Can You Microwave Breastmilk? Is It Safe?

warm breastmilk in the microwave

NO, you should not.

We get it – busy moms and dads are constantly trying to find new ways to handle their workload, especially with a new baby in the home who needs constant care. You should not try one trick: microwaving breastmilk to get it to the right temperature for a baby. Sorry, moms, the microwave is not your friend when it comes to breast milk.

However, there is still a way you can use the microwave to speed the process indirectly. Read on for details…

Reasons to Avoid Microwaving Breastmilk

Why? First, microwaves do not heat evenly and create hots spots. In breastmilk, this can affect your baby and potentially burn their mouth and throat. However, the bad news doesn’t stop there. When you microwave breastmilk too long, even for a few seconds, you can inadvertently break down the health benefits of the milk. This can reduce the nutrients your baby needs to thrive.

The degradation of breastmilk starts at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Take into consideration that all microwaves heat at different levels and how inconsistent it can be to get under 104 degrees and can change the molecular level of the milk by inducing heat in the water molecules. Breastmilk stores all the fat, nutrients, vitamins, prebiotics, antibodies, and more than a baby needs, and a microwave can degrade all of these in just seconds leaving your baby malnourished and possibly in pain.

If you are still determined to use the microwave to your advantage for heating breastmilk, it’s time to start a different process. Keep in mind breastmilk right from the source usually maintains a temperature of 99 degrees, which should be the goal for reheating the breastmilk. Here are the steps to use the microwave to reheat breastmilk.

Steps for a Milk Bath in the Microwave

  1. Fill a microwave-safe cup halfway with water and microwave for two minutes. Glass or ceramic cups work best for these purposes.
  2. Once the water is hot, place a baby bottle with breastmilk into the cup to serve as a hot water bath. Move the bottle around to break up the temperature and remove hot spots.
  3. Squirt a drop of the milk onto your wrist after shaking the bottle to gauge the temperature. Alternately, you can use a kitchen thermometer, but check the top, middle, and bottom of the bottle.
  4. Avoid shaking the bottle too much as it can add air to the milk and potentially cause gas and bloating for your baby.
  5. Now, you can swirl the bottle gently, check the temperature on your wrist again, and then feed the warmed breastmilk to your baby.
  6. If the breast milk is frozen, you may need to repeat steps 1-4 a couple of times to get the milk to the correct temperature. It’s best to use thawed breastmilk with this method work best.

While not recommended, you can heat breast milk in ten-second increments until it reaches the correct temperature. But because microwaves can change the molecular level of milk, it’s best to use the water method listed above. Breastmilk is the only food your baby eats for the first year of their life, and it should be of the highest quality possible.

Additionally, you can actually use the above method but with tap water to heat breastmilk. Even your hottest tap water is generally too hot for warming breast milk, which may surprise you. If you’re going to heat breast milk with tap water, use warm water rather than the hottest. The hottest tap water setting can range between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which can scald a baby’s mouth with the first sip. Even water from the tap when too hot can reduce the nutrients in breastmilk, although not on a molecular level that is unstable.

Final Thoughts

Finally, while you cannot microwave breastmilk, you can microwave the water and use that as a bath to heat the breastmilk. Always test the milk before serving it to your baby. A kitchen thermometer can help you to determine the temperature too. Follow the steps above, and you can nourish your baby and use the microwave to heat the water but not the milk.