Teething can be a painful business for babies. It causes them discomfort and irritation and it can leave us parents feeling helpless. There are remedies out there – but what is safe?
Frozen breast milk can be given to babies older than 6 months of age as long as sanitation and safety requirements have been considered.
As we know, fresh breast milk is the best for your baby until they are ready for solid foods. It is full of nutrients and benefits for your baby’s proper growth and development, but does it also provide benefits for teething? What if it’s frozen?
When Can You Use Frozen Breast Milk for Teething?
From birth, breast milk is the first source of nutrients introduced to your baby. In fact, it is recommended that babies should only have breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months of their life, and should practice complementary breastfeeding until 2 years of age (Source: WHO).
However, is it safe to give it to your baby frozen as a teething remedy? Let’s discuss.
“Frozen breast milk is still breast milk”, technically, yes, but also we have to consider your baby’s capabilities. Babies younger than 6 months of age are generally not offered solid food as they are still developing and learning skills to maneuver food safely into their mouths.
They are not yet capable of feeding themselves and giving them solid food, in this case, frozen breast milk at this time can lead to some problems such as choking (Source: Pediatrics).
Therefore it might be best to wait until your baby is 6 months and older before you offer frozen breast milk. However, here are some other ways to ease the discomfort of your baby during teething:
- Gently massaging their gums with a clean finger,
- Giving them cold teething rings, as it is the cold that helps with the discomfort of teething,
- And interacting with your baby to stimulate them and get their mind off of the discomfort (Source: FDA).
Is Using Frozen Breast Milk for Teething Safe?
Giving your baby frozen breast milk to ease teething discomfort is safe as long as the freezing process has been done with sanitation and safety in mind. These considerations should always be first.
Breast milk should only be kept at room temperature no longer than 4 hours, should be kept in the fridge for no longer than 4 days, and can be kept in the freezer for 6 months for best quality (Source: CDC). If any of these time recommendations have been surpassed, stored breast milk should be discarded and should not be consumed.
Frozen breast milk is usually served similarly to a popsicle. Breast milk is poured into molds and frozen, then served to babies. Some recipes suggest adding some fruits and other extra flavors to the milk to increase palatability.
When doing so, make sure that the ingredient you are adding has been introduced to your baby before to rule out any allergies or negative reactions to the food.
In addition, when adding fresh fruit, make sure to blend all of the fruits with the milk until it reaches a uniform consistency. This is to decrease the risk of choking on bigger chunks of fruits.
Another concern when serving babies cold food such as popsicles is the risk of cold panniculitis. It is a condition often seen in infants and younger children due to the presence of more saturated fat near the skin, the fat can get inflamed due to exposure to cold temperature (the popsicle)
Some symptoms begin 24-48 hours after exposure, including redness and firmness of the skin on the site of exposure (usually near the chin and mouth) and pain. This condition does not have any treatment and rarely causes permanent damage, but can still cause discomfort to your baby.
Are Breastmilk Popsicles Safe?
Frozen breast milk is usually served as popsicles. These are molded using store-bought molds or other DIY items such as ice cube trays, loaf pan, and re-used small yogurt containers. A problem with these DIY popsicle molds is that popsicle sticks are usually used as handles which can be difficult for a baby to grasp and hold up.
It can also pose a danger as it is thin and can accidentally be pushed into their throats. In addition, the shape of these DIY molds is not specifically made with babies in mind, as it can be thin and can be easily broken into chunks which can then cause choking.
Store-bought molds that are more round (somewhat a semi-circle shape) and harder to bite off a chunk are generally safer for younger children. Just be sure to read the labels and look for silicone molds that are BPA-free, baby-safe, and non-toxic.
As discussed above, when making breast milk popsicles at home, be sure to observe sanitation and avoid cross-contamination when putting them inside the fridge. Store them away from cold cuts and raw meat. Do not refreeze defrosted breast milk as it can already be unsafe for consumption (Source: CDC).
In conclusion, I hope I have answered some of your questions regarding giving frozen breast milk to your baby. It is amazing to see your baby develop their body and skills. Exploring their new capabilities can be fun and exciting. Experimenting with new things while being safe should be something you and your baby should enjoy together.