There are multiple ways to thaw out frozen breast milk to get it into a liquid state. Each of the following can be done in a safe manner. Read each method carefully to find out how to do it correctly and which one will work best in certain situations.
In the Refrigerator
One of the easiest ways to defrost breast milk is by putting the bag or bottle of frozen breast milk into the fridge. However, It takes about 12 hours for frozen breast milk to thaw in the fridge (it depends on how much you have). Just be sure to use the breast milk within 24 hours once it’s been thawed in the refrigerator (24 hours after no ice crystals are present.)
In a Bowl of Cold Water
Though this method isn’t one you’d likely choose typically, it is one way to go if you need to milk faster than in 12 hours and know you won’t be able to use all of the milk you’re thawing. As long as the milk stays cold, you can refrigerate the unused portion that doesn’t go into your baby’s bottle.
In a Bowl of Warm Water
This method is two-fold in that it will thaw frozen breast milk and warm it at the same time (if left in a bit longer). The trick is to replace the water that has gotten cold with more warm water. This will allow the breast milk to warm up more quickly. This method can be used with both breast milk storage bags and bottles, but the warming process will happen more quickly with bags.
Under Warm Running Water
The fastest way to thaw your baby’s breast milk is under warm running water. This works particularly well if the breast milk is in a bag. As the milk starts to defrost, you can massage the bag to break up ice chunks in order to get it thawed more quickly.
With a Bottle Warmer
Though there are some bottle warmers that have the capability to warm breast milk from frozen, you want to take care that the warming method utilizes a slow-heat method that will safely warm breast milk without destroying any of its helpful properties.
Practices to avoid
As a busy parent, it can be tempting to take the “easy way” or “faster way” when thawing your baby’s breast milk, but these aren’t always safe methods.
Don't thaw at room temperature
As a living fluid, breast milk should never be thawed at room temperature. In order to keep the healthy composition of the breast milk intact, including its antibodies and vital nutrients, as well as keep it from growing unhealthy bacteria, breast milk should never be left out on a counter, etc. to thaw.
Don't use the microwing the breast milk
Why it’s a No Go? There isn’t ever a time that it’s safe to put breast milk in the microwave. Not only does this method create hot spots in the milk, putting your baby at risk for burns, but it also destroys the nutrients in the breast milk. There is no reason you need to use the microwave for thawing or warming.