Breast milk is called liquid gold for a reason! While it’s obviously the best food for babies, there are some surprising uses for breast milk you may not know!
Even if you weren’t a parent, you’d still know that breastfeeding is best for baby – there’s so much awareness about it! Local bodies to government bodies put in lots of effort in spreading the message about how good breastfeeding is for both mother and child.
And for good reason too. It’s not for nothing that the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life – breast truly is best! But did you know that breast milk’s qualities are not limited to food?
That’s right! Scientists have studied breast milk extensively, and we still don’t know the full composition of breast milk as well as its benefits. What we do know so far is that it has more than 200 different ingredients, including the all important Immunoglobulin A, or IgA. These compounds in breast milk give it its amazing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. It is estimated that just a single drop of breast milk has almost a million white blood cells that fight infections.
When you have something that has so many benefits, it’s natural that it will be used for more than one purpose! So here we bring to you 12 surprising uses for breast milk – some you may have heard of before, but some may be absolutely new to you!
12 Surprising Uses for Breast Milk
1. Eye and Ear Infections
Newborns and infants are prone to infections of the eyes and ears, including blocked tear ducts and conjunctivitis. While most of these go away on their own, it helps to apply a little breast milk to make it heal faster. You can either directly squirt it in the eye from the breast, or express some milk and use a dropper.
2. Stuffy Nose
Stuffy, congested noses can make babies miserable, who haven’t yet figured out other ways to breathe! A nasal aspirator or bulb syringe is what most parents use in this case, along with saline, which is a sterile solution to moisturize the nasal passages.
However, many Moms have found that breast milk does the job just as well, or even better since babies aren’t startled when the milk gets into their mouth, unlike salty saline. The best way to do this is to express some milk and use a sterile syringe.
3. Diaper rash
Most babies have at least a few episodes of diaper rash in their lifetime, and some babies are more prone to it. While there are many home remedies for diaper rash that you can try, one of the best ones is breast milk. According to a 2013 study in Pediatric Dermatology, breast milk was found to be as effective as hydrocortisone for diaper rash. First gently pat the breast milk on the affected area and let it air dry before applying anything else or a diaper.
Some babies are extra vulnerable to skin rashes like eczema, which appears as red, itchy skin, and it can be quite distressing to see them suffer with the discomfort. However, a 2015 study in the International Journal of Dermatology finds that for mild to moderate eczema, breast milk works just as well as hydrocortisone.
5. Cradle Cap
Cradle cap is a common condition in newborns, and it appears as a thin crusty layer on the scalp. It could be due to a yeast overgrowth, and most Moms are advised to let it go away on its own. Yet if you think it’s bothering your baby, you can try applying some breast milk on it to help it disappear quicker.
Teething is something every baby must go through, but you can help make it much more bearable with a few teething home remedies! One of the best sources of comfort is something cold and hard for baby to gnaw on, and we can’t think of anything better than a breast milk Popsicle! They’re cold, baby-friendly and nutritious and require no extra ingredients!
7. Cracked Nipples
If you’ve just started breastfeeding or your baby is still perfecting his latch, you are likely to suffer from sore, cracked nipples. Sore nipples can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, which can create a fear of breastfeeding in mothers.
Moms worry about applying anything to their nipples since it’ll get into their baby’s bodies, but when it’s breast milk, you don’t have to worry! Breast milk’s natural anti-inflammatory properties don’t just soothe the pain but they also prevent infection and help the nipples heal.
As toddlers and kids start moving out and about, they are more likely to get sunburnt. The perfect remedy for a sunburn is breast milk. It is as soothing as something like aloe vera gel, and it has natural antibodies that prevent infection and encourage healing.
9. Insect Bites
Just like breast milk works on sunburn, it also works on other forms of skin irritation like that caused by insect bites or exposure to certain plants like poison ivy or poison oak. Whether it’s a bee sting or mosquito bite, applying some breast milk directly on the affected area offers comfort from the pain and itchiness, and it also prevents any further infection.
10. Dry Skin
Dry skin can be tough to deal with, aggravated by the use of skin care products that dry out the skin even further. While applying breast milk is one solution, another innovative way to get the benefits of breast milk is by making your own breast milk soap! Mum’s Grapevine has the recipe for making the soap which can be used for babies or anyone else.
Just as dry skin is a problem for some people, many others suffer from acne – including babies. However, both adult acne and infant acne can be cured with one common thing – breast milk. Breast milk contains lauric acid which helps to heal acne and restore skin. Just apply a little milk on a cotton ball and dab on the affected areas.
12. Makeup Removal
Now here’s a use of breast milk you may have not heard before! Breast milk’s slightly runny nature makes it a good pre-cleanser, and helps to remove makeup – especially tough eye makeup. Just take a cotton ball dipped in some breast milk and use as usual.
It may not be possible to immediately express some milk when the situation to use it arises, say someone gets bitten by an insect. To ensure that you always have some breast milk on hand for emergencies, it’s best to freeze some of it in an ice tray so you can just pop out a cube whenever necessary. The cold cubes are also great for cases like insect bites or sunburn.
Now while all these breast milk remedies are being tried by Moms across the world, it’s important to note that using raw, unpasteurized breast milk can also be dangerous. Breast milk from an unknown source can transmit dangerous microbes like streptococcus, staphylococcus, yeast and even herpes HIV. This is why it is recommended to use your own breast milk stored under the right conditions. Please be sure to always consult your pediatrician before trying out any of these home remedies.