How does breast milk taste?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how does breast milk taste” with an in-depth analysis of the taste profile and nutritional profile of breast milk. Moreover, we are going to discuss the proper way to store breast milk to preserve its freshness for a long time.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How does breast milk taste?

Generally, breast milk is defined by a sweet taste that sometimes has nutty undernotes and is creamy in texture. But it is worth mentioning that the taste of breast milk varies from mother to mother and the diet of the mother has a great impact on the taste of breastmilk. 

Factors affecting the taste and quality of breast milk

Mother’s diet

Depending on your meals, milk can take on a variety of subtle flavor variations. As they begin to consume solids, breastfed babies are more likely to like a wider variety of foods and flavors than formula-fed babies. Certain drugs can also change the smell and taste of breast milk.

Storage conditions

The smell, taste, and appearance of milk can all be affected by how it is stored. You may have observed that your milk begins to separate into layers when stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. This does not indicate that food has gone bad; rather, the cream is rising to the top. It’s as simple as gently swirling the container to mix the milk, and it’s ready to feed.

Freezing and thawing practices

The flavor and smell of breast milk can be greatly affected by freezing and thawing. Breast milk contains lipase, an enzyme found in human milk that offers a number of health benefits. For starters, it aids in the breakdown of fats in milk, allowing fat-soluble nutrients and fatty acids (which protect your baby from illness) to reach your infant.

The more time milk is kept at room temperature or even in the refrigerator before being frozen, the higher the lipase activity. A high quantity of lipase in milk might cause a soapy odor and taste, although it is not dangerous to the baby.

What is the nutritional value of breast milk?

Breast milk has a different nutritional profile, flavor, and color than regular milk. It is highly nutritious and contains all the macro and micronutrients that are needed for the proper growth and development of a baby. 

No doubt that the diet of the mother greatly impacts the quality of breast milk but mostly breast milk has everything that a growing child needs.

Breast milk has two types of protein. 60-80% of it is whey protein while the rest is casein protein. Moreover, breast milk also contains all the essential fatty acids that are required for the proper nourishment of the baby. Now when it comes to the vitamins part of the milk, that is where the diet of the mother has the greatest impact. Therefore a mother should consume a healthy, nutritious, and wholesome diet so that the baby can get essential vitamins via breast milk.

So lactose is the main carbohydrate and accounts for 40% of the carbohydrates present in breast milk.  Thus breast milk is important for the proper development and well-being of the child.

Besides the basic macro and micronutrients, breast milk is also enriched with a lot of beneficial components, such as antibodies and white blood cells, probiotics, hormones, growth factors, antibacterial components, cytokines, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and special carbohydrates (oligosaccharides), that are required for the proper development of babies as well the maintenance of different functions of the body.

How long does breast milk last?

Breast milk lasts for 3-5 days in the fridge if stored in an air-tight bottle or air-tight container at or below 40°F. 

Freshly pumped breast milk as well as previously refrigerated breast milk lasts for about 4 hours when kept at room temperature but you should use it within 2 hours for safety concerns. 

You should discard the breast milk that has been left in open for more than 2 hours as bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore there are greater chances of the breast milk being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2 hours.

Moreover, if the temperature of the surroundings is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the process of spoilage takes place at a faster pace and it is recommended to discard breast milk that is left out in the open for more than an hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can read the benefits of breast milk here.

Tips to properly store breast milk

  1. You should always store the expressed breast milk at 40°F or below. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40°F and 140°F, therefore it is always advised to store breast milk at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness and quality for a long time.
  1. Breast milk can pick up odors therefore it should be stored in an air-tight container or bottle in the fridge. Moreover, it should be stored away from strong-smelling food items like garlic, onion, etc. 
  1. It is better to store the breast milk on one of the shelves of the refrigerator rather than the door as there is a lot of temperature fluctuation at the door of the fridge and that can harm the quality of expressed breast milk.
  1. It is best practice to store the breast milk on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator as it is the coldest part of the refrigerator and has its temperature between 38 °F to 40 °F.
  1. You should never thaw or heat the breast milk in the microwave or directly in the pan. It contains live cells (stem cells) and antibodies and such practices can damage them. It is recommended to thaw the breast milk in the refrigerator overnight or under running water.
  1. You should never refreeze a thawed breast milk.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how does breast milk taste” with an in-depth analysis of the taste profile and nutritional profile of breast milk. Moreover, we discussed the proper way to store breast milk to preserve its freshness for a long time.

Citations

https://www.healthline.com/health/what-does-breast-milk-taste-like#:~:text=Breast%20milk%20tastes%20like%20milk,cucumbers
https://www.verywellfamily.com/how-does-breast-milk-taste-431548
https://www.medela.us/breastfeeding/articles/what-affects-breast-milk-taste-and-smell

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.