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.
As long as you pay attention to the way you use cold milk, it can be perfectly safe for your baby.
Even though it’s a popular opinion that warm milk has more nutrients, there’s always a way to keep those nutrients and still feed your baby cold milk, provided you follow our easy instructions.
If you have a baby that won’t take cold breast milk, cold formula or cow’s milk (and that’s very often the case since most babies prefer their milk to be closer to body temperature), you can still try to teach them to love it.
Try to decrease the temperature of the milk each time you give it to them until they are used to having colder milk.
All parents try to make the best choices for their babies.
I’m certain you’ll figure out what’s best for yours, and if you’re still not certain, it’s always wise to contact your pediatrician.
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