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Using expressed breastmilk in childcare settings

Providing a mother’s expressed breastmilk to her child in early childhood education and care services supports mother and child to continue.  While away from their child, mothers need to express breastmilk at similar intervals than they would normally breastfeed. Bottles of expressed breastmilk need to be carefully prepared, stored and heated.

Guidance on providing expressed breastmilk for Australian early childhood education and care settings is given in the NHMRC’s Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services (5th Edition) (2012), and in Get Up & Grow (2009).

It is not necessary to wear gloves handling breastmilk.  Breastmilk is not a listed body fluid in the Staying Healthy guidelines. Overuse of gloves can cause skin reactions and sensitivity.  Hands should always be washed with soap and water and dried before handling food.  The Staying Healthy guidelines state:

“Always wash and dry your hands before handling food. There is no need to wear gloves when preparing food if your hands are clean and dry. Gloves are not a substitute for clean hands... The same guidelines apply when you are preparing to give an infant a bottle as when you are preparing food for older children to eat.” (pp 56-57)

Tips for early childhood educators:

  • Ask about breastfeeding at the time of enrolment and support families to develop a breastfeeding plan.  How could you support the mother and child to reach their breastfeeding goals?

  • Identify your service as ‘breastfeeding friendly’ by displaying an Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) Breastfeeding Welcome Here sticker.

  • Breastmilk needs to be kept refrigerated or frozen.  All bottles need to be labelled with the child’s name and the date the bottle was prepared or brought in by the parent.

  • When thawing breastmilk, always use the oldest milk first, and just heat the amount you need – you can always heat up more, but once it has been heated up, it must be discarded at the end of the feed.  Never refreeze thawed breastmilk.

See also

expressing and storing breastmilk

Breastfeeding: expressing and storing breastmilk booklet

Breastfeeding: Expressing and Storing Breastmilk covers all aspects of expressing and storage of breastmilk including hand/pump expressing, when to hire/buy a pump, long term milk expression, and correct storage and handling of breastmilk.

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Department of Health and Ageing (2009) Get up & grow: Healthy eating and physical activity for early childhood, (Director/coordinator book).  ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.

Frith J, Kambouris N & O’Grady O (2003). Health & safety in children’s centres: Model policies & practices (2nd ed.). NSW: School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales.

National Health and Medical Research Council. (2012). Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services (5th ed.). ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.

National Health and Medical Research Council (2012). Infant Feeding Guidelines. NHMRC, Canberra .



 © Australian Breastfeeding Association Reviewed February 2018

Last reviewed: 
Feb 2018