How to Properly Store Breast Milk
There are a number of ways you can store breast milk to keep it fresh for your baby. However, breast milk can spoil. Here are some expert pointers to ensure your baby receives the freshest possible milk when you are not around.
|Freshly expressed milk|
|Warm room||80-90°F / 27-32°C||3-4 hours|
|Room temperature||61-79°F / 16-26°C||4-8 hours (ideal: 3-4 hours)|
|Insulated cooler / ice packs||59°F / 15°C||24 hours|
|Refrigerated Milk (Store at back, away from door)|
|Refrigerator (fresh milk)||32-39°F / 0-4°C||3-8 days (ideal: 72 hrs)|
|Refrigerator (thawed milk)||32-39°F / 0-4°C||24 hours|
|Frozen Milk (Do not refreeze! Store at back, away from door/sides)|
|Freezer compartment inside refrigerator (older-style)||Varies||2 weeks|
|Self-contained freezer unit of a refrigerator/freezer||<39°F / <4°C||6 months|
|Separate deep freeze||0°F / -18°C||12 months (ideal: 6 months)|
|These guidelines are for milk expressed for a full-term healthy baby. If baby is seriously ill and/or hospitalized, discuss storage guidelines with baby’s doctor.|
|To avoid waste and for easier thawing & warming, store milk in 1-4 ounce portions. Date milk before storing. Milk from different pumping sessions/days may be combined in one container – use the date of the first milk expressed. Avoid adding warm milk to a container of previously refrigerated or frozen milk – cool the new milk before combining. Breast milk is not spoiled unless it smells really bad or tastes sour.To thaw milk
Previously frozen milk may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours after it has finished thawing. Do not refreeze.
To warm milk
- Heat water in a cup or other small container, then place frozen milk in the water to warm; or
- Use a bottle warmer.
- NEVER microwave human milk or heat it directly on the stove.
The cream will rise to the top of the milk during storage. Gently swirl milk (do not shake) to mix before checking temperature and offering to baby. If baby does not finish milk at one feeding, it is safe to refrigerate and offer within 1-2 hours before it is discarded.