Unlike frozen breast milk, the act of freeze-drying breast milk allows it to retain its nutritional content and remain shelf stable for up to three years. For all the moms out there, this means that you have a superfood at your disposal throughout your child’s early years, when their growth is rapid and their immune system is maturing.
In addition to making a bottle using your freeze-dried milk, you can also use your breast milk powder to boost the nutrient content of your child’s foods as they get older and start eating solid foods. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use freeze-dried breast milk to supplement your child’s diet:
1. For the Picky Eater
Breast milk is truly a superfood. In addition to macronutrients like protein, fats, carbs and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, breast milk also contains antibodies which boost a baby’s immune system and HMOs or human milk oligosaccharides, which help set up a baby’s microbiome.
If your child is going through a picky phase and only touching one food on their plate, amp up the nutrition by sprinkling your freeze-dried milk on top of their food or use it in recipes where you would traditionally use milk like oatmeal or mac and cheese. Use it on-the-go to add to convenience foods or when healthy options are limited. This will boost the overall nutrient content of the foods that your child is eating and help support optimal growth and development.
2. For the Sick Child
Breast milk contains large amounts of secretory IgA, or antibodies that have formed as a result of a mother’s past exposure to certain infectious diseases. These antibodies help build a baby’s own immune defense system. Breast milk also contains certain compounds that have antimicrobial effects, which can inhibit the growth of bacteria.
When your child is fighting off a cold or a stomach bug, incorporating your freeze-dried breast milk into their foods may help give their immune systems an extra boost of fighting power! It’s also reassuring to know that when they are sick and have little to no appetite, that getting them to consume some freeze-dried breast milk will deliver a variety of immune-boosting vitamins and minerals like vitamin C.
3. For Digestion
Breast milk is made up of easy-to-digest protein and carbohydrates perfect for a baby’s immature digestive system. Breast milk also contains human milk oligosaccharides, a type of non-digestible carbohydrate that helps set up a baby’s microbiome. Research (1) shows that the gut microbial population in breastfed infants is dominated by Bifidobacterium, a particular strain of bacteria that is known to reduce constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Often when a baby is first introduced to solid foods, they experience some gastrointestinal issues as their newly formed GI tracts get used to digesting a whole range of new foods. While this is a very common and natural experience, it doesn’t hurt to help ease their tummies by incorporating freeze-dried breast milk powder into their foods!
1. Yang I, Corwin EJ, Brennan PA, Jordan S, Murphy JR, Dunlop A. The Infant Microbiome: Implications for Infant Health and Neurocognitive Development. Nurs Res. 2016;65(1):76-88. doi:10.1097/NNR.0000000000000133
About Claire Virga (RD, MS, CDN)
Claire Virga is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with her Master's in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Claire practices at Rooted Wellness, a nutrition counseling practice specializing in women’s health. As a dietitian, Claire supports and empowers clients at every stage of their motherhood journey including preconception nutrition, prenatal & postpartum health and childhood nutrition.