Milk in a glass jug

Milk is sensitive to high heat; it can lose nutrient value if exposed to temperatures that are too high, for too long. Heating milk in a microwave can lead to uneven hot spots which can cause unexpected scalding burns. The best way to heat cow's milk is to bring it to a slow simmer on the stove. You can heat breast milk to room temperature by placing it under warm water.

Heating Cow's Milk

Pour the milk into a small saucepan over medium heat.

Stir the milk gently with a spoon so it warms evenly. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add cocoa powder and chocolate, if desired. Stir the mixture.

Heat the milk until bubbles begin to form around the edges or until the chocolate and cocoa form a smooth consistency.


To make hot chocolate, add 4 ounces chopped chocolate and 1/4 cup cocoa powder per 2 cups milk.

Heating Breast Milk

Pour warm water into a deep bowl and submerge a bottle of breast milk. To avoid contamination, keep the nipple away from the water as much as possible.

Empty the bowl when the water cools and refill it with warm water, if necessary.

Remove the bottle from the warm water. Move the bottle in a circular motion to mix the nutrients within the milk. Pour a drop from the bottle onto the back of your wrist to test the temperature. The milk should feel warm to the touch, not hot.


Warming a refrigerated bottle typically takes three to five minutes. Let frozen breast milk thaw in the warm water at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes.


Do not warm milk or formula for babies in the microwave, as microwaves do not provide even heat and can cause scalding hot spots of milk that will burn a child.

Overheating milk or formula on the stove can damage the nutrients within the milk. Keep an eye on the temperature and use lower heat settings if unsure. Do not rush this process!