Learn how to store freshly expressed breast milk and for how long.

The following storage guidelines are suitable for healthy term babies. If your baby is premature or hospitalized, storage guidelines may be vary. Please consult with your baby's doctor.

Containers for Storing Breast Milk

  • Use glass or hard plastic containers (BPA-free) with a tight lid.
  • Special breast milk freezer bags can also be used.
  • Do not use bottle liner bags. These are thinner plastic bags made only for bottle feeding, not freezing breast milk.

Cleaning the Containers

  • Wash the containers in hot soapy water and rinse well with hot water.
  • Let bottles, nipples and containers air dry.

Tips for Storing Breast Milk

  • Be sure everything that touches the breast milk is clean.
  • Store in 2-4 ounce portions to prevent wasting milk.
  • Leave a 1-inch (2.5 cm) space at the top of the container when freezing.
  • Do not refreeze breast milk once it is thawed
  • Date each container, and use the oldest first.

Thawing Frozen Breast Milk

  • Check the date on the stored breast milk. Use the container with the earliest date first.
  • Warm frozen breast milk by leaving it in the fridge for 4 hours, or place the container under cool running water. Once it has begun to thaw, put it under running warm water to finish thawing.
  • Never thaw breast milk at room temperature.
  • Warm breast milk by placing the container in a bowl of very warm water.
  • Never warm a bottle in a microwave; it can heat unevenly and seriously burn baby's mouth.
  • It's normal for breast milk to separate when refrigerated, just as cream rises to the top of fresh milk. This is not a sign that it has gone bad, it is simply a natural separation process. Gently shake it for an even consistency.
  • Thawed milk may also taste or smell different from fresh, but it is still good.
  • Discard of any remaining breast milk left in the bottle after each feeding.

Storing Breast Milk

How it's stored Temperature How long it will last Helpful hint
Room temperature 25 °C 4-6 hours Keep away from direct sunlight.
Insulated cooler bag with ice packs 15 °C 24 hours Keep ice packs in contact with the milk at all times, and try to limit opening the bag.
Refrigerator 4 °C Best to use it within 2 days, but it's safe for up to 8 days Store milk in the back of the refrigerator, where it's coolest.
Freezer compartment that's part of the fridge -15 °C 2 weeks Make sure the freezer temperature is consistent.
Freezer compartment with a separate door -18 °C 3-6 months Store milk in the back of the freezer, where it's coldest.
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