The benefits of breast milk for feeding a baby have long been shouted about, but the white stuff has some other, more surprising, plus points, particularly in the summertime.
“Breastmilk is an amazing substance, not only does it provide the perfect nutrition for your baby at any age, but it also adapts to changes in the season and particularly the weather,” explains Liz Halliday, Deputy Head of Midwifery at Private Midwives.
So to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August) we’ve gathered together some other super amazing summer uses for breast milk.
Breast milk to soothe teething pains
Little one suffering the dreaded teething? Try pouring some expressed breast milk into an ice lolly mould and freezing it. When the pain kicks in, you can whip out a ‘mumsicle’ to help soothe their gums and keep them cool in the heat.
“Frozen breast milk (usually in the form of an ice pop) is an excellent remedy for teething,” says Halliday.
“Most babies love to chew on something cold, and with a breast milk pop you know they are also getting nutritional benefit as well as the numbing effect of the cold which can help with discomfort.”
Breast milk to treat sticky eyes
According to some studies breast milk has been proven to be an effective treatment of conjunctivitis and other eye infections in newborns.
And the anecdotal evidence on parenting sites certainly suggests there’s something in it.
Mums who’ve tried the treatment suggest a couple of drops of breast milk in the eye will help clear up infections more speedily.
“With immature tear ducts, it is not unusual for babies to get sticky eyes, and a small amount of breast milk can help to clear that up,” explains Halliday.
“But it’s not just for baby! Conjunctivitis and even a sty can be treated with a few drops of expressed breast milk in older children and adults.” Just ask Ben Fogle!
Breast milk to reduce the risk of ear infections
Summer = increased risk of ear infections. Thanks largely to the weather, including both humidity and heat, and more time spent in the pool.
While studies suggest breastfeeding could contribute to lower incidences of ear infections in babies, some experts believe the antibodies in breast milk itself can help to treat ear infections
“A few drops of breast milk in the ear can help ease the symptoms of an ear infection too,” Halliday explains.
Breast milk to heal nappy rash, eczema or skin rashes
Breast milk contains natural moisturisers that can help speed up the nappy rash healing process, something that babies tend to suffer from more in the summer thanks to the increased heat.
"Breast milk is absolutely full of what's called lactobacillus and these are friendly bacteria that kill bad bacteria,” explains Rachel Fitz Desorgher, baby expert at The Baby Show and author of Your Baby Skin to Skin. “This is why they're such a vital part of a baby's diet.
“It can be very soothing and many parents will use it for knocking back bacteria, for example, some will use it to put on baby's bottoms with nappy rash as it's very soothing.”
Halliday adds that the constituents of breast milk make it a good moisturiser and of course it has antibiotic properties too.
If using breast milk to treat nappy rash, experts recommend washing the area with clean water first, then rubbing breast milk directly onto the rash and allowing to dry before popping on another nappy.
Breast milk to help treat sunburn
Forget to pack the aftersun? Breast milk is packed with antibodies, immune cells and antimicrobial factors, so it could well help to soothe sunburn.
“It is important for us all to be careful in the sun, and babies under a year old should be shaded, should have sun cream applied and wear loose, light clothing to protect their delicate skin,” warns Halliday.
”However, sunburn in older children and adults can be soothed with the application of breast milk. Simply dab it onto the skin with a cotton pad and let it sooth and heal the burned skin.”
Breast milk to help heal cuts or bites
If your child has a cut that is causing burning, itching, or stinging, a drop of breast milk could help disinfect it. Experts believe the antibodies found in breast milk, specifically IgA, can help prevent germs from growing on the site of injury.
“Essentially breast milk can be the first line of defence and can also be used to treat minor cuts because its high in natural sugars which help to stop bleeding,” explains Rachel Fitz Desorgher.
Halliday recommends seeking medical advice before using breast milk to treat any of the above.
“It is important to seek medical advice if you are concerned about your baby or family member, but using breast milk for minor ailments or to soothe rashes or ear infections before you can attend your doctor may prove to be invaluable,” she adds.