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Breast milk: Banked human donor milk

Why is mother's milk the first choice for infant feeding?

Breast milk provides many unique benefits for sick and preterm babies:

  • Promotes infant brain development
  • Protects infant from illness
  • Contains nutrients specific for growth
  • Allows for easy digestion
  • Reduces cost to family

Important steps to give baby the best start

  1. Begin pumping within 4-6 hours after birth.
  2. Pump as often as your baby would breastfeed (8-12 times per day).
  3. Ask for help with pumping and how to obtain an electric breast pump.
  4. Speak to your baby's doctor or nurse about the use of banked milk until your own milk is available.
  5. Plan to provide skin-to-skin care for you and your baby (kangaroo care).

Why consider banked human donor milk?

  • An adequate milk supply is often delayed in mothers due to preterm birth, surgical birth, maternal-infant separation, stress, maternal illness and other factors.
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pasteurized banked donor milk is the safest and best choice until mother's own milk is available.
  • Banked milk is preferred over infant formula.

Is banked donor milk safe?

In addition to providing the benefits of mother's milk, banked human milk is:

  • pasteurized, extensively tested, and then frozen;
  • donated by volunteer mothers who undergo rigorous testing.


Families are an important part of a baby's health care team. At Children's, we want to partner with you in providing your baby the best care possible. Speak with your baby's caregivers to discuss any questions or concerns.

Additional resources

  • Children's lactation consultants
    Minneapolis campus: 612-813-7654
    St. Paul campus: 651-220-7126

Last reviewed by Children's lactation team 8/2016

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit

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