Pregnancy and parenting cause you to put all sorts of seemingly unrelated words together: there’s lightning crotch, diaper blowout, and now breast milk popsicles. Yep, you can turn pretty much any liquid into a popsicle, so it makes sense that frozen breast milk pops are a thing, and if you’ve never heard of them before, they may just be your new savior. From soothing gums that are sore thanks to teething, to feeding a baby who only wants the boob, or introducing baby’s first solids, breast milk popsicles are helpful in many ways. Here we’ll break down everything you’ll want to know about breast milk popsicles.
What is a breast milk popsicle?
A breast milk popsicle is pretty much exactly what it sounds like — frozen breast milk in a stick or a mold that the baby can hold and suck on.
“Breast milk popsicles are an excellent cold therapy tool and healthy infant snack,” Demi Lucas, IBCLC and senior patient coordinator at The Lactation Network tells Romper. While they’re commonly used for teething babies with irritated gums and sore mouths, Lucas says you can also use them to introduce children to the flavors of solids, by mixing solids with breast milk. “
Sick infants and children can benefit from the immunological properties of breast milk, while the cold aspect is soothing to their gums and mouths. Additionally, infants and toddlers who struggle to take a bottle or sippy cup can snack on milk popsicles while away from their lactating parents as a way to still get breast milk.” So if your little one is refusing a bottle, a popsicle could do the trick (and allow the lactating parent to sneak away for a bit).
How to make breast milk popsicles
Breast milk popsicles are not much more complicated to make than a bottle. “Of course, start with proper food handling techniques by washing the milk popsicle container in a separate basin (not directly in the sink) with a brush or sponge intended solely for infant feeding items. Dry with a clean towel or air dry,” Lucas says.
Younger babies or those who do not have teeth can use an infant food feeder; these are closed molds typically with silicone covers that have small holes (like this set of two from Target). Lucas says that using these (vs. an open popsicle mold) reduces the possibility of choking, and the cold silicone feels soothing on the baby's gums.
When it’s time to make the popsicle, just pull a bag of frozen breast milk out of the freezer. Then, Lucas explains, “using a butter knife, carefully chop off small pieces of frozen milk and put them inside the silicone food feeder. Put the remainder of the frozen milk back into the freezer. You'll probably need to hold the feeder for your baby if they are younger. Let them suck and chew on the breast milk popsicle.”
If your baby is familiar with solids, you can try mixing fresh breast milk with avocado, fruit (bananas and berries work well) or other foods they like, then freezing it all together. An open mold popsicle holder (one that makes pops they put directly in their mouths) works well for older kids.
While experimenting with adding different foods to the pop can be a fun way to introduce new tastes, Lucas cautions not to add honey to the popsicle mixture for infants under age 1.
When can babies have breast milk popsicles?
If your baby can take a bottle or breast, you can give them a breast milk popsicle, just make sure to use a closed mold for infants and carefully watch them.
“As long as you're using a silicone infant feeder, there's no minimum age. An open mold should only be used with older children, and they should be assessed for choking risk,” Lucas says. “As with any feeding, all babies and toddlers should be actively supervised.”
If you have a teething, cranky baby, a breast milk popsicle may just be your new breast friend (sorry). And if your baby is refusing a bottle, a pop is worth a try.
Rest assured that the milk still has benefits, even when it’s frozen. “Freezing (and boiling, by comparison) can kill off some of the living properties in breast milk, but breast milk benefits are still extremely powerful and bioavailable in the frozen form,” Lucas says.