Expressing and other milk facts


Whether you need to go back to work or are just desperate for a break, expressing milk can give you the best of both worlds: the goodness of breast milk but some of the freedom of bottle feeding. Expressing milk on a regular basis also means you can increase your supply for the growth spurts when baby never seems to be satisfied.

iStock_000008927652XSmallThere are a number of expressing machines on the market, either manual or electric. The manual ones are the cheapest but the process of expressing can be quite lengthy. The electric ones are much speedier and many mums agree, worth the extra pennies. As with the bottles, every part of the expressing machine needs to be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized before use.

Expressed milk can be kept for:

  • up to five days in the main part of a fridge (at a temperature of four degrees Celsius, or lower),
  • up to two weeks in the freezer compartment of a fridge, and
  • up to six months in a domestic freezer (at a temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius, or lower).

Frozen breast milk should be de-frosted in the fridge or in hot water (still in its bag). Don’t de-frost or heat breast milk in a microwave as this kills off all the goodness in it.

Milk Quantities

If you breastfeed it’s hard to know how much milk your baby is getting per feed, unless you express a whole feed. But this doesn’t really matter. If your baby is thriving, growing and developing well, and sleeping for longer periods of time at night as he gets older, he’s obviously getting enough.

If you formula feed, there will be guidelines on the packaging of how much to give but below is a indication of how much your baby should be having per feed:

  • New born: 1-2 oz per feed (approx 16 oz in a day)
  • 1 month: 3-4 oz per feed (upto approx 28 oz in a day)
  • 2 to 6 months: 4-6 oz per feed (upto 35 fl oz in a day)
  • 6 months plus: initially 6-8 fl oz per feed and upto 32 fl oz in a day. This will gradually decrease as solid meals become established. Your baby should have about 20 fl oz per day up until his first birthday

Milk after 6 months

From 6 months, babies still need a high volume of breast or formula milk per day. This is gradually replaced by solid food over the next 6 months. Even after 12 months, children still need the nutrients that milk provides and most of them still want a bottle up to 400 mls per day. Cows milk isn’t appropriate for them to drink until after 12 months. However it can be used for cooking and in cereal.

If you’re bottle feeding and your baby seems to want more milk, then you could try a specially formulated follow-on milk babies of 6 months plus. This contains more calories than standard formula, and has more protein and iron. It’s particularly good for babies who are struggling with solid food. But if your baby has a varied diet with sources of protein and iron, you shouldn’t need follow-on milk.

Other types of formula milk

  • Organic. Normal infant formula has all the nutritious qualities required and none of the pesticides you might worry about so organic formula isn’t really necessary.
  • Soya. Largely used for babies who have a lactose intolerance and can’t have a cow’s milk-based formula. You don’t need to give soya formula unless you’ve been told to by your GP or health visitor. And in this case you may be able to get it on prescription.
  • Goats and sheep. Goats milk formula hasn’t been approved for use in Europe but both goats and sheep milk formula can still be found in some specialist shops. Not nearly as nutritious as the cow’s milk-based formula so it’s best not to use it. Also has similar amounts of lactose as cow’s milk so not useful in the case of intolerance.
  • Hydrolyzed and Elemental Milk. Specially formulated for highly allergic babies.  Only available on prescription, these milks have been treated in a way that breaks up the proteins so becoming easier to be absorbed by babies allergic to cow’s milk.

Types of non formula milk

From 12 months a babys digestive system is more able to digest normal milk, and move away from formula milk. Here are the different types of milk available for your baby to drink. Through early childhood, milk is still an important source of calcium.

  • Cows milk – preferably full fat unless your baby has a weight issue then semi-skimmed will do. You can use cows milk in food from around 8 months and as a drink from 12 months.
  • Goats milk – has become increasily popular for people who suffer from slight cows milk intolerance as the proteins are easier to digest and because goats eat a wider variety of greens than cows, is often seen as more nutritious than cows milk. It now widely available in major supermarkets and even some smaller local ones as well as health food stores.
  • Soya milk – a very popular alternative to cows milk for a non-dairy diet. Soya doesn’t agree with some and like the formula variety, there are still some concerns over the hormone levels, but on the whole a good choice if there is a dairy intolerence. Widely available in fresh and long life form.
  • Rice milk – if there is a dairy intolerance and soya is also not tolerated well, rice milk is a popular alternative. However, the Food Standards agency has advised that children up to the age of 4.5 shouldn’t be given rice milk as an alternative to their usual milk due to the amount of inorganic arsenic they could be exposed to. For full details click here
  • Coconut milk – not the liquid inside the coconut but extracted from the flesh of the fruit. There are a number of brands now producing the dairy free drinking coconut milk, which is delicious, very nutritious and a healthy alternative to dairy milk from 12 months. At the moment available in many health food shops.
  • Nut and grain milks – only appropriate if there is no allergy of nuts and gluten. Nut milk, the most common being almond, is another alternative to dairy and popular with vegans. Grain milk, usually made from a particular grain like oats, plus water and other grains, is popular due to it low fat, cholesterol free and high fibre content. Nut and grain milks can be made at home.

For more information on milk and milk intolerance visit  the Government Eatwell website.


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