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How to Thaw Frozen Breast Milk the Safe Way

So you’ve been storing your breast milk in the freezer and are now ready to use that liquid gold that’s been hiding behind the ice cream. Defrosting it correctly is essential. Improper thawing can negatively affect the nutritional properties of the milk and make it unsafe for your baby. What are the safe ways to thaw frozen breast milk, and what methods should you avoid? We give you the breakdown.

You CAN thaw frozen breast milk…

In the fridge

It takes approximately 12 hours to defrost breast milk in the refrigerator. Know you will need milk in the morning? Move it from the freezer to your fridge in the evening and let it thaw overnight. 

Under warm running water

Hold a bag or bottle of frozen breast milk under warm running water. Start at a lower temperature and gradually increase the heat to a maximum of 99 degrees F. 

In a bowl of warm water

Place your bag or container of frozen breast milk in a bowl of warm — not hot — water. 

With the right bottle warmer

Bottle warmers can defrost breast milk, but traditional bottle warmers use only steam heat, which is too hot and can destroy those all-important breast milk proteins. Look for a bottle warmer that will preserve milk nutrients. An excellent option is the Baby Brezza Safe + Smart Baby Bottle Warmer. It’s the only warmer with two settings -- one for breast milk and another for formula -- to ensure both are safely heated to the right temperature. 

For breast milk, the Steady Warm setting uses a warm water bath (instead of steam) to safely defrost breast milk. The warming basket fits most milk storage bags, plus you’ll never have to worry about overheating thanks to its auto shut-off. 

For formula, the Quick Warm setting uses steam heat to rapidly and safely warm formula and baby food. 

Even better -- it’s the only smart warmer so you can operate it from your phone with bluetooth using the FREE Baby Brezza app and get alerts when your bottle is ready. 

You SHOULD NOT thaw frozen breast milk...

In a microwave

Defrosting the milk in the microwave can cause 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. The milk will lose beneficial antibodies, and there is a risk of creating heat pockets. 

Keep in mind:

Once thawed, breast milk can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. If kept at room temperature, it should be used within two hours or thrown away. Stanford Children’s Health has other guidelines for thawing and using frozen breast milk. 

Baby Feeding & Formula Prep

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