cold milk?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, babies can safely consume cold, warm, or room-temperature milk (1). However, ensure that the milk is not too hot for the baby to avoid scalding.

Can Babies Have Cold Milk?

Your baby can drink breast milk at room temperature or slightly colder. It does not necessarily need to be warm (1). However, there is no evidence-based research on cold milk consumption by the baby. Hence, you should discuss feeding cold milk to your baby with the baby’s pediatrician and then decide according to the baby’s health status and preference between cold and warm milk.

In order to avoid scalding the baby’s mouth, the temperature of the milk should be tested before the feed. Many babies will happily accept milk that is warm or cold. If your baby prefers only warm milk, you can use bottle warmers that work for bottle-feeding or expressed breastmilk (2).

Pros Of Giving Baby Cold Breastmilk Or Formula

Here are some pros of feeding cold breast milk or formula milk to your baby (3):

  • Feeding the baby with cold milk is easier as heating the milk at a low temperature takes longer.
  • Feeding cold milk helps eliminate the risk of overheating the milk, which is not good for the baby, as it may lead to mouth blisters.
  • If the baby is used to drinking cold milk, it makes traveling easier. You can directly give expressed milk or bottle feed and need not worry about warming the milk.

Cons Of Giving Baby Cold Breastmilk Or Formula

Here are some cons of feeding cold milk to your baby (3):

  • If breastfed babies drink warm milk regularly, they may refuse to drink milk from cold bottles.
  • Feeding cold milk to a prematurely born baby may not be a good choice. You should warm up the milk before feeding it to the baby.
  • Sometimes it may be difficult to mix a bottle of cold breast milk properly because the hindmilk and foremilk may separate.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can a baby drink cold milk and achieve optimum weight gain?

Milk is the contributing factor to your baby’s weight gain. Also, there is no evidence saying cold milk can reduce weight gain. However, increasing the amount per feed may help a premature infant become healthier as it nourishes the body and increases their fat intake (4).

2. Can babies drink cold milk when they have a cold?

While there’s no evidence of the side effects of babies drinking cold milk during a cold, you should avoid giving them anything cold if it irritates their throat.

3. Can babies drink cold milk in the middle of the night?

While there is no specific evidence suggesting harm, babies may not be receptive to cold milk in the middle of the night. Cold milk may stimulate a baby to awaken more so than warm milk and it is possible that they may not fall back asleep as easily.

4. Can babies drink milk straight from the fridge?

There is no clear evidence that babies cannot drink milk straight from the refrigerator. However, since babies are sensitive and still building their immune system, it is better to feed moderately cool or warm milk or refer to special health advice (3).

5. Can cold milk cause constipation in babies?

There is no evidence that cold milk causes constipation. Usually it is a component of the mother’s diet in the breastmilk that causes a change to bowel habits. Rice and dairy milk can also be culprits when the baby is moving to solid foods. If your breastfed baby is constipated, review your diet to see if you can highight what may be causing the baby to react this way. Constipation in older or non-breastfed babies is usually due to a diet low in fiber, consumption of too much cow’s milk or dehydration. If constipation continues, contact your pediatrician. (5).

While overheating milk is not detrimental unless it harms the baby’s mouth, warm to cool milk is probably preferable. You can give the baby cold, warm, or room temperature milk. Since breast milk is directly expressed from a warm body, the milk temperature is usually the same as room temperature, i.e., moderately warm.

Key Pointers

  • Most babies can consume warm, slightly cold, or milk at room temperature.
  • Cold milk takes less time to prepare, making traveling with a baby easier.
  • However, if the foremilk and hindmilk are too cold, they will not mix properly.

References:

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Mindy Cockeram

(LCCE, CLEC)
Mindy Cockeram is a Childbirth and Breastfeeding Educator currently residing in Southern California, where she teaches at a non-profit hospital. Her career began after the birth of her second child when she changed career direction and trained as an antenatal teacher with the National Childbirth Trust in London, England. She taught childbirth classes for both the Wimbledon & Wandsworth Branch... more

Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different organizations. Her interest in scientific writing... more