Breast milk is essential for the growth and development of a newborn. If you are a working mom or a busy parent of an infant, then you are always lookout for easy methods without compromising the nutrition of the baby.
Microwaving breastmilk in a baby bottle is one of those conveniences. But, is it ok to do so?
Can you microwave breast milk in a baby bottle? Due to the degraded nutritional value, uneven heating, and hot spots that risk burning the baby’s throat or mouth, microwaving breast milk in a baby bottle is not recommended by many experts.
This article explains the inherent risk of microwaving breast milk in a baby bottle and what dangers are in play. Let us take a look at some aspects of heating breastmilk in a baby bottle in a microwave to get a deeper understanding.
Can You Microwave Breast Milk?
It is not recommended to microwave breast milk as it results in uneven heating with hotspots that quickly develop in the milk. Breastmilk begins to deteriorate at a temperature around 104 degrees Fahrenheit and above, resulting in damaging effects to the nutrients, antibodies, amino acids, proteins, probiotics, and immunoglobulins.
Microwaving results in uneven heating within the breastmilk or any food placed within the appliance. Since the degradation starts at 104 degrees Fahrenheit, one might think that microwaving below this temperature is safer.
However, the case is not so since microwaves heat with inconsistency. As a result, some parts of the breast milk in the baby bottle get hotter much quicker than other sections of the milk.
The milk is impacted thereby due to this uneven heating. The milk is lukewarm at this temperature, but some parts of the liquid will be heated beyond the degradation point.
It is best to microwave a bowl of water until hot, then placing the bottle with breastmilk into the hot water bath to gradually warm up.
Does microwaving breast milk destroy nutrients?
Breastmilk comprises of essential nutrients and antibodies along with stem cells, a type of living cells. Microwaving breastmilk can be harmful to these components when heated beyond a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heating in a microwave can be inconsistent and uneven, this is why microwaving breastmilk is not recommended. A microwave works on a molecular level by inducing heat in water molecules of the substance.
Breastmilk is a sensitive baby food that needs gentle treatment. It has proteins, plenty of living cells, vital nutrients, and immunoglobulins required to nourish a healthy immune system for the baby.
When the excessive heat hits these living cells, they harm them, make the immunoglobulins dysfunctional and denature the bioactive proteins. The building molecules and amino acids present in the breast milk are lost when the liquid is heated beyond their capacity.
Microwave breast milk myth
It is a myth that breastmilk in a baby bottle should be warmed in a microwave. Baby bottles need not be warmed. A bit of warmth assists the fat within the pumped breastmilk but it should not be heated above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and there’s no need for a long warming procedure.
Warming a baby bottle filled with breastmilk in a microwave can be harmful in fact. Due to uneven heating, it generates hotspots that are not identified even with the wrist test.
The hot liquid, in turn, can scald the baby’s mouth or throat. It is best to warm water in a microwave and then place the bottle of breastmilk in the hot water bath until it reaches an approximate body temperature.
Tips for heating a baby bottle in a microwave
It is not recommended to microwave breastmilk in a baby bottle. However, a few tips can come in handy in emergencies.
Breast milk is at a temperature of about 99 deg F or 37 deg C when it is in its natural state. So, a temperature below this can be warmed to the natural temperature and not beyond it.
Follow these tips when microwaving the breastmilk:
- Fill a microwave-safe glass or ceramic cup half way with water, and microwave for 2 minutes.
- The water quantity should be able to accommodate the baby bottle without displacing water above the rim of the cup.
- Place the baby bottle in the hot water bath, and swirl the bottle around.
- Do the wrist test after shaking the bottle gently.
- Do not over shake the bottle vigorously as it can fill the milk with air and cause the baby to have excess gas and feel blotted.
- Shake the bottle gently, swirl the contents or invert it around 10 times, check the temperature and then feed the baby with the warmed breast milk.
Microwave breast milk for 10 seconds
The concept of breast milk to be microwaved for 10 seconds depends on the amount of the milk. It is essential not to warm lesser than 4oz. of breast milk in the microwave for the reason that it enhanced the danger of scalding the baby’s throat or mouth.
4oz. baby bottles can be warmed for 10 seconds or less while 8 oz. for 20 seconds or less at full power. Invert the bottle a few times after placing the nipple on top to equalize the temperature of the liquid and eliminate any hotspots.
Microwaving breastmilk past a temperature (over 104 deg) can harm the breastmilk in many ways:
- Damage or reduction of anti-inflammatory and immunologic components like lactoferrin protein, SIgA antibodies, and lysozyme, and the natural biodiverse infection shield.
- Damage of probiotic bacteria advantageous to the baby.
- Damage of white blood cells.
- Decrease of fat content necessary for the growth of an infant.
- Digestive enzymes are destroyed.
How to warm breast milk from the fridge in the microwave?
Breastmilk stored in the fridge is at a colder temperature than its original natural state, and may be more enjoyable after a little warming to adjust the temperature. There are certain steps to be followed when microwaving the breastmilk from the fridge.
Warming breastmilk stored in the fridge in a microwave involved the following steps:
- Take the stored breast milk out of the fridge.
- Take a microwave-safe container and add sufficient water that can dip the baby bottle in it without forcing the water out.
- Heat the water for about 2 minutes on high.
- Place the breastmilk baby bottle without the nipple into the hot water bath.
- Leave the bottle of breast milk in the water bath for 5 minutes to gradually increase the milk to the desired temperature.
- Swirl the bottle every minute or so to equalize the temperature.
- Remove the bottle from the hot water and place the nipple on top.
- Invert the bottle a few times to make the temperature even.
- Test the temperature of the milk by placing a drop on your wrist.
- Double check the temperature before feeding the baby the warmed breastmilk to ensure the right temperature of warming.
Microwaving Breast Milk in a Bottle: Final Thoughts
So, it is not recommended to microwave breastmilk in a baby bottle. This is primarily because of uneven heating, hot spots that can scald a baby’s throat and mouth, deterioration of nutrients, antibodies, probiotics, digestive enzymes, beneficial fat, and amino acids.
The breastmilk should be no warmer than 104 degrees Fahrenheit and this temperature, and that is why warming the breast milk in a microwave can be harmful. Microwaves create uneven temperature variances when heating liquid, therefore some spots can be extremely hotter than others.
One of the ways to microwave breastmilk in a baby bottle is by placing it in warm water. Nuke a microwave safe container half full of water until the water is hot.
Remove the container from the microwave and insert the breast milk baby bottle into the hot water bath to warm the milk gradually. Swirl the bottle every minute to warm the breast milk evenly, and it should be ready to serve after just a few minutes.
There you have it, you can not microwave a baby bottle full of breast milk, however you can use a hot water bath to accomplish the task at hand. Serve you baby warmed minute in just a few minutes with the help of a hot water bath heated up in the microwave.