Trying to respond to babies’ needs can be tiring and overwhelming, that’s why most mamas have asked themselves the ultimate feeding question: Can babies drink cold milk?
Yes, they absolutely can.
The ideal temperature for baby’s milk is considered to be (without any real proof) 98.5 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37 degrees Celsius.
However, studies have shown that babies can have cold milk without it causing any harm, even though many babies prefer to have warmer milk rather than cold.
Still, there are many things to think about before you choose to feed your baby a cold bottle of milk.
Each type of milk will slightly change when cold, so your decision about whether to give your baby cold milk will depend on which kind of milk they are having, formula, breast milk, cow’s milk or goat milk.
Naturally, we’re assuming that you’re bottle-feeding your baby since the milk that comes directly from your breast is always at its optimal temperature.
COLD BREAST MILK
It’s safe to give your baby cold breast milk, assuming that your baby likes it.
If your little one doesn’t refuse the cold bottle, there’s nothing stopping you from feeding them one.
Babies who both breastfeed and drink their breast milk from the bottle might prefer to have the milk warmer or at least at room temperature.
It’s important to note that when I talk about the temperature of the milk and I say it’s ‘cold’, I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean frozen.
Frozen milk doesn’t have a liquid consistency and baby’s milk should always be completely liquid.
When we say ”cold” we actually mean room temperature or straight out of the fridge, but never frozen.
When giving your baby cold breast milk, there’s one particularly important thing to pay attention to.
If you’re regularly pumping, you’ve probably noticed how the fat layer of the milk separates itself from the rest of the liquid when it cools down.
It’s important that you’re able to mix that fat back into the milk so the baby can drink it since it offers nutrition and it’s crucial for the baby to have it.
If you can’t mix the fat layer in (that’s usually the case when the milk comes straight from the fridge), you might want to warm it up slightly by running the bottle under hot tap water or letting it rest for a couple of minutes in hot water.
Shaking the bottle usually helps with this, too.
Still, it’s important to note that it’s unwise to leave breast milk at room temperature for too long. If you’re on the go, I recommend using breast milk coolers that keep your pumped milk supply safe.
When it comes to baby formula, the answer varies slightly depending on what you consider to be cold milk.
It’s important to note that it’s unwise to prepare a warm formula (for example if you’re going out) and leave it at room temperature for two hours or more.
It loses its nutrients and it isn’t adequate food for your baby.
To keep the formula safe, keep it in the fridge or use an ice pack if you’re on the go. It’s okay to give your baby cold formula, but most babies don’t like it.
Heating up formula is different from heating up breast-milk. It’s unwise to heat cold formula in the microwave since this kind of heating process can create ”hot spots” in the milk that might burn your baby’s mouth.
The safe and healthy way to heat infant formula is to heat it on the stove in a pot of hot water. After heating, it’s important to vigorously shake the bottle so the heat distributes evenly.
If you’re on the go, it would probably be easier for you to use a portable bottle warmer to ease the process.
COLD COW’S MILK
So, can babies drink cold milk from cows or other alternatives to cow’s milk?
It’s perfectly fine to give your baby a bottle/sippy cup/cup of cold cow’s milk.
Giving your baby cow’s milk is mostly advised from around the age of 12 months, and by this time it’s wise to offer it to your baby in a sippy cup so they can start the process of learning to drink out of something that’s not a bottle.
While most children will prefer drinking warm milk even at this age (many adults prefer drinking warm milk as well), it’s perfectly safe for them to drink it cold.
Just like breast milk, it can be slightly heated up by soaking the cup in warm water or running it under hot tap water.
If you think your baby might have cow’s milk allergies or an intolerance to it, talk to your pediatrician about alternatives to cow’s milk.
Can a baby drink cold milk and achieve optimum weight gain?
There’s a risk that your little one won’t get the same amount of nutrients from cold milk as they will from warm milk.
This is especially true when we’re talking about cold breast milk vs. warm breast milk.
As explained above, the fat layer from the milk gets separated in the process of cooling and it’s important to make sure that it gets mixed back in.
Another factor that determines if your baby will achieve optimum weight drinking cold milk is the amount of cold milk they are willing to take.
Most babies, even if they are willing to drink a cold baby bottle, drink a smaller amount of milk than they would if it were warm milk.
This affects the number of nutrients they consume overall and can affect their weight gain.
If your baby drinks the same amount of cold as they would warm milk, there’s probably no reason for their weight gain to suffer.
Just make sure to track your baby’s progress carefully, you can do it at home with a baby scale.
Can babies drink cold milk when they have a cold?
Giving your baby a warm bottle when they’re sick is probably a better idea than giving them a cold one.
When your baby’s upper respiratory system is filled with mucus, heat helps thin it and bring it out.
Most pediatricians would advise giving your baby as many warm liquids as possible, water, milk, tea… depending on your little one’s age.
Giving your baby warm milk is probably more soothing to their aching mouths and throats that are super sensitive when they have a cold, so it’s probably best to warm their milk up if this is the case.
Can newborns drink cold milk at all?
Even though it seems weird to give your newborn baby a cold bottle, it’s perfectly fine. That is if your baby is okay with it.
In fact, newborns usually put up less of a struggle when changing their milk-drinking habits because they haven’t had the time to get completely used to one way of drinking their milk.
Paying attention to your baby’s weight gain is particularly important when they are a newborn, so it might be best to stick to warm milk if you’re having any doubts.
Can babies drink cold milk in the middle of the night?
Breastfeeding as well as the baby’s bottle have always been a huge part of the baby’s falling asleep process.
Many babies have their bottles as a part of their nighttime routine.
When your baby bottle feeds, it could be a bit trickier to go through night time feeds than it is with a breastfeeding baby.
You might have been wondering if it’s okay to give your baby a cold bottle at night, in order to ease the routine.
There are theories that drinking milk before bed helps people sleep better and fall asleep easier.
That’s usually true for most babies, but does the temperature of the milk play a role in this?
That remains inconclusive. The best thing to do is to try both on your baby and see what happens to be the best choice for them.
Aside from missing out on the benefit of better sleep that supposedly comes with drinking warm milk, your baby won’t miss out on anything by drinking a cold bottle.
The important thing to remember is to always burp your baby after eating, even when it’s not convenient (such as at night).
This way they’ll be able to sleep safe and sound without their tummies bothering them with gas.
Can a baby have frozen milk?
Even though the main question of this article is ‘Can babies drink cold milk?’ this one could also be interesting.
This question might have shocked you, but in fact, frozen milk can be used to relieve a baby’s teething pains. In fact, it’s one of the best remedies for teething.
The trick is to find baby-sized popsicle molds, then pour breast-milk or infant formula in them.
When they’re good and frozen give them to your baby to suck on. The cold will help numb their sore gums and the pressure will help with the pain and itching they are feeling.
Make sure you use these popsicles in an age-appropriate way so you don’t create a security hazard for your baby.
Cold Milk For Baby Stomach Ache
Believe it or not, it is safe to give your baby cold milk. Parents have grown into this myth that a baby’s milk must be warm to a specific temperature.
However, it is not entirely true. Giving your baby warm milk is more of a personal preference for both the baby and the parent.
That said, a cold bottle will not cause your little one any stomach aches. In fact, cold foods can help relieve the pain of a baby who is teething.
What You Need To Know About Cold Bottle Feeding
Now that we have established it is safe to feed your baby cold milk, below is what you need to know about bottle-feeding your little one.
1. Why warm milk?
So what’s the best temp for the child? Some mummies will swear by the warm milk, and rightly so if it works for them.
Others believe breast milk causes their baby to sleep and relax.
If your baby is more familiar with breastfeeding, they might appreciate warm milk more than cold milk.
Warming bottle milk is more of making your baby feel like they are breastfeeding. Still, cold milk should not be an issue for their health.
However, you do not have to warm your baby’s milk even if you get it straight from the fridge.
The next time you wake up late in the night to feed your baby, how about you skip the warming up and save some time?
2. The stomach upset
As mentioned, it is safe to give your baby a cold bottle. However, it is also important to note that babies are different, just like adults.
Therefore, whatever works for your friend’s baby might not work for you.
It’s worth noting that most stomach upsets result from the baby suckling more air than necessary into its stomach.
So it’s essential to check the bottle tops and nipples for any pinholes and bottle tops for a solid seal. This could allow too much air while your baby is suckling.
Indigestion is another cause of colics which may be commonly due to your little one’s immature gut.
Also, if your child is feeding on formula feeds, they stand a higher chance of abdominal discomforts.
If your baby has a stomach ache for unexplained reasons, consider seeking medical attention.
3. Overheating the milk
If you want to warm your baby’s milk, ensure that you do not overheat it. Overheating destroys the nutritional benefits and immune factors.
How about heating with a microwave? You should never heat breast milk in a microwave. Why? Because it heats unevenly.
Even if you test the temperatures of the milk on your arm, your baby could still burn their mouth and esophagus.
Scary, right? It’s safe to avoid using the microwave for your baby’s milk, both breast and formula milk.
You can use a bottle warmer or hot water bath but be cautious not to overheat.
Read more in a related post:
Will a cold bottle cause stomach ache? No, cold milk is okay for your little one.
You can now stop worrying and losing sleep over it, and take this opportunity to save some of your sleeping time.
If you have to feed your baby in the middle of the night, you can rest easy knowing you don’t have to spend half an hour warming the milk.
Is Cold Breast Milk Bad For Baby
Since breast milk has to be stored in the fridge, it’s totally normal to wonder whether your baby needs their bottle warmed up before feeding (or, if they’re in the middle of a hangry tantrum, if they can safely drink it chilled). Many moms dedicate themselves to breastfeeding and pumping to make sure their baby is getting all those nutrients known to exist in breast milk, so it’s important to know how temperature affects the milk. Spoiler alert: it can mess with the milk’s healthy fats.
If you’re wondering if you can give your baby cold breast milk, the short answer is actually yes, according to breastfeeding experts. In doing so, however, it’s important to know that there are a few factors or problems you may run into. Although it is generally safe and healthy for moms to give their babies cold breast milk, it can present some challenges, like not being your baby’s favorite way to enjoy a midnight beverage.
The Fat Layer May Not Mix Well
Jody Segrave-Daly, IBCLC and co-founder of The Fed Is Best Foundation, tells Romper in an interview that, in cold milk, the fat can separate from the rest of the liquid. Those calories are important for babies, so it’s best to eyeball your breast milk and make sure everything is mixed together well.
“The fat in breast milk will adhere to the sides of the bottle and your baby may not receive all the calories he needs,” says Segrave-Daly. “I think breast milk should be at least run under hot water to release the fat that adheres to the container’s side. Giving it a gentle swirl will also help disperse the fat. We want babies, especially younger babies who rely on breast milk nutrition exclusively, to receive as much fat as possible from the container.”
Your Baby May Refuse It, Or Drink Less
If your baby is really uncomfortable or just not used to cold breast milk, they may refuse the bottle at first or drink less. Healthline noted that some babies may just prefer warmer milk that’s closer to body temperature. If this is the case, you can try introducing milk to your baby at a slightly cooler temperature, gradually, until they’re used to it.
“I also know babies have a preference for the milk temperature and they will quickly tell you if they like it,” says Segrave-Daly. “I think it’s important to educate parents about how to take the chill off and how to appropriately warm up milk to preserve the integrity of its composition. According to recent research, ‘breast milk is composed of cells, nutrients, and proteins beneficial to neonates, it is undoubtedly important for milk to be handled and upheld appropriately so that all components are functional, intact, and viable.’”
If your baby is accustomed to drinking cool milk, or just doesn’t mind it even if it’s their first time, feeding them refrigerated milk could be a totally normal process.