How Long Will Breast Milk Keep? Tips for Storing & Freezing Breast Milk

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How Long Will Breast Milk Keep? This is a common question moms have. Check out some tips for Storing & Freezing Breast Milk.
How Long Will Breast Milk Keep? This is a common question moms have. Check out some tips for Storing & Freezing Breast Milk.

Tips for Storing & Freezing Breast Milk

If you breastfeed you know how important it is to protect your breast milk supply, as you work hard for every drop! I have curated a list of tips for storing breast milk, to help you out! Plus I share how long your breast milk will keep, so you are providing your baby with safe and fresh milk! These tips will come in handy if you have to take your child to a daycare because you are away from them during the day.

You can work on building a milk supply, which is a great thing to do. You never know if an issue will arise and you can’t breastfeed. Some moms choose to store their milk in the fridge instead of tossing it in the freezer. This is also great to have on hand on days you might be away from your baby, to ensure they have enough milk for that time period!

Under most conditions, breast milk stays fresh at room temperature (60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit) for three to four hours. But expressed milk that has little bacteria can last for six to eight hours if room temperature remains on the cooler side. How about storing it?

How long will breast milk keep?

Refrigerating Breast Milk and Freezing

  • If you refrigerate your breast milk, it will last three to five days in the fridge. Make sure to use the oldest milk first, to keep a good rotation. Label the containers or bags, so you for sure know when it was put in the fridge.
  • If you freeze your milk, it can last up to 12 months. Freezing in a side by side (refrigerator/freezer combo) it can stay fresh for 3 to 6 months. Using a deep freezer or check, it will stay good for 6 to 12 months. A deep freezer or chest last longer because you generally don’t open it as frequent as you would the one attached to your refrigerator.

One tip is before you go to pump, make sure your hands are nice and clean, as well as your pumping machine, storage bags, and any other items you will be using. You want to ensure your milk is as fresh as possible. Make sure to label your container or bag with the date and time the milk was expressed. That way you can keep it in order, and use the oldest milk first.

Tips for Freezing Breast Milk

Freeze in Small Batches

I always like to store milk in 2-4 ounces, to help prevent any not getting used at a feeding. Breast milk can go bad within 2 hours of a feeding. If you baby generally drinks 4 ounces at a time, aim for that. Just try not to store to much in your bags or containers or it will end up getting wasted.

Freeze Milk Within 24 Hours of Pumping

Make sure to freeze your breast milk within 24 hours of pumping, if you will not be using it right away. Remember it will expand as it freezes, so don’t fill your container all the way to the top.

Place On Shelf Not In Door of Freezer

If you are placing your breast milk in the freezer, make sure to place it as far back in the freezer as possible on a shelf. Items that are in the door, are not as cold as what is on the shelves. You want to make sure your milk is nice and froze, so put on a shelf if possible!

Oldest to the Front

Keep your breast milk in order by it’s dates! Place the oldest milk to the front so it gets used first. This will help you reduce any waste of having to toss out your milk because it has gone bad!

Thawing Breast Milk

You can do this a few different ways. You can place the milk in the refrigerator overnight and allow it to thaw slowly. Or if you are in a bind and need some quick, running warm water over it will help it thaw quicker.

How Long Once Thawed Is It Good For

Once your breast milk has thawed, you can store it in the fridge for 24 hours. It has to be fully used up, or it needs to be tossed out.

You can find a great selection of Lactation cookies here.*

Looking for a good Lactation Cookie recipe? Check out this delicious cookie recipe that will help increase your milk supply.

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  • Reply Julie A Beveridge

    Awesome tips!! Everyone needs to know these things if they are saving milk.

    December 28, 2017 at 8:21 pm
  • Reply Anna Mitchell

    Oh wow good to know. I thought that it only lasted 24 hours in the fridge.

    November 3, 2017 at 11:05 pm
  • Reply Calvin F.

    Very good crucial tips.

    June 30, 2017 at 2:27 pm
  • Reply M Hobson

    Thanks for the reminder on the dos and donts. Last time I pumped was when I went back to work and everything got used the next day.

    June 25, 2017 at 9:00 pm
  • Reply Amber Ludwig

    All such important info!! I remember I had a placard on my fridge I looked at constantly for reference!! Also, I always go by the rule that if it smells off or sour, toss it!! Better to be safe than sorry!

    June 23, 2017 at 9:46 am
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