As a breastfeeding mom, finding out that your baby has been given the wrong breast milk bottle can be incredibly upsetting. Try your best to stay calm. In all likelihood, your baby will be fine. According to the CDC, few illnesses are transmitted through breast milk. However, it is important to take necessary steps to ensure your baby’s health and well-being. Here’s what you should do if daycare gave your baby the wrong breast milk bottle.
What Happens if Baby Gets the Wrong Breast Milk?
Let’s first discuss what happens if a baby drinks another mother’s milk. In general, it’s not harmful and does not constitute a medical emergency. However, there are some potential risks and considerations to keep in mind. The baby may have an allergic reaction or intolerance to the milk, particularly if the other mom has a different diet or has consumed something that the baby is sensitive to. This can cause symptoms such as fussiness, diarrhea, or vomiting.
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Secondly, there is a theoretical risk of transmitting infections or diseases through breast milk although the risk of transmission is typically low. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these diseases include:
- HIV: Breastfeeding by an HIV-positive mother can transmit the virus to the infant through breast milk.
- Hepatitis B: Infants can be vaccinated against hepatitis B, but there is still a risk of transmission through breast milk.
- CMV (Cytomegalovirus): CMV is a common virus that can be transmitted to the infant through breast milk. Most healthy infants are able to fight off the virus, but it can be dangerous for premature babies or those with weakened immune systems.
- Herpes simplex virus: If a mom has active herpes lesions on her breasts or nipples, she can transmit the virus to a baby through breast milk.
- Zika virus: There have been reports of Zika virus being transmitted through breast milk, although the risk appears to be low.
It bears repeating that the risk of disease transmission through breast milk is low. But it is important to be armed with this knowledge as you move through the next steps.
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Confirm Daycare Gave Baby the Wrong Bottle of Breast Milk
Before taking any action, it’s pivotal you verify that the daycare gave the wrong bottle of breast milk to your baby. How you determine this will be specific to your daycare situation.
- Does your daycare have cameras that allow you to watch your baby’s classroom?
- Did you notice the mistake yourself?
- Did the daycare alert you of the mistake?
- Did another daycare mom tell you of this happening?
- Did your baby come home with a bottle of unused milk by mistake?
You will need to be certain this occurred before taking any actions against the daycare.
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Assess Your Baby’s Condition if Given the Wrong Bottle of Breast Milk
If your baby has ingested the wrong breast milk, it’s important to assess their condition. The daycare likely did this when they realized the mistake. Look for any signs of discomfort or distress, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or a fever. This is especially necessary if your baby has any dietary sensitivities or intolerance that he/she may have been exposed to from another mother’s breast milk. If your baby is showing any of these symptoms, contact your pediatrician right away. Even if your baby isn’t in discomfort, notify your pediatrician. They will advise you on monitoring your baby and will provide instructions on what to look for over the next few days.
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Talk to the Daycare Staff if They Gave Baby the Wrong Bottle of Breast Milk
Once you have verified that daycare gave the wrong breast milk to your baby, speak with the daycare director. If the director isn’t already aware of the situation, explain what you know and ask them to provide you with a detailed account of what happened. This information will be helpful if you need to file a complaint or take legal action.
Make sure to find out the name of the other mother whose breast milk was given to your baby. The daycare should take care of alerting the mother, finding out her health status (medications, illnesses, diary/soy/wheat/egg consumption if your baby has a dietary intolerance, alcohol consumption, cracked nipples while pumping, etc.), and sharing that information with you. Ask your pediatrician if any additional information should be collected from the other mother.
Request an Incident Report If Daycare Gave Baby Wrong Bottle of Breast Milk
Ask the daycare staff to provide you with a written report of the incident, including the date and time it occurred, the name of the staff member who gave your baby the wrong bottle, and any other relevant details. If the daycare staff do not provide an adequate report, follow up with the daycare director via email explaining the situation. Ask that the daycare director provide you with information you need, in addition to a mitigation plan in writing. This report will be necessary if you need to file a complaint with the daycare center or your state’s licensing agency.
Ask if the daycare has a protocol on how to handle a situation where their workers gave the wrong breast milk to a baby. If they do have policies in place, ask if the teachers in the infant room are aware of these policies. Education may need to take place. If no policies exist, consider moving your baby to a new daycare facility.
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Contact Your State’s Licensing Agency
If you are concerned about the daycare’s handling of the situation, you can contact the licensing agency that oversees the daycare center. They can provide guidance on what steps you can take and may conduct an investigation if necessary. In most U.S. states, the Department of Children & Family Services (or its equivalent) is the agency you will need to contact.
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Consider Legal Action
If your baby has suffered any harm as a result of the daycare giving them the wrong breast milk bottle, you may want to consider taking legal action. You may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the daycare. Consult with an attorney who specializes in daycare negligence or personal injury law to discuss your options.
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Take Steps to Prevent Daycare From Giving Baby Wrong Breast Milk
Do what you can to take steps to prevent this from happening again in the future. Make sure that the daycare staff is aware of the mistake and remind them of the importance of double-checking the bottles. Make sure the daycare has protocols in place on what to do if the daycare gave the wrong breast milk to a baby, and that the infant room staff regularly receives trainings or reminders of these protocols.
Check to ensure your bottle labels are legible. Use waterproof labels such as these available on Amazon. Lots of our moms use Name Bubbles to label their bottles. If another child uses similar bottles to your baby’s, consider using Inchbug labels in addition to whatever labeling your daycare requires.
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Finding out that your baby has been given the wrong breast milk bottle can be an incredibly stressful experience. In all likelihood, your baby will be fine. The risk of transmission of infectious diseases is small. But for your baby’s health, your peace of mind, and for daycare quality improvement, consider taking the above steps to prevent this from happening again.
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