How To Store Breastmilk Safely

How To Store Breastmilk Safely

How To Store Breastmilk Safely

Whether you are preparing to return to work, or need to be away from your baby at times, storing breastmilk to use later on is a great and convenient way your baby can continue to get the benefits of mother’s milk.

The best method of storage will depend on how soon you want to use the milk. Freezing destroys several substances in your breastmilk that helps your baby fight infections, so if you plan to use it within a few days, opt to refrigerate your milk. Still, frozen breastmilk is beneficial and a better option than formula.

Find out how to store breastmilk safely with the guidelines below:

Collecting and Storing Breastmilk

  1. Always start by washing your hands before expressing and handling milk for storage as this will reduce the likelihood of any bacteria growth. Also make sure to keep your breast pump clean by washing parts in hot, soapy water, and rinsing them thoroughly before sterilizing.

  2. Choose plastic bottles or plastic disposable bags designed specifically for storing breastmilk as glass may crack or chip. Sterilize containers before use.

  3. Prior to placing collected milk into the fridge or freezer, make sure any bottles or bags are sealed tightly and labelled with dates to help you keep track of your supply. Use the oldest milk first.

              Breastmilk Storage Guidelines

              Room Temperature

              4 to 6 hours at 66 to 78°F

              Cooler with Ice Packs

              24 hours at 59°F


              3 to 8 days at 39°F


              6 to 12 months at 0 to 4°F


              Warming and Defrosting Breastmilk

              To defrost breastmilk, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or for a quicker method, hold the container under warm running water. To bring it back to body temperature, place the bottle or bag in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes, or use an electric milk warmer. 

              Do not refreeze thawed breastmilk, and make sure to use it within 24 hours after defrosting.


              Tips For Collecting and Storing Milk

              Start pumping and storing milk before returning to work, so you have a supply of fresh milk for feeding the next working day. Save frozen milk for emergencies.

              When pumping and collecting milk throughout the day, you can continue to add small amounts of cooled breastmilk to the same refrigerated container. But avoid adding warm milk to already cooled milk.


              Breastmilk Odor or Taste Changes

              A change in breastmilk odor or taste can occur during storage, when the milk is exposed to light, or cold temperatures. Some mother’s produce a breastmilk enzyme called lipase which, when thawed, gives off an unpleasant smell. Most infants will not be affected and still accept the milk. However, in some cases they may develop taste preferences and refuse to drink it.

              To eliminate lipase-induced milk, scald fresh milk before freezing by heating it in a pot until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan (approximately 180°F), then remove it from the heat and quickly chill before freezing. Once milk is frozen, scalding milk will no longer work to eliminate odor or taste changes. Whenever possible, feed your baby fresh breastmilk as scalding also reduces some beneficial components.

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