Healthy Eating Guideline

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended, with postivie support, for babies up to six months. Continued breastfeeding is recommended for at least 12 months - and longer if the mother and baby wish.

Breastmilk is the ideal food for young babies. Babies need only breastmilk (or infant formula if breastfeeding is not possible) during the first six months, with breastfeeding ongoing until 12 months of age, and longer if mother and baby wish. Your workplace should encourage mothers to offer breastmilk to their babies where possible. Until a baby starts on solid foods, there is no need for any food preparation – however, you may be required to handle breastmilk.

Safe handling of breastmilk

Babies should only drink breastmilk that has come from their own mother. Care is needed to ensure that breastmilk is kept in the best condition for the baby to drink. It is also important to make sure that breastmilk doesn’t come into contact with other food or drink.

Labelling and storage

  • Breastmilk that is not used on the day and is brought from home should be discarded at the end of the day.
  • Breastmilk should be brought to the early childhood setting:
    • in sterilised plastic bottles, and in an insulated container
    • labelled with the name of the child, and the date to be used.
  • Bottles should be placed in a non-spill tray on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. This is to make sure that if knocked or spilled, breastmilk does not drip onto other food.

Heating breastmilk

Babies can drink breastmilk straight from the refrigerator, however if a baby prefers warm milk:
  • Heat the milk by standing the bottle in warm water.
  • Always check the temperature of the milk before giving it to a baby.
  • Do not warm the milk in the microwave, as often this does not heat the milk evenly and can cause burns. Also, microwaving breastmilk may destroy some of its natural benefits.
  • Discard any leftover breastmilk that has been heated, or any milk that is left in a bottle after a feed. This cannot be saved for later or rewarmed.

Protocols for breastmilk

When it is time to give a baby breastmilk from the fridge:
  • Ensure that two staff members have checked that the name on the bottle is correct for the baby who is to be fed.
  • Sign the baby’s feeding record.
  • Offer the breastmilk in the sterilised plastic bottle or cup provided by the mother. Some families will choose to feed their babies with bottles, while others may choose to have the expressed breastmilk offered in a cup. Babies are usually ready to drink from a cup at around seven or eight months of age.
  • If a baby is given the milk of another mother, or if you think this might have happened, notify your director or manager immediately.