How to thaw frozen breast milk the safe way?

It is incredibly common for parents to store their breast milk in the freezer as this is an ideal solution for building up a bank of milk and saving it for later! But when you’re ready to use that liquid gold that’s been hiding behind the ice cream, how can you make sure you are preserving the nutrients within the milk?

It is essential to know how to thaw breast milk correctly. This is because thawing/defrosting incorrect can negatively affect the nutritional properties of the milk, making it unsafe for your baby. But what are the safe ways to thaw frozen breast milk, and what methods should you avoid? To help you answer these questions we have given you a breakdown below…

You should thaw frozen breast milk…

There are 4 ways to thaw frozen breast milk…

In the fridge

It will take approximately 12 hours to defrost breast milk in the refrigerator. If you know that you will need milk in the morning, move it from the freezer to your fridge in the evening, letting it thaw overnight. We recommend setting up an alert on your phone in the evening or a sticky note on the fridge to remind you to do this!

Under warm running water

Simply hold a bag or bottle of frozen breast milk under warm running water. Start at a low temperature and gradually increase the heat to a maximum of 37 degrees-Celsius.

In a bowl of warm water

You can also place the bag or container of frozen breast milk in a bowl of warm — not hot — water, to act as your very own DIY breast milk warmer.

With the right bottle warmer

When using bottle warmers, frozen breast milk can be particularly sensitive. Many bottle warmers can defrost breast milk, but most traditional bottle warmers use only steam heat, which is too hot and can destroy those all-important breast milk proteins.

If you opt for a bottle warmer, it is important to find one that will preserve milk nutrients. An excellent option is the Baby Brezza Bottle & Breast Milk Warmer – the only warmer with two settings, one for breast milk and another for formula. This is to make sure that both types are safely heated to the right temperature. Meaning that thawing breast milk in a bottle warmer doesn’t have to be a balancing act that puts important nutrients at risk, helping parents do feeding time more safely.

On the Baby Brezza Bottle & Breast Milk Warmer, breast milk is gradually thawed using the ‘Steady Warm’ setting which uses a warm water bath (instead of steam) to safely defrost. The warming basket fits most milk storage bags, plus you’ll never have to worry about overheating thanks to its auto shut-off. If you are also using formula, the ‘Quick Warm’ setting uses steam heat to rapidly and safely warm formula and baby food.

  • Baby Brezza Bottle & Breast Milk Warmer

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You should not thaw frozen breast milk…

In a microwave

Defrosting the milk in the microwave causes the milk to get too hot, which can destroy nutrients and spoil the milk. There’s also a chance the milk will heat unevenly, creating dangerous “hot spots” which could scald your baby’s mouth.

In boiling water

Using boiling water to thaw frozen breast milk will have a similar effect as microwaving it, as the milk will lose beneficial antibodies, and there is a risk of creating heat pockets. 

You should consider that…

Once you thaw breast milk, parents have a small window of time to work with it, whether they go ahead and use it for feeding time or store it for a little longer. After thawing frozen breast milk in a bottle warmer, you can use the milk immediately, leave it out (at room temp) for a maximum of 4 hours, or store it in the refrigerator for another 24 hours.

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