How to Safely Store Breast Milk
Breastfeeding • by Rita Tarnate • Sep 9, 2020 • 1 min read
Breast milk has vitamins, nutrients, and other important properties that aid in your baby’s growth and development, so it’s important to maintain its freshness and quality. All you need is a clean environment and proper storage.
As with cow’s milk, the signs of spoiled breast milk are a foul smell and sour taste. In some cases, frozen breast milk may have an odd smell or soapy taste – don’t worry! This happens when the lipase enzyme breaks down fat to prevent harmful bacteria from growing. As long as the breast milk was properly stored, it’s safe to use. Most babies aren’t bothered by the reaction but if yours is, La Leche League recommends scalding your milk before freezing.
Breast milk storage guidelines are very stringent. Think about how soon you’ll be using expressed milk to know how to best store it. If your baby is ill or in the NICU, consult your pediatrician or hospital as they may have even stricter guidelines.
Discard unfinished bottles within 2 hours of feeding. Used breast milk can be contaminated with bacteria from your baby’s mouth. To reduce waste, consider freezing smaller portions.
Breast milk at room temperature lasts up to 4 hours. This option is best for moms who express milk that’s intended for immediate consumption.
Thawed breast milk cannot be refrozen. Your baby should consume breast milk within 2 hours of it being thawed at room temperature or 24 hours in the fridge.
Refrigerated breast milk is good for up to 4 days. When you have to skip a feeding or you’ve pumped more than what your baby needs, chill the extra breast milk until it’s needed.
Frozen breast milk lasts up to 6 months. Freeze breast milk that can’t be consumed within the 4-day refrigeration period. Unless you’re building a freezer stash, breast milk typically doesn’t need to be frozen.
We created a chart to help you remember the guidelines for keeping your breast milk safe. You can hang it on your fridge and keep a copy in your pump bag. For the travelers, we also included tips for storing breast milk while you’re on-the-go.