20 answers

Breastmilk Taste and Smell???

I have a 12 week old baby girl. She is BF exclusively. When she was younger we gave her a few bottles of formula when she sucked me dry but not since. I have a pump but since it was hard to get any milk in the beginning I got lazy and gave up the idea.

Question: ( it is long so bear with me) she now wont take a bottle, I have bought sippy cups and straw bottles and will try those as per suggestions from other moms on other posts.
But I read something about some milk going bad because of a chemical in it that makes the babies not want it unless it is fresh from the breast. I have been pumping and freezing breast milk in preparation for cereal in a few weeks.
So yesterday or the day before I only was able to get 1 oz o milk. I stuck it in the fridge thinking it was the perfect amount to waste trying to get her to use a sippy cup. I warmed it up and smelled it and it smelled like soap to me, my husband said it smelled like dirt to him. I made him taste it ,i am a chicken about tasting my own milk, to see if it was good and he said it tasted weird but he did not know what breast milk should taste like so we threw it out.
A little later my daughter burped up and I smelled the same soapy smell as the breast milk in the fridge.
So I was wondering what is that chemical and what should breast milk smell like. Also someone wrote something about treating breast milk for storage so it would not go bad. I was wondering what that was so I can not waste milk i am freezing past or future.

Thanks in advance,

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I think that I might continue to pump and freeze the milk just in case it is not bad milk. I am pumping these days because I am trying to build my supply up because it is going to be going down due to blood pressure meds. I also think that sometimes it feels good to pump as I can get to feeling engorged if we just had a growth spirt and she stops eating as much for a few days.
I do not really care if we use the milk in the freezer it will not be the end of the world to me if when she starts rice cereal that I use water or formula in it. I was just trying to be a good mom and give her BM if I can.
I now have a supple of sippy cups of different sizes and shapes as well as food, juice, dishes and spoons for when she is old enough to use them. Most of my pumping has been due to prep for eating foods in a month or so. If she does not take a bottle so be it. I have breasts and she is welcome to have them any time she wants, i just hoped that my husband might be able to feed her once in a while but if she doesn't want that than she does not need to have that.
It is my special time with her and I enjoy it and it will not last forever so I am going to cherish it as long as we have it.
Thank you everyone for the advice and support. It was nice to know that I was on the right track in my thinking. Instincts are best but it is nice to have a sounding board just for reassurance once in a while.

For all the moms that gave good advice, I thank you. I know breast is best and that is what we have been doing so please do not worry. Also everything we are doing is with the consent of the ped. I would never do anything without first checking with the Dr about if it is safe or not.

Featured Answers

Hi T.,

This happened to me too and I thought it was from the soap I was using to wash my hand pump. I even resterilized everything and that didn't work. I never heard of lipaze before and now know that is what it must have been. I agree with Denise & S.H. and find her links very helpful. I will be scalding my BM the next time around!


More Answers

Your milk is made FOR your daughter. It will always smell weird and taste odd to us, becuase we're used to cow milk. Milk lasts about a week in the fridge, about 6 hours at room temp. and several months in the freezer. Do not 'treat' your milk with anything, ALL your daughter needs is you. Sounds like you're starting cereal WAY early, 6-7m would be better. Is she sitting up yet?
Your milk supply will be different at different times of day because it adusts to her needs. The best time to pump is before she gets up in the morning. Or if you wake-up in the night to pee or something, do it then. Or after she goes to bed at night.
REMEMBER to keep your supply up, eat and drink something healthy everytime you feed her or pump.
Keep breast feeding it's THE best thing you can do! Go to the Le Leche League International website or read their book, The WOmanly Art of Breastfeeding. It talks about MANY issues not just feeding. Find a meeting near you if you have more questions.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,

Congratulations on your sweet girl!

Lipase, an enzyme found naturally in breastmilk, starts to break down the fats in the milk and if abundant can cause this smell/taste that you described. I think this is your issue, I had a similar issue, and there are ways to address it. Check out this site for more detailed information:

-J. W

First...congratulations on your new little girl! Hang on you're in for quite a ride...lol.

Breastmilk lasts about 5-7 days in the fridge. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. The color, taste, and smell of breastmilk will change depending upon what you eat. Don't "treat" the breastmilk before freezing it, just use a sterilized container. I use the pump and store bags made by Medela. I like them because you attach them directly to the pump, then ziplock them and put them directly into the fridge or freezer. You handle the milk a minimum number of times.

You mentioned warming up the breastmilk. If you do, DON'T use the microwave. It breaks down the breastmilk and you lose the nutritional value.

Finally...12 weeks seems awfully early for a sippy cup, straw, and cereal. I don't think I even introduced my son to a bottle until he was about 3 1/2 months old. My pedi didn't want him on solid foods until he was 6 months old. She had me introduce the sippy cup at 9 months. (He's now 10 months old.) I'd recommend talking with your Pedi before taking any of these steps. I'd also keep trying the bottle. A couple of suggestions...have you tried a different nipple/bottle? Also, have your husband give the bottle to your daughter. You shouldn't be anywhere near; you may even need to leave the house. (I had to go into the back bedroom and close the door.) If she smells you, she won't want to take the bottle. It will take a bit of trying. Once she's easily taking the bottle from your husband, then you can try giving it to her. Good luck!

Here is a great website that discusses your issue:


I always have loved the smell of breastmilk. It has a sweet smell. Perhaps you did not sterlize the cup enough? I never had a problem storing my milk in the fridge or the freezer. My first daughter didn't mind it one bit. My second daughter however, just would not take any milk from a bottle, sippy, or even the boobie bottle (a bottle that has the shape and feel of a breast). Make sure that you properly sterilize all pumping parts and bottles. Then make sure you follow the rules about how long your milk can be stored. I think it is like 2 or 3 days in the fridge... can't remember... it's been awhile. It shouldn't be a problem to store and should keep just fine. I think that your daughter just prefers the breast! Good luck!

Hello T.. Unfortunately, I don't know what to tell you about your problem, but one thing that piqued my interest was that you warmed up the breast milk. I haven't breastfed in almost 13 years, but I don't remember it being all that warm, and was wondering if maybe you warmed it too much. I think taking the edge off the chill from the fridge is ok, obviously, but I would say don't make it too warm. That's just my opinion. Sorry I couldn't help you, but good luck to you :)

I had this problem with the breast milk that I put in the freezer - after only a short time, it smelled and tasted soapy. The milk that I put in the fridge for a few days and of course the fresh milk was fine - tasted a little sweet, actually. I think babies don't actually notice or mind the soapy taste, but I ended up donating the frozen milk to a milk bank. I only gave my babies the milk that had been in the refrigerator. Some women have more lipase in their milk, which apparently causes the soapiness. To me, it was undrinkable, but I believe it's safe for babies, and if they don't mind the taste, you can give it to them.

Looks like you got good advice already from Maribel K.

Otherwise I would suggest checking out:


There is someone at la leche league with a lot of experience that you can reach on the phone and talk with in depth about breasteeding and breastmilk. They even have weekly meetings at someone's home close to where you live - so you could also talk in person.

Sorry I don't have any more specific answers for you. But the moms from la leche league are very helpful!!

Hi T.! Congrats on your baby girl! I had the same trouble with my breast milk staying fresh......I would pump 2x a day while at work, put it in the fridge for a day or two, then every couple of days I would prepare the fresh stuff for the freezer. (I found that the Lansinoh (SP?) bags worked best.) Also, I wouldn't defrost it until right before my daughter wanted it.....and use only hot tap water to do it. She absoultely prefered the fresh stuff, but as long as I defrosted, warmed and fed it to her immediately, she would take it. I too lived by Kellymom.com - that is the best breastfeeding site! Good luck!

hi, my boy is 13 weeks. im not sure what the chemical is, and every womans milk smells different but in general it smells sweet. what do you store your milk in? i found that he will not take it if just stored in a regular bottle or container. he will however if stored in a bottle liner. and it has to be heated just right. it is much too early for her to be using a sippy cup. they dont have a developed enough sucking reflex, and it could make her really frustrated.good luck.

A 12 week old baby using a sippy cup?? A straw?? What?? She's a baby and she's a preemie too! She really needs your breast. Please just forget any silly (and harmful) advice. Do what's best for your oh-so-sweet baby. Give her your perfect, already naturally warm mama's milk without a middle man. Then you won't need to worry about soapy, chemical or dirt smells (yuck) in your milk. She's also a little young for cereal, especially for a preemie. Give her the breast whenever she's hungry and you'll build up your milk supply. Remember breastfeeding works on supply and demand - the more she drinks, the more you'll make. Try drinking a tall glass of water before you sit down to nurse, it really helps. T., I have a 12 week old too and I'm sure you know breastfeeding is one of the very best things we can do for them! Enjoy her :)

Not sure if this will help or not but when I had my third child 2 years ago, the nurse told me not to wash my breasts or nipples with soap. She didn't really explain to me why, but I am guessing that 1, it would make me taste like soap to the baby and 2, maybe change the taste of the milk as well?? I am not positive, I am just guessing. You could also probably call your doctor or ped and a lactation consultant also to figure out whats going on also. Good luck!!!
~ C. ~

The only thing I can think of that would change the taste of your milk is if the bottle you put the pumped milk into still had soap in it. Depending on what you eat, your milk will change in taste, color, etc. Stick with it. Also, an infant as young as yours will not know how to drink from a straw or sippy cup. They don't have the reflex to do that yet. I would try different bottles first. My son really liked the playtex nurser system. Hang in there and good luck with breastfeeding! It really is the best thing for your daughter.

i would store mine in medela bags and bottles. my DD wouldnt take a bottle either until i started using the medela nipples. i tried my daighter on a sippy at 5 months, but that was still too young. check out kellymom.com for LOTS of breastfeeding/milk/storage what have you info.

Hi my name is M. I have a 7 mo old who was a preemie.she wears 0-3 mos now and getting chunky!She was 1 lb 7 oz!born at 27 weeks. Well since she stood in the NICU for 3 mos i became a pro on breastmilk pumping and storage. i hope i can be of help to you and i hope i can answer your question. i would pump and was told by the nurses that my breastmilk could be stored in the freezer for up to 6 mos. there is nothing that needs to be added just freeze in sterile bags or bottles and once you heat it up you cant refreeze or refrigerate it you have to use it within one hour so its a good idea to freeze small amounts if your baby is not drinking that much. once your babys saliva touches the milk it must be used within one hour or the chemical from the babys mouth will mix with milk or formula and it will go bad. your breastmilk that has not been touched with saliva is good in the refrigerator for 24 hrs. the bags/bottles should be warmed in hot watr rather than microwaved. i hope this helped!!...M....keep up the pumpin it is so worth it!

This happened to me, and my baby absolutely refused to drink the milk. It was not the sippy cup (which is not a terrible thing to try if an infant will not use a bottle- whatever works) or the nipple or the bottle it was the fact that the milk tasted awful. She would scream and cry until my husband would give up both of them exhausted and frustrated. Trust your instincts -it's the milk. THe milk itself is fine but it does have a funky taste and smell. Some baby's do not mind this and some do-like mine. The only thing that worked for us was to heat the milk until tiny little bubbles formed on the surface and then chilled in the in the fridge. After this process, the milk tasted sweet and lasted as long as milk should last. I used the microwave and I too worried about losing valuable nutrients HOWEVER- my baby gained weight and is healthy healthy healthy. (had three colds in all her life and they barely phased her -she is 18 months). The doctor did not worry about it and every time she saw her she marveled at how darn healthy she was. My baby got to have breastmilk while I went back to work and it was a happy ended. The extra step of boiling is a pain but well worth it! Some people used a bottle warmer until just boiling and of course others used the stove but however you get there this works. Good luck.

Here is a link for EXACTLY what you are talking about: The Chemical is called "LIPASE."


It is the EXACT same thing you have observed in your breast milk and the "soapy" smell....

I hope this helps....
after reading the link, try researching it more...

Also, for a 12 week old baby... I think introducing a sippy cup or straw cup is... too soon. Usually, it's not introduced until about 6 months old.

As for bottles... I have had great success with the "MAM" brand... you can find it at Amazon.com My son LOVED it... and it accumulates NO bubbles in the bottle as they drink...

Good luck,

Hi T.,

This happened to me too and I thought it was from the soap I was using to wash my hand pump. I even resterilized everything and that didn't work. I never heard of lipaze before and now know that is what it must have been. I agree with Denise & S.H. and find her links very helpful. I will be scalding my BM the next time around!


Your milk is going to taste and smell different every single time depending on what you eat or have eaten. No joke. But that shouldn't discourage your baby from drinking it since she's been doing it since the get go. Lanisoh (?) makes a perfect breast milk storage bag that should keep your milk tasting "fresh" for up to 3 months in the freezer. When you warm it just take the bag from the freezer, keep it sealed and run it under warm or hot water in the sink. Then pour from bag to bottle and you're good to go. Good luck to you. Congratulations on your little one!

Well, breastmilk has a sweet, distinctive taste and smell. It shouldn't be going bad in fridge or freezer in a few days. The soluction to whether it's bad is simple--taste your fresh milk, then taste it after a day in your fridge. I think the problem is your daughter has become accustomed to "just the breast" and doesn't want the bottle. It's actually pretty common because (no offense at all here) you waited a long time between her first bottle introduction and then trying again. The only solution is to not give up---keep trying. If you're serious about this, it will happen, but you need to introduce the bottle every day or every other day. You might want to try with a little water or watered down juice, as well as your milk. Be prepared for much spitting out, and spend about 5 minutes trying before giving up. Your husband may have better success with this---with you and your "milk" out of the room completely. If she knows you're nearby, she's going to want you. She's a smart baby and knows breast is best!!! :)

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.