They call breast milk liquid gold for a reason – it’s loaded with good-for-baby nutrients. If you’re like most moms, you probably assume that your breast milk has one use: to your feeding baby. While that’s its primary purpose, there are dozens of other uses for breast milk that can help remedy common childhood and baby illnesses.
We’re going to share some of the top uses for breast milk, so you can make the most of that liquid gold while you can.
Table of Contents
Breast Milk for Pink Eye
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, occurs when the conjunctiva (that’s the little clear membrane that covers the eye) becomes inflamed and infected. Some babies get pink eye because of bacteria, but it can also viral or through serious irritation.
For most babies, conjunctivitis is caused by either a virus or an infection, and it can cause itching, irritation and/or discharge.
Pink eye is more common than you think in newborns. That’s because their immune systems are still immature, and for many little ones, their tear ducts are blocked.
The conventional way to treat pink eye is to use antibiotic drops. But many moms say breast milk will do the trick. And there’s anecdotal evidence that breast milk has helped clear bacterial, viral and allergic forms of pink eye.
Experts admit that moms have probably been using breast milk for eye infections for decades, but still recommend talking to your doctor before administering this treatment to your little one.
If your doctor gives you the “okay,” you can use a clear eyedropper to put two drops of milk into your baby’s infected eye.
Fun fact: Breast milk is also a great contact lens solution (seriously).
Breast Milk for Ear Infection
Ear infections are extremely common in babies. In fact, it’s the second-most common illness in babies in the U.S.
Nearly half of all babies will have an ear infection by the time they reach their first birthday.
Like conjunctivitis, ear infections are usually caused by a virus or a bacteria. Fluid builds up behind the eardrum, and then it becomes infected.
Fluid usually moves through the tube that connects the middle ear to the nose and throat. Sometimes, that tube gets blocked, like when that baby gets a cold, allergies or a sinus infection. When that tube gets blocked, there’s nowhere for the fluid to go.
Bacteria thrives in warm, dark and wet places, so the middle ear is the perfect place for an infection to develop.
An ear infection can be quite uncomfortable for your baby. Symptoms include:
- Inflammation, which can make the infection more painful
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Poor appetite
- Yellow or white fluid in the ear
Some babies will tug on their ears when they have an infection, and are generally more fussy than normal. But ear-tugging isn’t a surefire sign that your baby has an infection. Babies will tug on their ears for many reasons – sometimes none at all.
In many cases, infections clear on their own, but your doctor may also suggest some treatment options.
Many moms use their breast milk to treat ear infections. Simply add a few drops of your milk to the baby’s infected ear using a clear, sterile eyedropper.
Regardless of which treatment route you take, make sure that you keep an eye on your baby’s fever and stay in contact with your doctor. Some babies develop dangerously high fevers when they have ear infections.
Breast Milk Diaper Rash
Diaper rash is uncomfortable for your little one, but don’t fret – it’s very common. Nearly all babies will experience diaper rash at some point or another, so it’s nearly impossible to avoid.
These rashes develop when bacteria attacks your baby’s bum. Diapers provide the warm, wet and dark places bacteria thrive in, so rashes can easily develop. Sometimes, rashes can develop when diapers are too tight, or if cloth diapers haven’t been washed properly.
As far as symptoms go, most babies will develop a rash, but blistering, pimples, peeling and redness are also common.
If you catch it early on, the rash may not require much treatment, if at all. Simply keeping the area clean and dry may be enough to prevent the condition from getting worse.
But if the rash has developed into something more serious, you can use conventional diaper rash creams. Or you can take the natural route and use your breast milk.
Studies have shown that applying breast milk to the rash several times per day is just as effective as a 1% hydrocortisone cream. Just make sure that you clean and dry the area before applying the milk.
Babies also benefit from a little “naked time” every now and again, which gives the area some time to dry out and prevent the bacteria from thriving.
Breast Milk for Eczema
Babies have extremely sensitive skin, which makes them more prone to eczema and other skin issues. In fact, eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in young children.
When it occurs, the skin becomes hyper-sensitive and dry.
The majority of kids will outgrow the condition by their third birthday, but some kids will continue battling eczema until their teenage years, or for the rest of their lives.
Eczema can be caused by simple irritation, a household allergen, food allergies or even overheating.
Studies have shown that breast milk is just as effective as creams and ointments when treating eczema. That’s because breast milk contains essential nutrients and antibodies that help keep the skin clear and healthy.
Breast Milk for Baby Acne
And you thought acne was only for teenagers. Baby acne is a thing, and it’s more common than you think. While it will clear on its own, the healing stage can take longer than you’d like.
Baby acne typically develops at two to three weeks, but can last until the baby is four to six months old.
What causes these baby breakouts? Your hormones. Yes, your hormones.
In the early stages of life, your hormones are still circulating through your newborn’s body from pregnancy.
Sometimes, acne can also be caused by immature sweat glands or clogged pores (just like with teens).
Before you panic, it’s important to remember that baby acne is very common. And it’s just as important not to pick at the blemishes or scrub them, as it can lead to scarring.
Keeping your baby’s clean is one way to help clear things up, but breast milk can also help wipe away blemishes. The antimicrobial properties of your milk are what help get rid of the acne.
Your body produces plenty of milk and it won’t cost you a dime to rub some on your baby’s acne while she’s breastfeeding.
Breast Milk for Cradle Cap
By now, you’ve probably figured out that breast milk is the perfect treatment for most skin conditions babies experience.
Cradle cap is no exception.
For moms who are unfamiliar, cradle cap occurs when scaly patches develop on the baby’s scalp. Also known as infant seborrheic dermatitis, this condition is a newborn’s version of dandruff.
The exact causes of cradle cap are still unknown, but doctors believe it may be caused by an overproduction of sebum in the hair follicles and oil glands. Yeast and bacteria can grow in the sebum, which can also contribute to cradle cap.
Cradle cap can cause a variety of symptoms, but some of the most common include thick crusts of skin on the scalp, yellow scales, oily patches of skin, and skin flakes (a.k.a. dandruff).
Cradle cap isn’t a life-threatening condition, and it typically disappears on its own. But moms may want to gently loosen and remove the scales to keep the scalp as healthy as possible.
Over-the-counter treatments are available for cradle cap, but you can also help treat this condition with your breast milk. Remember, your milk has potent antibacterial properties, which can help kill off any yeast or bacteria that may be causing your baby’s dandruff.
Breast Milk Recipes
Did you know you can use breast milk in certain recipes? Many women use their breast milk to bake or even use it in tea to add nutrients while also helping boost milk supplies (the more you use, the more you make).
Here are some creative ways to use your breast milk:
- Breast milk cheese
- Breast milk cookies
- Breast milk tea
- Breast milk soap
While you (or even your family) may be on board with trying these recipes, be cautious when serving it to guests – they may not appreciate it.