Expressed breast milk: Frozen breast milk tastes bad to baby

I have been nursing my four-month-old daughter and plan to continue when I return to work in two weeks. However, I don't think that I will be able to pump enough every day for the next day, so I'll need to keep a reserve in the freezer. Though she will take refrigerated or fresh expressed breastmilk from a bottle, she does not like milk that has been frozen and thawed, even though I thaw it in warm water and shake it to get an even consistency. What can I do?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Since your baby seems unhappy with frozen breastmilk, I would recommend using fresh, saving your frozen milk for an "emergency." The newest recommendations state that breastmilk can be kept refrigerated, between 32 and 39 degrees F for up to eight days (Pardou, 1994), so it should not be too difficult to feed your baby primarily fresh, refrigerated breastmilk.

Sometimes breastmilk does change in smell and taste after being frozen, seeming to smell sour, soapy or rancid. If care has been taken to properly collect and store your milk, it does not mean your milk is spoiled. The rancid taste and smell can be due to the breakdown of fats. The soapy smell may be the result of the freeze-defrost cycle in self-defrosting freezers. Scalding freshly expressed milk, without bringing it to a boil, then cooling it rapidly and freezing, stops the process of fat digestion. Though scalding the milk will not improve the smell or taste, it may be more readily accepted by your baby.

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