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Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

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Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

By Anhoni Patel
Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

FREE PRINTABLE BREAST MILK STORAGE GUIDELINES
Click here to download the Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
(PDF)
After download, print and cut out our free Breastmilk Storage Guidelines.
Tape it on your refrigerator or keep a copy of it in your pump bag for quick reference!

Like any fresh food, pumped breast milk needs to be stored properly or it can spoil. And the last thing a pumping mother wants to do is throw out precious liquid gold. Or, even worse, sicken her child with milk which has gone bad.

Here are some guidelines to keep your pumped milk safe for baby.

ROOM TEMPERATURE: You can leave freshly expressed breast milk out at room temperature for up to 4 hours. (66° - 78° Fahrenheit)

  • Don’t store in direct sunlight or right next to something that may be warm (toaster, kettle, etc.). Be mindful of the room temperature as it can vary with the season and location. If it is 90-degree summer weather in a room with no cooling source, that room’s temperature is too warm for the milk to stay out for 4 hours!

REFRIGERATOR: Up to 4 days (make sure your refrigerator is set to 38° Fahrenheit or lower).

  • Within this time, use the breast milk, transfer to the freezer or discard after 4 days.
  • It’s best to store the breast milk towards the back of the refrigerator and in the middle, especially if the refrigerator is frequently opened. Store away from refrigerator’s light bulb.

FREEZER: 6-8 months (with the freezer set between 0°- 4° Fahrenheit).

  • Note: there is a difference between an enclosed freezer unit - one where the freezer is a seperate section from the refrigerator with its own door - and one in which the freezer is built into the refrigerator, for example, a mini fridge. In cases of built-in freezers, breast milk is best kept for only 2 weeks as the milk cannot be kept at proper freezing temperatures.

DEEP FREEZER: 8-12 months (with the deep freezer set between 0° to -5° Fahrenheit)

  • Also called chest freezers. They offer more insulation and, depending on your settings, cooler temperatures than a regular freezer.
  • Most moms don’t need separate deep freezers. But if you are an exclusively pumping mother, or an active milk donor, these may be helpful.

COOLER: 24 hours (with at least 3 ice packs; kept at approx. 59° Fahrenheit)

  • Good option for work and for traveling
  • Hard-sided coolers with keep your milk cooler than soft-sided insulated cooler bags
  • Make sure it is properly insulated and the ice packs are COLD
  • The more you open and close the cooler the warmer it becomes

PRO-TIPS:

  • THAWING MILK: You can transfer frozen milk to the refrigerator (it can take up to 24hrs to fully defrost). You can also either run the milk storage bags or bottles under warm water or place the bag/bottle in a mug of hot water. Do not use boiling water; it can melt the bags/bottle and affect the quality of the breast milk. Also - DO NOT MICROWAVE BREAST MILK. It can both break down the bags/bottles, unevenly heat the milk and affect the nutrients of the milk.
  • Once frozen breast milk is thawed, you must use it within 24 hours or discard it. DO NOT REFREEZE.
  • Freeze only the amount your child drinks in the breast milk storage bags or freezer-safe bottles. If your baby drinks 3oz, store 3oz. If your child drinks 5oz, store 5oz worth of milk. This way you only defrost what you need.
  • Most bottles are safe for both refrigerator and freezer storage.
  • Some popular breastmilk storage bags include:
    Medela Pump and Save Breast Milk Bags
    Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags
    Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Pouches



9 Responses

Danielle
Danielle

May 16, 2019

These are such great tips. I’ve had friends say they wouldn’t freeze their milk because it smelled weird. I never ever had that experience and I couldn’t imagine throwing away “the liquid gold”. Lol

Nadine
Nadine

May 16, 2019

This is super helpful – did all of this with my first born and plan on following these guidelines w/ number 2 due in August!

Crystal
Crystal

May 16, 2019

Great Reminder for new Dads and Moms

Emilee Lloyd
Emilee Lloyd

May 16, 2019

Good to know! Cause the breast milk bags aren’t always specific!

ShanTiasia Williams
ShanTiasia Williams

May 16, 2019

These guideline are so helpful as a reminder for us breastfeeding mommas!!

Astin
Astin

May 16, 2019

This is perfect information I was looking for now I am stocking up for my little one

Nancy
Nancy

May 16, 2019

Very helpful

Tiana Adawag
Tiana Adawag

May 16, 2019

Thanks for your blog post, I am now more knowledgeable.

Sidney Kinser
Sidney Kinser

May 16, 2019

Thank you for the information! It really helped a lot!!

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