We all know about the nutritional and immune-boosting properties of breast milk. If you are wondering what to do with leftover breast milk instead of dumping, then read on to discover 19 surprising practical uses of breast milk.
Human breast milk is perhaps the most important functional food known. With its dynamic properties, breast milk has been used as a therapeutic remedy for many years.
Breast milk contains hundreds of distinct bioactive factors including cells, anti-infectious and anti-inflammatory agents, growth factors, cytokines, and a heterogeneous population of cells—including stem cells, probiotic bacteria that protect babies against infection and inflammation and contribute to immune maturation, organ development.
As laboratory methods become more refined more bioactive components are discovered in breast milk and being tested for its potential medical application as prophylactic or therapeutic agents.
If you are reading this post then you are one of those fortunate mamas, who have had a privilege to feed “liquid gold” to their babies and now wondering what to do with leftover breast milk that you are hesitant to dump.
All the hard work – blood and sweat – that it takes to pump, and store breast milk makes us look for an alternative way to use leftover breast milk rather than just simply dumping it.
Reason why I had unused frozen leftover breast milk was because I weaned my baby off the breast milk. There could be other reasons why you might have leftover breast milk such as;
- You thawed too much milk accidentally and now wondering what to do with extra breast milk?
- Your baby did not finish her bottle and now you are wondering can I reheat breast milk twice to feed my baby again?
- Your baby refuses to drink breast milk after it is defrosted and now you are wondering once breastmilk is heated can it be refrigerated?
- Breast milk is expired
All those questions are valid because you don’t want to feed your baby sub-optimal quality of breast milk. I followed CDC guideline for proper storage and handling of expressed breast milk. Common sense is before using leftover breast milk for feeding purpose – smell it or try it.
I had few liters of frozen leftover breast milk that I had no idea what to do with after my baby was weaned off. It was sitting in freezer for almost 6 to 8 months post expression. That lead me to google to look for alternative way to use leftover and possibly expired breast milk.
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What to do with expired breast milk?
Breast milk stays fresh longer than pasteurized milk depending upon the various factors such as milk volume, temperature of the room when milk is expressed, storage condition, temperature fluctuation in refrigerator or freezer. According to CDC, freshly expressed breast could be used up to 12 months depending upon the storage condition.
CDC also recommend discarding leftover breast milk from the bottle that your baby did not finish because of the risk of contamination by baby’s saliva during a feeding.
But before you discard your leftover breast milk, check out this unusual, alternative way to use your leftover or expired breast milk given that it is not spoiled.
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Make a Bath for your Baby
Breast milk is a great skin softener and may improve your baby’s skin. Stir breast milk into bathtub until it is cloudy and let your baby sit in milk bath or relax in your own milk bath. To make it more relaxing for your use, add essential oils.
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Make a Soap
If you are hesitant to put breast milk in your own bath than make homemade soaps using breast milk. There are lot of great recipes on internet on how to make soap using breast milk. If you want hassle free way to make your breast milk soap, then Amazon has some great soap making kits. Check out this soap making kit or DIY soap kit. All you have to is add room temperature breast milk in soap base and stir.
If you want to use breast milk soap for your bubs, use goat milk soap base.
Make a Breast milk Lotion
There are tons of lotions in the market that are made from goat’s milk. So, making lotion out of breast milk wouldn’t surprise you. Check out this video for making two types of breast milk lotion. This lotion will last 3 months when stored in refrigerator.
Turn into Jewelry
Apparently, you can wear your breast milk in form of jewelry. How cool it that to have breast milk as a keepsake!! There are many shops that will turn your breast milk into wearable jewelry in form of pendants, rings, lockets or beads. All you need to do is ship them couple of ml of breast milk. Be aware of shipping regulation as it is biological fluid.
Even better, Why not do it yourself! MamaMilkFairy offers an amazing DIY Breastmilk Jewelry Kit with very easy to follow instruction on how to turn your breastmilk into oval ring that you can wear it rest of your life.
What to do with leftover thawed breast milk?
Amazing properties of breast milk makes it a natural healer for many health ailments both for babies and adults. They are usually cultural practices and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. However, keep in mind that there is not necessarily any medical proof that its works, but it has been used successfully for so many common health ailments.
Caution: You should be cautious putting breast milk onto an opening in the skin, it could cause complications, illness and infection (2).
Use it for Minor cuts and Bruises
Breast milk can be used to treat minor cuts and bruises amid its natural antiseptic properties. The antibody IgA protects wound from germ invasion and helps speed up healing (3). Apply breast milk with cotton pad and let it dry.
For added benefit, you can also freeze leftover breast milk in cubes to treat minor cuts and bruises. Cold temperature will help reduce inflammation and swelling along with antiseptic properties of breast milk.
Use it for treatment of Ear Infection
Ear infection is very common during early years of life. Because of the increase in antibiotic-resistance bacteria, many doctors are using wait and see approach. Although there is no scientific evidence, certain moms have reported that applying few drops of breast milk into baby’s ear every few hours can help reduce the pain caused by ear infections.
But always talk to your pediatrician first.
Eczema is very common condition during infancy. In fact, up to 50% of all infants develops eczema in the first few months. Breast milk has been used for the treatment of eczema because of its topical anti-inflammatory property. One randomized controlled trial published in the Int. J. Dermatol in 2015, stated that breast milk was as effective in treatment of eczema compared to 1% hydrocortisone in 104 Iranian infants (4).
Breast milk is also great for treating diaper rash. Use breast milk to sooth your baby’s red and irritated bum. One research study compared the effectiveness of breast milk and hydrocortisone in treatment of diaper rash and concluded that breast milk is as effective as hydrocortisone (5).
However, be cautious about persistence rash. If diaper rash is not going away, than you might have yeast rash. Applying breast milk on yeast rash is not going to help clear it up as yeast thrives on sugar from the breast milk.
Treatment of Conjunctivitis
Use of breast milk for the treatment of infectious conjunctivitis has been reported in ancient Egyptian and Roman cultures. Research study conducted by Ghaemi et al. have shown the beneficial preventive effects of colostrum against neonatal conjunctivitis on 89 breastfeeding neonates (6).
Treating Sore nipples
Breastfeeding in the first few days can leave you with sore, cracked nipples. Best remedy that lactation consultant refers to most moms is breast milk. Express few drops of breast milk and message on nipple after feeding to ease the pain and accelerate healing process.
However, if sore nipples are due to thrush or yeast, do not apply breast milk as yeast thrives on breast milk.
For soothing relief, apply breast milk to affected area. It will instantly give you cooling effect.
Breast milk is also very effective in getting rid of cradle cap. Apply breast milk in scalp using cotton ball or make a cloudy breast milk solution and spray it over baby’s head.
If you succeed in convincing your teenager to use some of your leftover breast milk for the treatment of acne, then you have found another use of your biofluid. All they have to do it clean their face with breast milk twice a day or apply it as a face mask and let it dry.
Yogurt is good source of probiotics for your baby and also tastes great. Even better is yogurt made from nutrition dense breast milk!! Sterilize breast milk by boiling it on stove top until bubbles form. Let is cool down a bit and add 1-2 tablespoon on live yogurt culture. Mix and store it in warm place for 6-8 hours.
What to do with Frozen leftover breast milk?
Use it with Solid food
When my baby was transitioned into solid food at 6 months, I mixed frozen breast milk to make food for the baby. It was easy my baby to transition to solids as he was familiar with texture and taste of breast milk.
Consider Donating it
Although, most breast milk banks have very strict criteria for accepting breast milk to ensure its safety for human consumption, it is worth finding out if your breast milk is acceptable for donation.
Another option you have is donating your breast milk to a mother in need privately through community-based milk sharing organizations. Facebook is a place to look for resources for private donations. You will need to ensure that your milk is safe to donate.
What to do with leftover fresh breast milk?
If you truly have an oversupply, donating fresh leftover breast milk is great option. The breast milk accepted by milk banks are pasteurized and given to sick infants whose mothers can’t produce breast milk.
Contact the nearest breast milk bank to see if your milk is acceptable for donation.
Make momsicles by freezing your breast milk into Popsicle molds. They can last for six months in freezer. t is a great remedy that will come in handy to help your baby’s teething gum. If your teething baby is biting at the beginning of a breastfeeding session, try giving momsicle to chew on before nursing.
Or turn them into frozen treat for your babies by adding fruits of your choice for hot days.
Make a Chapstic
Wash, clean and sterilize your empty chapstic container, fill it with fresh breast milk and freeze it. Take it out of freezer when your kids have cracked lips. It will last you six months in freezer.
Here you go mamas!! What did you do with your leftover breast milk? Do you have any creative idea to use leftover breast milk? Leave your comment below.
1. Kramer M.S. “Breast is best”: The evidence. Early Hum. Dev. 2010;86:729–732. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2010.08.005.
2. Karcz K, Walkowiak M, Makuch J, Olejnik I, Królak-Olejnik B. Non-Nutritional Use of Human Milk Part 1: A Survey of the Use of Breast Milk as a Therapy for Mucosal Infections of Various Types in Poland. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(10):1715. Published 2019 May 16. doi:10.3390/ijerph16101715
3. Hanson LA, Söderström T. Human milk: Defense against infection. Prog Clin Biol Res. 1981;61:147-59. Review. PubMed PMID: 6798576.
4. Kasrae H., AmiriFarahani L., Yousefi P. Efficacy of topical application of human breast milk on atopic eczema healing among infants: A randomized clinical trial. Int. J. Dermatol. 2015;54:966–971. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12764
5. Farahani L.A., Ghobadzadeh M., Yousefi P. Comparison of the effect of human milk and topical hydrocortisone 1% on diaper dermatitis. Pediatr. Dermatol. 2013;30:725–729. doi: 10.1111/pde.12118.
6. Ghaemi S., Navaei P., Rahimirad S., Behjati M., Kelishadi R. Evaluation of preventive effects of colostrum against neonatal conjunctivitis: A randomized clinical trial. J. Educ. Health Promot. 2014;3:63. doi: 10.4103/2277-9531.134776.
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