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Breast milk for your own child - now also in day care centres!

09/2014, 28.04.2014

The BfR and the National Breastfeeding Committee have published recommendations on the hygienic handling of pumped breast milk.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the National Breastfeeding Committee have published leaflets on how to handle breast milk to ensure that infants and toddlers can be provided with impeccable breast milk when they are at day care centres or nurseries. “Children should be breastfed as long as the mother and child wish”, says BfR President Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. “For this reason, it is important that both parents and nursing staff know how to handle breast milk in a hygienic manner.” The leaflet for parents provides information on how breast milk should be obtained, stored and transported to the day care centre. Similarly, the leaflet for day care centres and nurseries explains how breast milk is best chilled, warmed and given to children. The need for information in this area has increased, because in Germany more and more children under the age of three are now looked after in day care centres.

When making available breast milk for the use of one’s own child within a day care or nursery setting, some rules must be observed. The milk should be pumped using a completely hygienic breast milk pump. It should then be stored in portion-sized clean baby milk bottles that can be sealed tightly. For storage in the refrigerator or freezer, the temperatures must be below +5 °C or between -18 and -22 °C respectively. These temperatures should be checked every day at the location where the milk is stored. Chilled breast milk can be transported in an easy-to-clean cold bag with several cooling elements. The cold chain must not be interrupted. In the day care centre, it is very important that each child only gets the milk from its mother. For this purpose, the bottles must be marked not only with the date the milk was pumped but also the name of the child. Bottles and all other utensils must be thoroughly washed after each use.

According to statements issued by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, approximately 500,000 children under 3 were looked after in a day care facility or by a person providing day care in Germany in the year 2012. This corresponds to a proportion of 28 % which in the coming years is to be increased further. In the opinion of the National Breastfeeding Committee, neither the child starting day care nor the mother returning to work should be reasons for weaning the child from breast milk. After all, children should continue to be breastfed after they have been started on solid foods (from the beginning of the 5th to the 7th month) for as long as doing so feels comfortable for the child and mother. The leaflets on how to handle breast milk are intended to help increase the overall breastfeeding period in Germany.

The leaflets on handling breast milk can be downloaded from the BfR website at Alternatively, they can be requested from the BfR free of charge: Geschäftsstelle der Nationalen Stillkommission, Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, Max-Dohrn-Str. 8-10, 10589 Berlin, Germany, e-mail:

About the BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.