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I often read the recommendation that milk for newborns and infants (breast milk or infant formula milk) should have body temperature (~ 37°C). Usually, this recommendation is just stated as a fact (without scientific reasoning) or with some useless "generic" reasoning ("It's best for your baby", etc.).

Hence, my question: Will bad things happen if milk is fed at room temperature (20-25°C) instead? If yes, which bad things? If not, why is body temperature recommended?

Note: I do know that milk (breast milk or infant formula) should not be "old", due to bacterial growth. That is not the question. I am asking about "freshly prepared" milk.

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    Probably has to do with what they are accustomed to (mother's milk is that temperature), their bodies being able to handle ingesting stuff at their same temperature more easily (doesn't mess with their own immature internal temperature control processes), and flavor. Cold food/beverages are going to taste flatter than something warmed up (the difference between ice cold ale and one that is a bit warmer, for instance), just because the taste buds sense differently at the warmer temperatures. Our taste buds are more active as foods are warmer. Science, not anecdote for that. – PoloHoleSet Aug 30 '16 at 19:05
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There is no scientific basis to the idea that cold milk would upset a baby's stomach more than warmed milk.

Per the CDC:

Breast milk does not need to be warmed. It can be served room temperature or cold.

However, the CDC recommends to

Swirl the breast milk to mix the fat, which may have separated.

Cold milk will release less of it's aromatics. For breast milk when the mother has been on a bland diet, this can cause chilled milk to be less enticing to a baby. Most babies prefer a bottle due to the ease at which they can extract the milk and is one of the greatest causes of failure for those who want to breast feed, thus anything one can do to make bottle feeding less comfortable for them (such as feeding them cold milk) is often cited as an advantage in a breastfeeding plan.

Conversely, mothers consuming pungent foods such as onions, curries, asparagus etc will often see a decrease in the baby's desire to feed due to the pungent aromatics making their way into the breast milk. Chilling the milk will help mask these chemicals.

  • I have read the links. The first compared fresh to frozen-then-thawed breast milk (which is quite different from simply warmed milk.) The second does not support the misleading statement. The third had no text to support your assertion. I've corrected the post to more accurately reflect the literature you specifically cited. If you have questions, please feel free to ping me in chat. – anongoodnurse Jan 11 at 2:25
  • Please retract your edits. On the OWH page I linked to under "Storage: Tips for thawing and warming up milk" it clearly states "Breastmilk does not need to be warmed. Some moms prefer to serve it at room temperature. Some moms serve it cold." and "Swirl the milk to mix the fat, which may have separated. Do not shake the milk." I agree the other article was a bit weak, but you don't need to be a scientist to see the fat separate in breast milk and stick to the sides of the bottle: community.babycenter.com/post/a23911333/… – virtualxtc Jan 11 at 5:46
  • This is already stated in your CDC link. The answer now is clearer, and more reflective of the literature you yourself cited. Redacting would make this answer unnecessarily confusing (especially given your misinterpretation of the first paper.) Please just let it be. – anongoodnurse Jan 11 at 9:14
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As far as cold milk I wouldn't recommend that, especially for young babies. Their tummies are sensitive, plus their body does use energy to bring that fluid to body temperature to be used. Room temperature is fine but you do want to knock the chill off cold milk out of the fridge.

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    You should never put breastmilk or formula in the microwave, even if you plan to swirl it. Instead, microwave a cup of water, to quite hot if you want, then float the bottle w/milk in the hot water. Check often. Swirl to circulate the milk. When a drop of milk is undetectable, or slightly cool, to the inside of the wrist, milk is the “right” temp. – Jax Aug 25 at 17:18
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There is nothing to worry about when feeding cold milk to your child. My daughter is three months four on the 7th of Sept. As soon as she started drinking cold milk I actually took every chance I could to do so because it took to long to make a bottle for my daughter. By the time I got half way done she would be screaming on the top of her lungs because I was not making it fast enough. My mother did the same, so I was confused when her other grandmother started telling me that she needed food that was warm. My daughters doctor has no problem with it and my two oldest brothers were perfectly fine. Though if your child is a newborn he/she probably would not like it. We had tried it with my little one when she came back from the hospital (3 days later) and she disliked it to the point she cried. Plus, newborns have a harder time keeping their bodies warm. If you dislike needing to make it right when your little one is hungry pre-make it, put in the refrigerator then take it out a while before you child is hungry to warm it up. Formula can stay out up to an hour and I have heard breast milk can stay out for six hour (do not hold me on that) or thats what my nurse told me in the hospital.

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This is an ‘old wives tale’ I reckon. Years ago we didn’t have central heating and it would be difficult for the baby to maintain their temperature regarding the cold milk. Now we have central heating, so giving cold milk is absolutely fine. No need to faf about.

I know over 6 parents that I have spoken to and they fed their babies cold milk. The babies didn’t die and were absulotly fine. If you want piece of mind then warm it up but scientifically there is nothing to say the milk needs to be warm or will have an affect on their stomach.

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    Hi and welcome to Parenting.SE! Please take the tour and read the help center. You write "scientifically there is nothing to say" but what is this based on? You cite no scientific evidence in your answer. – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Aug 21 at 20:47

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