Information on Handling &

Storing Breastmilk


You may have extra milk you would like to keep for emergencies, for when you will be away from your baby or so others may feed the baby occasionally. Proper handling and storage of your breast milk assures the highest quality and safety for your baby.

Storing breastmilk:

1. Always wash your hands before pumping or handling your breast milk.

2. Store your expressed breast milk in:

  • Clean glass or plastic bottles with caps.
  • Disposable plastic bottle liners (Gerber, Playtex, Avent). Double bag as the seams may split during freezing; or put several individual bags into a larger ziploc type bag to avoid getting knocked around in the freezer or sticking to freezer shelves.
  • Plastic freezer bags made especially for freezing human milk. These have heavier plastic and thicker seams for better protection.

Leave some room at the top for expansion.

3. Label each container of breast milk with the date and time. Use the oldest first.

4. Breast milk is not nearly as fragile as we tend to expect. There are living cells in freshly expressed milk which actually help keep the bacteria count down. Freshly expressed breast milk may be stored:

  • at room temperature for 6-10 hours;
  • in the refrigerator 3-5 days;
  • in a separate-door refrigerator/freezer for 3 months
  • in a chest or upright freezer for 6 months.

But please read on...

You will see varying recommendations for how long to store your milk. The length of time your milk will stay "good" depends on how clean the conditions were when it was expressed and how it has been stored. The more constant the temperature, the better. For instance, do not store milk in the door of your freezer because opening and closing the door causes thawing and refreezing. Likewise, storing the milk in your car on a hot day is not room temperature.

5. Chilled, fresh breast milk can be added to frozen milk in small quantities so long as thawing does not occur.

6. Freeze batches of 2-4 ounces; freezing large amounts can result in wasting unused milk once it is thawed. Your baby may increase the amount of milk he needs as he gets older, but not as much as you might think. From about 2 weeks of age on, most moms make 25-35 ounces of milk every 24 hours. This level lasts even up to the 6 month mark when babies begin adding supplemental foods to their diet. As your baby goes longer between feeds, then the amount of milk in each feed will go up. But the total for 24 hours doesn't change that much.

Thawing milk:

1. During freezing the layers of the milk separate. After thawing, gently shake it to distribute the separated cream layer.

2. Thaw in the refrigerator several hours or overnight (no more than 24 hours before use).

3. Thaw more quickly under warm running water or in a bowl of warm water (while you change your baby, for instance).

4. Do not overheat or scald your breast milk. When it is warmed to greater than body temperature, nutritional value and immunities are decreased.

5. Avoid thawing at room temperature.

6. Do not warm your breast milk in the microwave. The microwave can cause uneven heating and hot spots which could burn your baby; and some of the healthful components of the milk are destroyed in microwaving.

7. Be careful when using steam or boiling water based bottle warmers. They can cause hot spots similar to a microwave or warm milk to greater than body temperature. If you want the convenience of a bottle warmer, consider one made specifically for warming breastmilk.

8. Do not refreeze breast milk that has been thawed. Thawed breast milk spoils rapidly and should be discarded after 24 hours if not used.


© COPYRIGHT 2012, Bosom Buddies, Inc. Lone Tree, CO 80124