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What does breast milk smell like And how to tell if it’s gone bad

What does breast milk smell like?

What does breast milk smell like? This is a question that many mothers want to know before they offer their children a drink from the tap. In this blog post, we will explore what breast milk tastes like and if it can spoil. We will also discuss how you can tell if your milk has gone bad in addition to what might happen if your baby drinks spoiled milk!

Breast milk is divided into two categories: “fresh” and “usable.”

>> Fresh milk is pretty self-explanatory like freshly pumped milk at its freshest, packed with the nutrients and antibodies found in breast milk.

>> Although usable milk has passed its prime (right after pumping), it is still safe for your baby. It has been correctly kept in the refrigerator or freezer, does not contain germs, and will not endanger your baby’s health. You can ensure your child’s nutrition, but some of the advantages may be lost since it is no longer “fresh.”

In general, the following guidelines should be followed for fresh breastmilk:

>> 4 to 6 hours at room temperature (optimal) 

>> 3 days (best) to 8 days in the refrigerator 

>> 3–6 months in the freezer

>> 6–12 months in a deep freeze

Keep in mind

Consider that altering the way of storing does not reset the storage clock while observing safe storage recommendations. If you have milk in your refrigerator for eight days, putting it in the freezer will not extend its life by another six to twelve months.

What factors can impact the storage time of breast milk in the fridge?

Temperature and storage vessels are the two major variables that influence how long milk may be kept.

Milk should be kept towards the rear of the refrigerator, where the temperature is lowest and most consistent, and where the temperature is less influenced by the door opening and shutting.

Guide to store milk in the fridge

Warm room (80 to 90F / 27 to 32C)3-4 hoursdo not store
Counter top - Room temperature (60-85F / 16-29C)4 hours (best)
6-8 hours
1-2 hours
Insulated cooler bag (5 to 39F / -15-4C)24 hours1-2 hours
Refrigerator (39F / 4C) 72 hours (ideal)24 hours
Freezer (5F / -15C)2 weeksdo not freeze
Deep freezer (-4 to 0F / -20 to -18C)6-12 monthsdo not freeze


Due to the greater temperature variations that occur when refrigerator doors are opened, breast milk should never be kept in the refrigerator door.

Milk may be kept in a refrigerator freezer for up to 6 months. Due to the obvious lower and more consistent temperature in a freestanding freezer (also referred as a “deep freezer”), milk may be stored for up to 12 months without deteriorating.

Keep your milk in hard plastic bottles or glass baby bottles, or in professionally manufactured milk storage bags designed especially for freezing. To avoid contamination and milk deterioration, both should be clean and fully sealed before storage.

Understanding the smell of breast milk

What does breast milk smell like?

Breast milk smells like nothing, or like whatever the mother has recently eaten. If there is something odd about the smell of a woman’s milk, it may be an indicator that she needs to see a doctor (for example if her baby is not feeding well). Some women are surprised at how sweet their breastmilk smells and tastes when they taste test it themselves!

While it can be hard to describe the smell of breast milk, there are some clear signs that something is wrong. The first sign usually means that your baby isn’t going to enjoy their meal!

Bad-smelling breast milk has a sour or metallic odor and can quickly turn rancid if left out too long. A change in the smell of your breast milk usually means that it’s gone bad. There are a few different reasons why this might happen, and knowing the answer to “what does bad breast milk smell like” can help you care for both yourself and your baby!

Bad-smelling or spoiled breast milk is not safe for consumption by either an adult or a child. Spoilage can affect both the taste and smell of human breast milk, which means that it could cause problems for your baby as well. If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not a bottle of breast milk is good to feed to your baby, just throw it out! It’s better than risking an upset stomach or worse.

Bad-smelling breast milk can happen for several reasons. The first is that you’ve been careless when storing it and left the container in too warm or humid an environment. Warm temperatures increase bacterial growth, which could lead to mold forming inside of your bottle! You should always store open bottles of expressed human milk in a refrigerator with less than 40°F.

Another cause of bad-smelling breast milk is a change in the diet you’re following while breastfeeding your child. Sometimes, certain foods and supplements can have an effect on how your body chemistry reacts with the milk it’s producing for your little one! If you’ve been eating asparagus or garlic lately, chances are your baby isn’t going to enjoy the way their meal smells.

More commonly, however, a change in your diet won’t affect the smell of your breast milk at all! Instead, it’s probably just an indication that something has changed with how you’re producing or storing human milk for consumption. This means that it’s time to switch to a brand new container for your breast milk and maybe even to consider putting it in the fridge until you’ve used up all of what was inside.

What does breast milk taste like?

Since smell and taste are so strongly related, the same things that influence the scent of your milk may also affect the flavor of your milk. The nutrition of a mother is particularly important. A woman’s breast milk may be flavored by strong tastes, particularly a “spicy” taste or pungent spices.

Breast milk tastes different for everyone. The unique combination of ingredients in your body will affect how it tastes. Some people describe the taste as sweet, while others have said that they do not enjoy the flavor at all and would rather drink water or juice instead! As baby gets older, their unique taste for breast milk changes. Newborns may find that their mother’s milk tastes different than what they are used to, but this does not mean that it has gone bad!

As long as your baby is able to nurse from you without any hesitation or complaints, then the breast milk should be fine. It can take a few feedings for your baby to get used to the new taste of breast milk. If you are breastfeeding exclusively, then it is important that you maintain a healthy diet that will give high-quality ingredients to create the best-tasting breastmilk possible.

To ensure that there isn’t anything wrong with your infant’s nursing technique, make sure to watch out for these common cues:

>> If the baby is having a hard time latching on correctly

>> If baby falls asleep at the breast within 20 minutes of breastfeeding or cannot stay awake to nurse properly during feedings. Your child may be getting tired and need a break! It’s okay if they fall asleep after feeding for up to 30-60 minutes.

>> If your infant is not gaining weight or has lost any gained weight since the last pediatrician visit. It may be a sign that the milk flow isn’t adequate for growth and development!

Remember, it’s important to take care of yourself while breastfeeding as well. You need time in between feedings to rest and recover. If you have had a C-section, then try to avoid lying on your stomach as much as possible. Keep the surgical area clean and free of any pressure or friction from clothing!

 If you feel any pain while nursing, then stops and check in with your doctor to see if there are any changes that need to be made.

Why does my breast milk taste salty?

Because of the increased sodium and chloride concentration in breast milk, it may taste salty. If your infant is nursing, the difference in flavor may cause them to cry. Your baby will not perceive any difference if he or she is tube fed.

How to tell if breast milk has gone bad?

Here are the four reasons that you can say if froze breast milk is bad:

a) A sour smell is a sign that breast milk has turned. If you notice this, your baby should not be given the milk and it’s best to throw out the rest of the bottle because there could also be bacteria in it. Breastmilk will have a sweet scent but if yours smells foul or spoiled then don’t use it.

b) If you notice that the milk is separating, this means it’s starting to spoil. Once breastmilk separates into layers of water and fat then it should not be used for your child anymore because there could also be bacteria in it too. Breastmilk will usually stay together but if yours has become separated or clumpy when it is cold then discard it.

c) If you notice that the bottle has been opened for several hours and your baby hasn’t eaten from it, this could mean that bacteria have grown in between feedings. Breastmilk can stay fresh if refrigerated properly but once it’s left out too long or at room temperature for a while then you should discard it.

d) If you notice that the milk has a greenish color, this means that bacteria have grown in it and your baby shouldn’t be given the breastmilk. Breastmilk will usually stay white but if yours is discolored to any other weird shade then toss it out immediately.         

How long can breast milk stay in the fridge?

According to the CDC:

>> Freshly expressed or pumped milk can be kept:

>> At room temperature (77°F or colder) for up to 4 hours.

>> Refrigerated milk is good for up to 4 days.

It’s recommended to keep it in the freezer for at least 6 months, but up to 12 months is OK. While freezing keeps food safe for practically infinite periods of time, it’s still essential to stick to the suggested storage durations for the best results.

Most women will agree that if it were them, they would want to use the milk within a few days of pumping or expression. However, there are some mothers out there that state that breast milk can be kept in the fridge for up two weeks after expressing/pumping. So who is right, and why do these answers differ?

First of all, it’s important to know that breast milk can be kept in the fridge for a few days without any issue whatsoever. The expiration date on your breastmilk storage bags should not actually have an expiration date because you are able to store them in the fridge for up to a few days.

Keeping breastmilk in the fridge is important because it keeps them at a proper temperature so that they do not spoil or go bad easily. It’s always better if you can use your milk within two days, but this is not something that should be stressed out over too much if you are unable to meet those guidelines.

The reason some mothers state that they are able to keep breast milk in the fridge for up two weeks is that their baby will not drink it all within a few days of expression or pumping. This means that when you pump/express your breasts, you need to store them properly so they do not spoil and go bad before using them.

What does breast milk smell like And how to tell if it’s gone bad1

What happens if a baby drinks spoiled breast milk?        

Telling someone to not drink spoiled milk is like telling them don’t go outside without sunscreen. It’s a no-brainer that they should never do it, but people can still make mistakes and sometimes those choices come with consequences that must be managed by the parent to ensure the baby’s health isn’t compromised as a result of this mistake.  

Babies have sensitive digestive systems and can easily get sick from spoiled milk because their immune system has not fully developed yet. If a baby drinks spoiled milk it could mean they aren’t going to eat for a while, but more seriously means the baby will be nauseous with vomiting or diarrhea that is bloody in nature which are signals of a more serious condition.

If they are vomiting or have diarrhea, the baby should be taken to the pediatrician immediately so that they can get an IV for rehydration and medicine for any pain associated with their symptoms. The doctor will then check for signs of dehydration which is often accompanied by sunken eyes, decreased tears when crying, and a dry mouth.

If the baby shows signs of dehydration, they may need to be hospitalized for IV fluids and antibiotic treatment in order to get rid of any bacteria that is causing their symptoms. It is not uncommon for babies who drink spoiled milk to have prolonged diarrhea or vomiting which can lead them getting infections such as salmonella, listeriosis, or E. coli which can be life-threatening if not treated properly in time.

It’s important to make sure that the baby has a healthy diet after they have consumed spoiled milk because it may take days for their digestive system to recover from all of the pain and suffering they endured during this process. Babies need to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet in order for their body to receive the proper nutrition it needs because any lack will cause them long-term effects such as malnutrition, anemia, or even failure to thrive.

Why is there high lipase in my breastmilk?         

Lipase is present naturally in breast milk, and it’s thought that too much of it may cause the taste of the milk to alter. It’s thought that high levels of lipase cause the fats in your milk to break down more rapidly when kept at cold temperatures, affecting the taste and fragrance.

The rate of lipase activity, not the quantity of lipase in your milk, is the real source of the sour smell and flavor. While some mothers may keep milk in the refrigerator or freezer for a long time without noticing a difference in the scent, others detect a difference after just 24 hours. This is thought to be due to a quicker rate of lipid breakdown, which causes the milk to smell sooner.

Let’s be clear: having high lipase activity in your milk isn’t an indication that anything is wrong with you. You are not a failure, and this does not imply that anything is physically wrong with you.

The complaint that “my milk tastes soapy” is very frequent. So, don’t allow this blip in your nursing journey to become yet another arbitrary metric by which you judge your value as a mother!

However, if you’re a nursing mom who wants to return to work or simply take a much-needed vacation — and your baby won’t drink your saved, high-lipase milk — you’ll need a fix.


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Chelsy Gallagher