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Expressed Breastmilk in Child Care Centres

Breastmilk is the only food or drink a baby needs for the first six months of life and after that, breastmilk should continue to be offered along with solid foods to two years and longer.

Many families at your centre may choose to send expressed breastmilk for their child to drink while they are in your care. Here are some tips for handling and serving expressed breastmilk safely:

  • Containers of breastmilk must be labelled with the date, name of child and name of mother.
  • Containers of breastmilk must be refrigerated upon arrival at a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius or colder and kept in the refrigerator until time to be served.
  • Ask the parent/caregiver if the child has a preference for a temperature. Warm the container of breastmilk in warm water. Swirl the contents and test for temperature before feeding the child (microwaves should never be used for warming breastmilk).
  • If breastmilk is frozen it can be left in the refrigerator to thaw. If still frozen when it is needed, the milk can then be warmed by placing the container in cool water to finish thawing before warming.
  • Gloves must be worn by staff if breastmilk is dispensed from one container to another.
  • Throw away what the child does not drink.

Breastmilk is a body fluid and may potentially contain pathogens. Safe handling, thawing, storage and administration are required in order to minimize the risk of infection to children and staff. Routine Practices apply when handling breastmilk, as with other body fluids. Hands should be cleaned before handling expressed breastmilk (EBM). Staff should wear gloves when handling EBM, if there is a risk of getting milk on the hands (PIDAC April 2012). Hands must be cleaned after contact with EBM. If another child consumes EBM intended for someone else, call the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit immediately.


Contact the Public Health Inspectors on the Environmental Health Team by calling 519.426.6170 or 905.318.6623

Interested in learning how to become a Breastfeeding-Friendly Centre?

Call the Maternal and Child Health Team of the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519.426.6170 or 905.318.6623

Updated March 2020. Adapted from Toronto Public Health