Breastmilk Storage Guidelines

By Maureen Mills RN, IBCLC,  Board Certified Lactation Consultant
You’ve worked so hard pumping breast milk so it is important to make sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste (and that you store it properly).  Here are some tips and tricks for proper storage.  Use any clean container:  plastic, glass or nurser bags.  You can store your breast milk in so many ways – choose depending on when you plan to use the milk

  • Room Temperature for up to 5-6 hours
  • In a cool box with ice packs for up to 24 hours
  • In a refrigerator for up to 5 days (make sure to store it in the back of the fridge where it’s the coldest and away from food)
  • Home freezer for up to 6 months in the coldest part of your freezer away from other food (if your freezer is cold enough to keep ice cream solid then the temperature is perfect)

Layering Breast Milk

  • You can add “new” milk to previously chilled or frozen milk. Chill the “new” milk before adding it to the container of milk.  The expiration of the milk will now be when the original milk was expressed.
  • You can add fresh milk to previously frozen milk as long as the fresh milk is chilled for an hour.

Thawing Frozen Milk

  • Breastmilk can be thawed in lukewarm water in a few minutes. It can be warmed to serving temperature after thawing it but never make it warmer than room temperature.
  • Throw away any milk left in a bottle after a feeding – don’t put it back in the fridge or re freeze it
  • You may notice that the milk separates if it’s been frozen for a while – don’t worry. Give it a gentle shake after thawing it.
  • You can freeze small amounts in a covered ice cube tray. Smaller quantities defrost quickly and are perfect to add some breastmilk to mix with food when your baby is eating solid foods.
  • Never microwave breast milk and Never refreeze breast milk once it’s thawed.

For questions about pumping and a step to step guide to how to begin pumping and storing breast milk for the first time, view our blog post on Pumping for the First Time
If you are ever have questions, please don’t hesitate to call our office to talk to Maureen Mills, RN, IBCLC our Board Certified Lactation Consultant or schedule an appointment with her for feeding help/  Call 301-279-6750 or visit our lactation services page to view all of the newborn breastfeeding resources that we have to offer.
Please join us for our Newborn Support Group run by Maureen Mills!