Storing breast milk safely is very important to the health of your baby.
To safely store breast milk, you should follow several practices, including:
- Label and date the container. It is very important that you do not feed outdated breast milk to your baby. You may want to store breast milk in two to four ounce amounts to reduce waste.
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize storage containers. Whether you choose glass or plastic containers, they should be cleaned and sterilized. Your lactation consultant can provide information on the advantages and disadvantages of each type of container and help you decide what is best for you. Special breast milk storage bags are also available.
- Never microwave or boil breast milk. Microwaving could cause hot spots in the milk due to uneven heating and could burn your baby's mouth or throat. Overheating the milk can alter its protein makeup and antibody composition. To warm or thaw milk, run it under warm tap water or place it in a bowl of warm water. Because breast milk separates when stored, you should roll the bottle gently between your hands before serving to evenly distribute the thawed breast milk.
Recommendations for storing breast milk in the refrigerator include:
- Store for five days in the back of the refrigerator at 39° F or lower
- Do not store in the door of the refrigerator.
- Thawed breast milk that is unopened and unused can be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Freshly pumped breast milk should be chilled in the refrigerator before adding to frozen or refrigerated breast milk.
- Store for up to 24 hours in a cooler or ice chest, providing that the ice chest has frozen packs in contact with breast milk and the temperature remains at 5-39° F or lower. Limit opening cooler.
Recommendations for storing breast milk in the freezer include:
- Store for six to 12 months in a chest or upright freezer at 0-4° F.
- Store for three to six months in a freezer compartment of a refrigerator with separate doors at 0° F. Do not store in the door of the freezer.
- Store up to two weeks in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator (one door) at 5° F.
- Store for up to 24 hours in a cooler or ice chest, providing that the ice chest has frozen packs in contact with breast milk and the temperature remains at 59° F or lower.
- Do not refreeze breast milk after it has thawed.
- Freeze within 24 hours of pumping.