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I'm exclusively breastfeeding my baby, and occasionally give him pumped bottles. I generally try to warm them up before giving them to him, at least to room temperature. (I was once told as a tip to get babies used to room-temperature bottles right away, just in case sometime you don't have a way to heat it up...) Sometimes, though, he is frantically crying as I'm trying to warm up the bottle... Is it ok to give him a cold bottle? He doesn't seem to mind, and drinks the whole thing. Are there any problems with feeding a 2-3 month old a cold bottle?

  • The only problem I had with giving her cold breastmilk is that the stuff separates. Heating helps blend it back together. But I was generally freezing my milk, which increases the separation. – JPmiaou Dec 27 '11 at 15:43
  • Warm it a couple of second (I put 25 sec at 1000W) in the microwave then stir it a bit in the bottle so the hot point moves and so you don't have a couple ml at 100C. The last part is important and the only precaution needed to operate a microwave oven for a baby. Have a look at the WHO website about microwave oven they explain everything. – MakorDal May 1 '16 at 17:09
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The biggest risk is that the baby won't drink it. If your baby is content to drink cold milk, then it is perfectly fine.

I couldn't find any online resources from medical professionals discussing it, but I did find that you are not alone in your situation :) Lots of other mothers have had this same dilemma, and many in that discussion shared that they have not run into any problems (aside from some babies simply not liking their milk cold).

Edit: I found this link which references a chart that indicates how long breast milk can be stored at room temperature. Depending upon your pumping schedule, you may be able to simply keep a bottle out for that "I need food NOW" moment.

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  • That link is a great reference with many questions answered. You could hunt down a few related Q's on this site and add the link there too. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 1 '11 at 7:14
8

I did find research on the effect of milk temperature on preterm infants at http://milkbank.com/pdf/Stanford_Study_milk_feeding_temperature.pdf

A summary of the results included the following statement: The infants in this study had a similar tolerance (as measured by gastric residuals) to both cool temperature milk (10°C) and room temperature milk (24°C). Based on these data, there appears to be no advantage to warming frozen or refrigerated milk to room temperature.

The study did reveal better tolerance for warmed milk for these fragile infants.

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3

Yes, you can feed your baby a room-temperature bottle.
No, you should not feed your baby a fridge-temperature bottle.

The reason is that infants are very small bodies, so temperature differences are more significant to them than to older kids or adults.

Infants can't handle a steaming hot cup of tea, just like they can't handle milk that's just a few degrees above freezing. The closer to the natural body-temperature their food is, the easier they can handle it.

By the way, the same idea applies to bath water. (For bathing, not drinking!)

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  • 3
    TorbenGB, do you have a source for the problem with infants and cold milk? I have been trying to find a reputable reference one way or another, but the most reputable source I can find is the state of Alaska's WIC FAQ. All the other sources are from non-professionals. However, all say that it is fine for an infant to drink cold milk, if they are willing. – user420 Jul 14 '11 at 12:04
  • @Beofett, my answer was personal opinion, sorry for not stating that. My source is some nurse or midwife, back when my wife was expecting. I probably can't find a better source (in English) than you can using Google. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 14 '11 at 14:17
  • Thanks for clearing that up. I would remove my answer if we can find evidence backing that up, as I don't want to provide an answer that has potentially harmful advice. – user420 Jul 14 '11 at 14:26
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    Looking at the WIC FAQ you linked to, the answer "babies can drink cold formula, but formula that is too hot can burn their mouths" is in the context of the question "Is it OK to microwave a bottle to heat it up?". The way I read it, it doesn't really address babiesRyummy's question above. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 14 '11 at 14:33
  • I agree that it is tenuous, at best. I only included it because it was the only mention on the subject I could find by anything more official than blogs and opinions of non-professional parents. I can find plenty of anecdotal evidence saying direct from the refrigerator is okay, but I don't trust anecdotal evidence. – user420 Jul 14 '11 at 14:44
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I can't provide any supporting evidence, but I can tell you that at my very first pediatrician appointment with my first son, I had this exact conversation with my pediatrician.

I live in Southern California (a warm climate anyway) and my son was born in the summer, so the weather was quite warm. My son started fussing a bit, and I was having typical new mom anxiety because I didn't have anyway to warm his bottle (I wasn't good enough at breastfeeding to do that in public yet). I asked my pediatrician if they had some way I could warm the bottle, and his response "Would you want to drink something warm when it is this hot outside? I bet your son would also prefer his drinks cold."

That was the last time I heated any bottle for either of my kids.

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