How Long can you Store Breast Milk?

Breast milk is an antibiotic that can kill several bacteria and viruses. Unlike other types of milk, breast milk can be stored outside of the refrigerator or freezer. Breast milk should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to store it safely.

how long can you store breast milk

You might consider using a breast pump if you’re nursing and returning to work or seeking additional flexibility. Understanding how to properly preserve your extracted milk once you begin pumping is also critical. Take into account these storage recommendations for breast milk.

How Long can you Store Breast Milk?

There are some guidelines for storing breast milk. Milk that has recently been pumped or sucked can be kept: for up to 4 hours at ambient temperature (77°F or lower). For a maximum of four days in the freezer. The best storage period is up to 12 months in the freezer, but six months is recommended.

The general rule is that leftover breast milk is best used within two hours of pumping. After this time, you should discard it. Breast milk should be thrown away if it hasn’t been consumed in two hours since it can have picked up bacteria from your baby’s mouth. This guideline also applies to freshly pumped milk.

Once you have expressed your milk, you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to four days. You should also keep frozen milk in the freezer and use it within 24 hours of its thawing. Milk left unrefrigerated for more than four hours should be discarded, regardless of the type of milk.

Make sure to place it at the back of the fridge, away from the door, because the refrigerator door is always exposed to room temperature. A certified lactation counselor, Kelly A. Hightower, recommends storing breast milk outside the refrigerator, on the counter, or in a jar.

Breast milk must be stored between 39 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The older the pack, the longer the milk will keep. It can be defrosted by running it under warm water for a few minutes or putting it in a kettle of warm water to thaw.

How to Thaw Breast Milk?

Breast milk is best stowed within the first 24 hours of delivery. If a baby is due within that timeframe, you can use the thawed milk within 24 hours. Once thawed, it can be used immediately after warming. Keeping the milk chilled is important because it keeps it fresh and prevents bacteria from growing.

Remember, however, that it is harmful to refreeze breast milk, and you should never heat it in a microwave. Overheating can be harmful to the baby and can destroy the immune properties and enzymes in the milk. To preserve the freshness of breast milk, you should freeze it in small, 2-4 ounce portions. This way, you won’t have to worry about wasting milk and avoiding waste.

To minimize waste, store breast milk in smaller, freezer-safe containers, one per feeding. When freezing, use containers that can expand to accommodate the milk. It would help if you also labeled the containers with the name and date of collection. It’s a good idea to discuss storage guidelines with your healthcare provider or childcare provider.

Can Newborns Take Cold Breast Milk?

You can give your infant cold milk without worrying. Infants who are teething may find comfort in using frozen breast milk. Scientists have established that milk’s nutritional value is unaffected by temperature. Therefore babies can consume cold milk. Utilizing the proper proportion of water and formula and carefully conserving breast milk is more crucial (breastfed babies).

You can give your infant cool or even cold formula without any problems. Your kid may enjoy it warm, at room temperature, or even chilly, and all of those alternatives are acceptable. It all depends on what they want. Some parents prefer the warm formula because it is closest in temperature to breast milk.

How to Keep it Clean?

Keeping breast milk clean is an important part of pumping for your baby. During feeding times, pumping helps your baby continue producing milk. To keep your breast milk clean, wash your hands thoroughly, and if you use a hand sanitizer, choose one that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Please keep the area surrounding your pump, parts, and bottles clean. While you don’t need to wash your breasts before pumping, you should wash your hands after using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. You should also wash pump parts thoroughly after each breastfeeding session.

The CDC recommends gold-standard cleaning using a dedicated basin or dishwasher. This will ensure that your milk remains free of contaminants, and the CDC also recommends using fragrance-free dish soap. To keep the bottles clean, use fragrance-free soap. Following these tips will ensure that your milk stays clean for longer and is safe for your baby.

How to Tell if it’s Bad?

A mother’s breast milk contains several components that indicate it is going bad. These components include immune components, enzymes, and nutrients. Breast milk can become sour when these components are not functioning properly.

This can occur due to improper storage and handling of breast milk. Some parents report that breast milk has a soapy or metallic taste. Understanding why these changes occur can help parents recognize the signs of bad milk.

A simple way to determine if breast milk is spoiled is to compare the date. The date should be close to the day you pumped the milk. If you do not write the date, it is safe to eat or drink it.

Check the storage and pumping dates to determine if the milk is bad or spoiled. This information will help you store breast milk correctly. This will prevent you from throwing out good breast milk.

Which Containers are Appropriate for Storing Breast Milk?

Breast milk that has been expressed can be kept in various containers. When choosing your container, it’s crucial to consider the storage location (fridge or freezer) and duration (length of time).

To prevent milk wastage, breast milk should be kept in the following containers in modest quantities (2 to 4 ounces). Glass containers are the best choice for freezing milk because they keep the milk’s constituent parts better than other materials. Glass, though, might break, so it might not be as practical as some other materials.

Storage of breast milk must be done in crystal-clear plastic containers. Additionally, some daycare facilities might not allow glass containers. In many cases, containers made of hard-sided clear plastic serve as a good substitute for glass. Exclusively made for storing breast milk in freezers: Additional options for storing breast milk include storage containers.

Investing in freezer bags made exclusively for extracted breast milk is crucial. The likelihood of leakage is highest for this storage option out of the three. Additionally, if the water level in the bag rises above the seal at the bottom of the bag while it is being warmed in water, your milk may get contaminated. 

How Long can Breast Milk be Left at Room Temperature?

Based on how warm the environment is, you may be able to leave breast milk out for a different amount of time. Breast milk should be utilized within four hours of being expressed if the room temperature is 77 degrees F or lower, but if it is done hygienically, it may be okay to keep it for up to eight hours. You can utilize it again within two hours without cooling it if your baby doesn’t consume the entire quantity in one feeding.

How to Freeze Breast Milk?

If you are freezing breast milk, how long can you store it? This depends on your storage method, the temperature, and the amount of exposure it gets. Fresh breast milk has a higher caloric and lipid content than frozen milk.

If you plan to store breast milk for several weeks, it is best to pump it as soon as possible. It would be best if you always sterilized the pump before storing the milk. The answer depends on whether the milk is frozen for later use or is already consumed.

Breast milk requires some room to expand and can be cooled for up to 12 months. The shelf life may differ from six to nine months, depending on the milk type. If you plan to freeze it for a long time, use food-grade plastic or glass containers. Make sure the lids fit tightly.


Normally, you can safely store breast milk for up to four hours in the refrigerator or for up to eight hours at room temperature. To ensure safe storage, it is recommended that you pump your breast milk in a sanitary manner and store it at a temperature that is between 77 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once you have pumped breast milk, you should place the bottles in a cool place like the refrigerator or freezer. Alternatively, refrigerate the milk in a cooler bag and use it within two hours. Keep an ice pack on the milk container at all times.

If you keep the milk in a refrigerator, you should ensure it is in the freezer’s back, preferably in the center. If you do not have a fridge, you can store it in the freezer. If you want to use breast milk after two weeks, it is advisable to refrigerate it as soon as possible.