There are a few methods you can use to thaw frozen breastmilk. Do not thaw in the microwave oven or over stovetop. Do not thaw at room temperature. Here are three safe methods for thawing that we recommend:
1. Thaw breastmilk overnight in the refrigerator
If you know in advanced when you’ll be using frozen breastmilk, you can put it in the refrigerator 24 hours ahead of time and thaw it overnight. Set the bags you wish to thaw in a clean food-safe container just in case there are any leaks. 24 hours should be sufficient to completely thaw your breastmilk; however, if you find it’s still frozen in the morning you can use one of the following methods to speed up the thawing process.
2. Thaw breastmilk in a bowl of warm water
You can thaw breastmilk from the freezer using a bowl of warm water. Place the frozen breastmilk container into the bowl, and then fill with warm water. Your frozen container will float at the top of the water so you should plan to rotate it every so often. You will also need to periodically refresh the water. The water will cool down less quickly as the milk thaws more.
3. Thaw breastmilk under warm running water
Rather than refreshing warm water in a bowl, you can thaw breastmilk from the freezer by holding it under a continuous stream of warm tap water. Make sure the water you use is warm – not hot – to avoid scalding the breastmilk; or worse, melting the freezer bag!
You can use any combination of the methods mentioned to safely thaw breastmilk from the freezer. Just be careful not to overheat the breastmilk because that can damage the nutritional content and flavour.
Special tips when using freezer bags
If you’re using freezer bags to store your breastmilk there are some precautions you can take to make thawing easier. No matter what type of freezer bag you use you run the risk of tearing or holes during the freezing and thawing processes. There are things you can do to protect against this.
Freeze your breastmilk storage bags flat
Freezing your breastmilk storage bags flat will decrease the amount of corners and crinkles your frozen breastmilk storage bags have. Crinkles and corners make bags more prone to tearing and holes during storage and the thawing process. Plus, it’s a lot easier to stack and store them! You can freeze them flat on a cookie sheet or directly on your freezer shelf. Then, once frozen you can stack and store them how you wish.
Thaw your breastmilk storage bags in a food safe container
Just in case there has been any tearing of the bag you should thaw your breastmilk in a food safe container. You’ll keep any spilled milk contained in one spot avoiding a huge mess in the refrigerator – and, more importantly, your liquid gold won’t go to waste!