How Long does Breast Milk Last Out the Fridge?

Breast milk is like liquid gold, as mothers who pump or manually express milk for their infants are aware. Getting that milk for your child takes a lot of time and effort. Nobody wants to waste even a single drop.

What occurs then if a bottle of breast milk is left on the counter? How long before breast milk is no longer suitable for your baby?

Here’s all you need to know about how to keep breast milk fresh, how to freeze it, and when to throw it away.

Breast Milk

How Long does Breast Milk Last Out of the Fridge?

Breast milk that has just been expressed can stay at 77°F (25°C) room temperature for up to four hours. The milk should ideally be kept in a covered container. Fresh milk can be stored in the fridge for up to four days at 40°F (4°C). It will stay in the freezer for six to twelve months at 0°F (-18°C).

Use milk that has been refrigerated after it has been thawed within 24 hours. Once thawed, milk previously frozen can spend one to two hours outside at room temperature. Refreezing previously frozen breast milk is not advised.

After expressing it, you must keep breast milk by hand or pump. Use a clean, capped glass or hard plastic container without BPA, and always start with clean hands.

Some manufacturers produce special plastic bags to collect and store breast milk. Due to the possibility of contamination, you should refrain from using disposable bottle liners or household plastic bags.

Your chosen storage method will affect how long expressed breast milk can be stored without risk. Proper storage is essential to maintain both the nutritional value and the anti-infection characteristics.

The best scenario is to chill or refrigerate breast milk after it is expressed quickly.

After two hours, discard the milk if the infant didn’t drink the bottle.

These recommendations are for healthy, full-term infants. If you are pumping milk and your infant has medical issues, is in the hospital, or was delivered prematurely, you should consult your doctor.

What are the Issues with Storing Breast Milk for too Long?

Milk kept in the refrigerator or freezer for longer lengths of time than those listed above loses more vitamin C. Be aware that breast milk is adapted to a mother’s baby’s demands. In other words, as your child grows, your breast milk adapts.

You might ask if breast milk used for one feeding can be utilized for another if left out. Guidelines for milk storage state that leftover breast milk should be thrown away after two hours due to the possibility of bacterial contamination from your baby’s mouth.

Remember that whether or not it has been used for feeding, freshly pumped milk that has been out of the refrigerator for more than four hours needs to be thrown away. Once thawed and refrigerated, previously frozen milk should be consumed within 24 hours. After two hours on the counter, discard.

How to Properly Store Expressed Milk?

Use these recommendations while storing expressed milk:

If you plan to store expressed milk at your baby’s daycare, use waterproof labels and ink containing your baby’s full name. Clear labels that display the date the milk was collected help you keep track of your breast milk storage.

Keep expressed milk in the freezer or back of the refrigerator. The coldest temperatures are consistently found there. You can use an insulated cooler if you can’t immediately put extracted milk in the refrigerator or freezer.

Keep expressed milk in smaller-sized containers or packets. Breast milk expands while frozen, and freezing it will also lessen the amount of breast milk wasted after a feeding.

However, make sure it’s from the same day. You can add freshly expressed milk to breast milk that has been frozen or refrigerated.

Before combining it with the previously refrigerated or frozen milk, cool the fresh milk (you may do this by placing it in the refrigerator or a cooler with ice packs).

Frozen milk may melt when warm breast milk is added. This may cause milk components to break down, resulting in a greater loss of antibacterial capabilities. The majority of specialists advise against refreezing thawed milk.

What is the Correct Method to Thaw Breast Milk?

First, defrost the oldest milk. The night before you want to use it put the frozen container in the fridge. The milk can also be gradually warmed in a bowl of warm water or under warm running water.

The milk may have some hot and some cold spots. Moreover, some studies indicate that the milk’s antibodies may be impacted by quick heating. Never microwave or fast heat a frozen bottle on the stove.

If previously frozen milk that has been thawed can be securely re-frozen, more research is required. However, many specialists advise getting rid of thawed milk that isn’t used in 24 hours.

What are the Health Benefits of Breast Milk for a Baby?

Some of the benefits of nursing for your infant may be familiar. These are a few of those explanations.

Healthy Food Sources

The nutrients in breast milk are more readily absorbed and utilized by your infant than those in the formula. These include protein and sugar (carbohydrates).

The best nutrients for your baby’s brain development and nervous system development are found in breast milk. Studies on breastfed infants have shown that they do better on intellectual exams as they age.

The vision of a breastfed baby is also improved. This is primarily due to specific types of fat found in breastfeeding.

Infection Prevention

Numerous anti-disease agents are present in breast milk. They aid in avoiding hospitalization and minor to severe infections.

Breastfed babies experience much fewer ear, lung, and stomach infections.

Additionally, early (premature) babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing the deadly intestinal infection NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis).

If your infant contracts an infection while being breastfed, it will probably be less severe.

Avoiding Additional Conditions

Babies that are breastfed are better protected from several significant health issues. And as they age, it continues to provide protection. A baby that is breastfed has:

Breastfed infants have a lower risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) than those who are not.

A decreased chance of developing asthma and skin issues brought on by allergies. Milk allergies are more common in formula-fed infants.

Less diarrhea and a lesser likelihood of developing certain digestive disorders. The bacteria aid in digestion and illness prevention. The Formula can alter the good bacteria in a baby’s intestines.

A Decreased Possibility of Getting Leukemia

Fewer chronic health issues as people get older. Diabetes and obesity are two of these.

Breastfeeding mothers have a variety of health advantages. You have a better chance of losing pregnancy weight if you breastfeed. Diabetes, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and other diseases are also less likely to develop in later life.

Reference: Breast Milk, a Source of Beneficial Microbes and Associated Benefits for Infant Health

Due to its capacity to offer adequate nutrition and a variety of bioactive health elements, human breast milk is regarded as the ideal feeding regimen for newborns. Breast milk gives the developing baby essential nutrients and contains commensal bacteria that protect against pathogen adherence and encourage gut colonization with healthy bacteria. Breastfed infants tend to have better health and immunological development, fewer gastrointestinal disorders, and lower death rates than that fed formula.

How to Spot Poor Breast Milk?

Breast milk from a mother has several signs that it is spoiled. These elements consist of nutrition, enzymes, and immunological elements. When these elements are not working properly, breast milk might turn sour.

Parents can spot the symptoms of contaminated milk by understanding why these changes occur. Some parents claim that the taste of breast milk is soapy or metallic. This could happen if breast milk is handled and stored improperly.

Comparing the dates is an easy way to tell if breast milk has gone bad. The day you pumped the milk should be close to that date. Consuming or drinking is okay if you don’t write the date.

Look at the storage and pumping dates to determine if the milk is spoilt or rotten. Using this information will enable you to store breast milk properly. You won’t waste healthy breast milk if you do this.

Is Reheating Breast Milk Safe?

To defrost first, pick the milk that has been frozen the longest. Frozen milk should be defrosted in the refrigerator overnight. You might also submerge it in a gentle, continuous trickle of chilly water. Slowly increase the temperature of the running water to warm the milk to the feeding temperature. Run milk under warm water to rewarm it after it has been refrigerated.

Alternatively, you might warm up a pot on the stove and add the bottle or bag to the water. Avoid heating breast milk on the stove directly; never let it get hot enough to boil. You might try giving your infant cold milk if you keep it in the refrigerator rather than warming it. Some infants have no trouble consuming chilled milk. Don’t ever microwave breast milk. According to some studies, microwave heating can cause breast milk to lose some nutritional value.

Additionally, there is a chance of getting burned because liquids are heated unevenly by microwaves, leading to hot spots inside the container. These hot spots could burn your baby as you feed them.

Do not forget that chilled breast milk can appear divided, with a thin layer of cream on top and a layer of watery milk beneath. This does not indicate that the milk has deteriorated or gone bad.

To evenly distribute the cream before giving it to your infant, gently shake the container or rub the bag. You can still give this milk to your baby even though there’s a chance they won’t drink it. Sometimes, thawed milk will taste or smell like soap due to the milk lipids breaking down. If so, consider storing your expressed milk for a shorter period.

Does Breast Milk Resemble Regular Milk?

The formula is comparable to breast milk because it provides nutrition, maintains hydration, and gives newborns energy. No matter what kind of milk your kid consumes, he will grow. Although infant milk powder production methods have improved, they still fall short of your breast milk’s health advantages.

The primary food source for infants is breast milk. The milk produced by a woman’s mammary glands, located in her breasts, is known as breast milk or mother’s milk. It contains minerals, vitamins, lactose, and oligosaccharides from human milk, fat, protein, and carbohydrates.


If you are concerned about breast milk spoiling, some tips can help you store breast milk longer. The optimal storage times for breast milk are 6-8 hours for fresh milk or 24 hours for breast milk stored in an insulated cooler with an ice pack. If you need to store your breast milk for longer than this, you may want to consider freezing it.

While the ideal storage times for breast milk are still up for debate, most experts recommend that breast milk be stored at room temperature for at least four days. The temperature should not exceed 77 degrees Fahrenheit, as this can kill any lingering bacterial or fungal cells. In addition, women should store milk in a thermal insulator bag or a freezer pack.