Why Your Baby Hates Cold Breast Milk, According To Science

When I was breastfeeding my daughter, I was fascinated by information I learned along the way. For instance, the day she was sick and I discovered that mammary gland receptors would interpret her "baby spit backwash" to adjust its recipe and help her recover — mind blown. I also found out that eating various foods could affect the taste of my breast milk and she might not prefer it. The same goes for temperature — babies are like Goldilocks with their too hot, too cold nonsense. But there’s a reason why your baby hates cold breast milk, according to science.

"The reason many babies prefer milk warm is because it is like mom — when babies nurse they get warm milk," says Leigh Anne O’Connor, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and parenting coach, in an email interview with Romper. "It’s that simple."

Michelle Beckner, a certified health coach who specializes in nutrition for babies, tells Romper breast milk also tastes better to babies when it is warmed because it emulsifies fats. "Texture and flavor profile of the breast milk likely changes when the fats separate out at refrigeration temperatures. Once the breast milk is warmed and fats are emulsified, however, babies will often drink it at room temperature."

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Lisa Hugh, a Maryland-based registered dietitian, also points out that because the fat content separates from the rest of the milk, it usually floats on top and even sticks to sides of the bottle. "Basically, it is not homogenized like commercial cow's milk is," she tells Romper in an email interview.

That’s not to say that there are rules against giving a baby cold breast milk. In fact, as O’Connor points out, some babies don’t mind the taste of it. But it’s important to know that if you decide to give it a shot — for example on a road trip where you can’t easily warm it — then your baby might refuse it or not drink as much.

That means that even though the debate is still ongoing on whether or not breast milk affects a child’s intelligence later in life, one thing is for sure: these kids know what they want and won’t hesitate to tell you about it.