Help! Baby Drank Spoiled Breast Milk: Here is what you need to do

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Breastmilk is all your baby need in the first 6 months of their lives. So, it is obvious to have a little panic attack if your baby drank spoiled breast milk accidentally. Here is what you need to do if your baby drank breast milk that sat out or spoiled or expired breastmilk.

Life would be much easier if every mom could breastfeed their baby. But it is not always possible, considering some mamas have flat nipples or lipstick nipples, or sometimes it is hard for babies to learn how to latch on. 

Sometimes, mama cannot breastfeed and opt for exclusively pumping and building a milk stash to feed their baby. 

So, whatever is your reason for pumping breastmilk, all moms need to know how to properly store breastmilk to preserve its quality. 

Baby crying and hand holding bottle in a frame with text baby drank spoiled breast milk

Breastmilk has to be used within a certain time period and stored properly in order to preserve its quality. Many factors contribute to breastmilk going bad. If you catch the spoiled breastmilk before giving it to your baby, you can just discard it or use it alternatively. 

But what happens if you or your caregiver gives baby breastmilk that has gone bad? 

You will have a minor panic attack first, and then you will start wondering what happens if the baby drinks spoiled breastmilk. Can spoiled breast milk make a baby sick?

The extent at which spoiled breast milk affect your baby depends on how much they spoiled milk they have consumed. If they drank 2-3 sips of spoiled breast milk, it is less likely to affect them. But if they have drank whole bottle of breast milk, they might vomit it out. Once they vomit it out, they will be okay. But you need to moniter them for any other symptoms they might develop after drinking spoiled breast milk. If they vomit frequently, or have diarrhea, you need to talk to your pediatrician.

Read on to know what happens if baby drank spoiled breast milk and what you can do to prevent it from happenig again.

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Can Breast milk go bad or Spoil?

If you wonder whether breastmilk can spoil inside your breast, then the answer is NO. Breastmilk cannot spoil or go bad inside your breast because the property of breastmilk is constantly changing according to your baby’s need, meaning that, unlike cow’s milk, breastmilk is a living component of your body.  

But once you express the breast milk, it can spoil or go bad. If breast milk is sitting outside for a long time or sitting in a refrigerator for a long time, it will spoil. According to CDC, freshly expressed breast milk should only be stored at room temperature for up to 4 hours and refrigerated for up to 4 days. 

In a perfect world, you want to exclusively breastfeed the baby for at least the first 6 months of their life. But is it always not possible considering how hard breastfeeding is when you are first establishing it.

Even when you are exclusively breastfeeding, you may need to pump the breast milk to take a break from breastfeeding, heal your cracked nipple, or just need a good night’s sleep or go a night out with girlfriends. 

So, once you express the breast milk, it needs to be handled and stored properly and used within the timeline set by CDC to prevent it from going bad.

What Happens if your baby drank Spoiled breast milk that sat out too long?

expressed breast milk in a bottle and breast pump part on a countertop

If you accidentally gave your baby spoiled breast milk, you will see them rejecting that milk, or they will dribble breastmilk out from the corner of their mouth. In addition, you may see them squirming and pushing nipples out of their mouth. 

While these expressions are not always an indication of a baby given spoiled breast milk, these are a natural response of humans when they are given something that tastes awful. Spoiled breast milk has a sour taste. 

So, if your baby is expressing their concern while drinking milk from a bottle, check the quality of breast milk or formula before investigating other reasons why your baby is not drinking from the bottle. 

So, can spoiled milk make a baby sick? 

Yes, a baby can get sick. 

If your baby drank spoiled breast milk, most likely, they would vomit it out. Once they puke it out, they will be okay. But if they continue vomiting, you may need to check with your pediatrician.  

Once babies vomit spoiled milk out of their stomachs, you do not need to worry anymore. And continue monitoring them for any other symptoms like continued vomiting or diarrhea and possible dehydration. So, if you see them vomiting continuously, talk to your pediatrician. 

But most babies will be fine if they have drunk spoiled breast milk, but you need to avoid giving your baby spoiled milk. Usually, breast milk does not go bad if you have followed proper handling and storage guidelines. 

But if you need to know the characteristics of spoiled breast milk, read on. 

Symptoms of Baby who has drunk Spoiled breast milk?

If your baby drank spoiled breast milk, you might start seeing a significant increase in crying and restlessness.

They may vomit out the spoiled breast in the first half an hour to an hour. Once they vomit out the spoiled breast milk, they probably will be okay as spoiled breast milk is out of their body. 

You may also see frequent vomiting followed by diarrhea. And if you see your baby puking frequently, you need to visit your pediatrician as it may lead to dehydration. 

Most babies are fine if they have accidentally drunk spoiled breast milk. Minor vomiting is expected. 

But it is best to avoid giving the baby spoiled breast milk. And to prevent such an accident, it is important to follow breast milk storage guidelines properly. 

How to know if Breast milk has gone bad or spoiled?           

frozen breast milk in a storage bag

It can get quite confusing to tell if breast milk has gone bad because breast milk’s color and consistency change depending upon when it is collected. 

Breast milk’s color can vary from yellow, orange, or off-white to even bluish depending upon which stage it is collected and the mother’s diet. 

When a baby is born, the mom makes colostrum – which has a yellowish tint. Then after 3-4 days, mom makes transitional milk. Transitional milk has an orangish tint to it. 

And after about 14 days, mom makes mature milk, which has off white color and is a little watery. 

The difference in breast milk color is due to the ratio of hindmilk and foremilk. Hindmilk is rich and fatty, which keeps the baby’s stomach full until the next breastfeeding session. While the breast milk that you express when the baby is first latched on is called foremilk. You may have noticed it being thinner and watery when you expressed it. 

You also see a change in breast milk consistency depending upon the time of day it is collected. For example, the first-morning breastmilk is fatty and richer and evening breastmilk is thinner and watery. 

Other contributing factors for breast milk color variation include the mother’s diet, medication, water intake, and post-natal vitamins she is taking while breastfeeding. 

So, variation in color and consistency does not necessarily mean that breast milk has gone bad or spoiled. 

So, now let’s look at…

3 Signs your Breast milk has gone bad or Spoiled

Foul Smell

Breast milk sitting outside for a long time can smell foul, and a foul smell is a solid indicator of spoiled breast milk. 

The spoiled breast milk smells like rotten cow’s milk. The smell is significant that you will instantly know that breast milk has gone bad.

But when breast milk has an ‘off smell’ – soapy or metallic smell – then it may not be spoiled. For example, frozen breast milk has an ‘off smell’ due to breast milk breaking down and releasing an enzyme named lipase. 

If your breast milk has lipase in it, you notice a difference in the smell and taste of breast milk after 12-15 hours after pumping and storing breast milk or when you are thawing it. The lipase activity can make breast milk smell soapy or metallic or even fishy or sour upon thawing, even when it is perfectly safe for the baby to drink. 

This off smell does not necessarily mean that breast milk has gone bad. It may be tricky for you to differentiate between spoiled vs. not spoiled breast milk when you have higher lipase activity in your breast milk. 

Although higher lipase activity in breast milk may cause your baby to reject the breast milk. In that case, talk to a lactation consultant, and they will help you come up with a plan to encourage your baby to drink breast milk with high lipase

Bad taste

Another confirmative taste to know whether your breast milk has gone bad or spoiled is to taste it. 

When you smell the breast milk and find that it has an off smell but not like rotten cow’s milk, you can taste it. If it tastes like rancid or sour, you can throw it out. 

Also, remember, thawed breast milk has a little sour taste. So, decide whether it is gone bad or not based on the smell test and taste test. Sometimes it gets confusing to decide whether breast milk is spoiled or not. Remember one thing – ‘when in doubt, throw it out. 

I know how precious breast milk is and how hard you have worked to express your breast milk, so instead of dumping it, use it topically. Here are 19 great uses of leftover or expired breast milk

It is not mixing 

If you hve noticed, refrigerated milk looks chunky and clumpy and it can be easily mistaken as spoiled milk or curdled milk. This is becasue breast milk separates when stored after pumping. It separates into two parts. The fatty layer stays on the top, and watery parts settle at the bottom.

If your breast milk is not spoiled upon storage, it will mix properly when you swirl it around. 

But if you see a chunk of breast milk while swirling – which won’t mix- breast milk has spoiled. 

How to store breast milk properly?

Following recommended breast milk preparation and storage guidelines will maintain the quality of expressed breastmilk for your baby’s well-being. 

Many factors affect the quality of stored breast milk, from milk volume, storage container, room temperature, and freezing temperature to temperature fluctuation when stored or frozen. 

Also, hygiene practice while expressing and storing breast milk is also important. 

As long as you maintain proper hygiene practices and follow storage guidelines set by CDC, there are fewer chances of your breast milk going bad.

Now that you know how long your breast milk is good for at different storage temperatures let’s look at how to store them properly. 

Maintain proper hygiene practice

It is very important to wash your hand when expressing your breast milk. You touch thousands of things throughout the day, and your hands likely carry germs that you don’t want to pass on to your baby via breast milk. 

So, wash your hand before touching breast pump parts or a bottle for expressing your breast milk. 

Wash and sterilize often

Washing all breast pump parts and storage container is very important. After each pumping session, wash your breast pump parts with hot soapy water and store them in a place where no one else touches them. 

You also need to sterilize breast pump parts at least once a week along with bottles and nipples to keep them germ-free. 

Related: 7 Simple Tips on Getting Breast Milk Fat Off the Sides of the Bottle or Bag

Storage container

You need to store breast milk in a storage bag or container specifically designed for breast milk storage. 

Whether you are using a plastic breast milk storage bag or storage container, they are made from safe plastic and designed to withstand the storage condition. 

If you do not want to use a plastic bag or container for freezing breast milk, you can store them in a mason 4-ounce glass jar for short term and silicone breast milk storage bags for long term storage. 

Label them

When you transfer your expressed breast milk into a long-term storage bag, label them with a date. Then, arrange them in your freezer in a way that fresher breast milk goes in the back as you add to your milk stash. Also, make sure that you have sealed the storage bag properly to avoid leakage or air trapping. 

Freeze it properly

When filling up the storage bag for freezing, make sure not to add more volume than what is suggested on the bag. Because volume will expand upon storage, the last thing you want is your precious frozen breast milk ripping the storage bag in the freezer. Contamination alert!

You also want to freeze them in the main part of your freezer rather than a door. This is because the temperature fluctuates when you open and close the freezer door. 

Also, make sure that you are freezing expressed breast milk as soon as possible after pumping. 

If you are a working mom and pumping at work, you need to cool the pumped breast milk as soon as possible after pumping and once you are home, freeze them immediately. 

Thaw them properly

If you are thawing your breast milk, it is best to let it through overnight for feeding your baby in the morning. 

But if you have forgotten to defrost your breast milk overnight, place the frozen milk bag in warm water or run them under warm tap water to defrost them quickly. 

And once the breast milk is defrosted, use them within 24 hours and do not refreeze it. 

Put the storage guideline on your fridge.

If more than one person is caring for a baby or is responsible for feeding a baby, make sure you print and stick breast milk storage guidelines on the fridge. That way, everybody can see the storage guideline and avoid feeding breast milk to the baby if it is sitting outside for a long time or in a refrigerator for a long time.  

FAQs

What happens if the baby drinks 5-hour-old breast milk?

According to CDC, you can store breast milk for up to 4 hours at room temperature. So, if your baby has drunk breast milk that sat out for 5-6 hours, it should be okay. Breast milk does not spoil for up to 6-8 hours if sat at room temperature. 

Your baby should be okay If they drank 5-hour-old breast milk. But if you are worried, keep an eye on her symptoms. If she vomits, which is less likely, she will be okay.

What happens if you leave breast milk out overnight?

 An accident happens when you are sleep-deprived! If you have accidentally left breast milk out overnight, it is better not to feed that to your baby. 

Even when it does not smell bad or taste bad, it is still not a good idea to feed that breast milk to your baby. You can always use that breast milk in the baby’s bath and give them a milk bath or use them topically. You can also make breast milk ChapStick or breast milk soap out of expired breast milk. For finding out other cool usages of expired breast milk, check this article on what to do with expired or leftover breast milk other than dumping it. 

Related: 6 Best Usage of Expired Baby Formula

How Much Milk Should I Store in a Freezer?

When building a milk stash, it is a good idea to freeze breast milk in a smaller quantity to avoid wasting the thawed breast milk. According to the CDC breast milk storage guideline, thawed milk should be only used for up to 24 hours. 

So, you do not want to freeze a large quantity that your baby can not finish within 24 hours.

It is best to freeze breast milk in 2–4-ounce quantities in a storage bag. So, you can take out one at a time or double the quantity depending upon your baby’s requirement. 

Why does my frozen breast milk look orange?

A mother’s diet contributes to the change in breast milk color. For example, eating lots of vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash rich in beta-carotene may turn your breast milk into a slightly yellowish or orange tint. 

The orangish, yellowish color of breast milk can also be due to the fat content of breast milk which fluctuates depending upon when you express your breast milk. For example, if you pump breast milk in the morning, it will have higher fat content, and upon freezing, it will look yellowish or orangish because of fat separation upon storage. 

Why is my breast milk Green?

Breast milk can also be seen in a shade of green. For example, your breast milk may look greenish if you consume lots of green vegetables like spinach, herbs, seaweed, or lactation-building sports beverages

Breast milk with a green tint or visibly green is not a sign of spoiled breast milk. It merely means that the mother is consuming green leafy vegetables. 

Can breast milk spoil inside of your boob?

No, breast milk can not spoil your boobs. The main reason is breast milk is live, and it is being produced every day on the demand and supply cycle. 

Breast milk is constantly produced, and its composition constantly changes depending upon the need of an infant and the mother’s microbial flora. 

Breast milk is not like cow’s milk that we pour out of the container; it is safely produced and stored in a breast. 

Even when you are engorged breast, milk bleb, plunged duct, mastitis, or haven’t fed your baby in 24 hours; your breast milk is still good to feed your baby.   

So, as long as breast milk is inside your boob, you do not need to worry about it going bad. However, as soon as it is expressed, you need to follow breast milk storage guidelines and use breast milk within a defined timeline. 

Baby Drank Spoiled Breast Milk: Conclusion

You want the best for your baby, and if they have accidentally drunk spoiled breast milk, do not feel guilty about it. Because motherhood is hard, and accidents happen. 

If your baby drank a few sips of spoiled breast milk, nothing would happen to them. However, if they have finished the bottle of spoiled breast milk, they might vomit it out in the first couple of hours. Once the vomit is out, they will be okay. 

But it is essential to keep an eye on your baby’s behavior. If they start vomiting frequently or have diarrhea, you need to consult a pediatrician. 

You also need to follow the breast milk storage guideline developed by CDC. Make sure to print and stick the guideline on your fridge door in more than one person is involved in caring for a baby. 

When someone else is caring for a baby while you are away, make sure that the caregiver strictly follows breast milk storage guidelines and knows the normal appearance of breast milk vs. spoiled breast milk to avoid feeding baby spoiled breast milk. 

Do you have any breast milk storage tips or tips for testing spoiled breast milk? Leave your comment below. 

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breast milk bottle and pump part sitting on a counter top with text saying baby drank spoiled breast milk

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