How to Store Breastmilk?

When it comes to storing breastmilk, there are a few things you need to know. These tips include storing it at the right temperature, thawing it before freezing it, and keeping it clean.

By using the suggested methods for preparation and storage, expressed breast milk can be kept in a safe and healthy condition for the baby.

These are general recommendations for handling human milk storage at various temperatures. How long human milk can be safely preserved depends on a number of factors. These elements include the amount of milk produced, the temperature at which it is expressed, temperature variations in the refrigerator and freezer, and environmental cleanliness.

How to Store Breastmilk?

It’s crucial to properly store breast milk to keep it pure and healthy for your infant to swallow.

Here are some recommendations regarding breast milk storage:

  • Utilize a breastmilk storage bag or a clean, sterile glass or hard plastic container with a tight-fitting lid to collect and store the milk. Do not use soft plastic containers or disposable bottle liners.
  • The date and time of the milk’s expression should be written on the container’s label.
  • Breast milk can be kept in the freezer or refrigerator for up to 6 months. Breast milk can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 days. The temperature in the refrigerator door can change more than the main compartment, so avoid storing it there.
  • When using breast milk that has been preserved, always start with the oldest container and work your way through the more recent ones.
  • Don’t combine freshly made milk with milk that has already been frozen. If you’re adding milk to a container that already contains frozen milk, make sure to freeze the new milk separately first and then transfer it to the container once it has frozen. The quality of milk may be compromised if fresh and frozen milk is combined.
  • Breastmilk can be thawed and heated in the refrigerator or by submerging the container in a basin of warm water. Avoid using a microwave to defrost breast milk since it may kill certain vital antibodies. Additionally, never reheat breastmilk in a stovetop pot; instead, put the container in a basin of warm water.

It’s crucial to remember that breast milk shouldn’t be kept at room temperature or out of the fridge for longer than two hours since it might deteriorate and become dangerous for the infant.

Breast Milk can be Stored in Various Ways

Breastfeeding milk storage at room temperature.

Your baby can safely consume breast milk at room temperature (up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 4 hours. Your breast milk should ideally be kept as cool as possible. To ensure safety, experts advise covering the milk with a fresh, chilly towel. If your infant has consumed some breastmilk, utilize the remainder within two hours or discard it.

Breast milk is safe for up to 24 hours if kept in an insulated cooler bag with frozen ice packs.

Refrigerating breast milk storage.

It is advisable to utilize breast milk within 4 days of receiving it. Breast milk is safe in a refrigerator (around 40 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 8 days. To extend the period that your breast milk will be safe, it is best to chill or refrigerate it as soon as you express it. Cool down freshly expressed milk before adding it to a container of milk that has already been refrigerated.

Breastmilk that has been refrigerated can be warmed up by placing it in a small basin and running it under warm, not hot, water. Breast milk should never be microwaved. If it warms unevenly, not only could your baby get burned, but some of the healthy components in breast milk are also lost in the process. Before giving it to your infant, check the temperature; it should feel warm but not hot on your wrist.

Breast milk being frozen.

It is preferable to freeze breast milk if you do not intend to use it within 4 days. Don’t overfill the bags or containers because the milk will expand as it freezes. Use the milk that is the oldest before using the newest, and make sure to write the date that it was obtained. This guarantees that your collection is cycled and that no milk goes bad.

Breast milk should be preserved for up to 6 months, according to the CDC. After being frozen, it can be used without risk for up to a year (12 months).

Two safe methods for defrosting breast milk have been frozen. It can be run under warm water or put in the refrigerator to thaw over about 24 hours slowly. It should never be microwaved, just like refrigerated milk. Swirl the milk once it has warmed up since some of the fats may have separated. This is quite normal and does not mean the milk has gone sour.

Use the breast milk within 4 hours of it reaching room temperature, else discard it. Once heated, it must be consumed right away or thrown out. The CDC strongly advises against refreezing breast milk that has already been defrosted.

What is the Shelf Life of Breast Milk?

To ensure that you don’t use any expired milk, write the date on the bottles or bags. Breast milk can generally be kept in storage:

  • 4 to 8 hours at ambient temperature (less than 77 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • For three to eight days, at the back of a refrigerator.
  • A freezer’s back section for up to three months

Hightower advises utilizing defrosted breast milk stored in your refrigerator within 24 to 48 hours. Your breast milk may last up to a year if you have a deep freezer. “It’s not that keeping your milk in the freezer longer will cause it to spoil and make your baby sick. However, its nutritious value will be reduced “says Hightower.

What is the Shelf Life of Breast Milk at Room Temperature?

Depending on its nature, breast milk can remain at room temperature for varying amounts of time.

  • If the breast milk is not in direct sunlight or near any other sources of heat, it can be kept at room temperature (no warmer than 77° F) for up to four hours.
  • Breast milk that has been thawed after being frozen can remain at room temperature for one to two hours. Utilize it or lose it!

If your infant had a feeding but didn’t finish the bottle, you must use the remaining food within two hours. You must throw it out following this period. too many microbes

Reduce waste by storing breast milk in smaller quantities so that your baby consumes the entire amount at each feeding.

Where should Breast Milk be Stored?

It is difficult to think that milk can remain at room temperature without going bad, but it is true for breast milk. This is so that many bacteria and viruses can be eliminated by the mother’s milk, which functions somewhat like an antibiotic. Put the breast milk in a freezer or refrigerator if you plan to keep it for more than a few hours.

However, never store it in a freezer or refrigerator door. According to Kelly A. Hightower, R.N., a licenced lactation counsellor, “it’s preferable to keep it at the rear, so it’s less exposed to the changing temperature of the door opening and closing.” Those without access to a fridge can keep milk in an insulated cooler with ice packs if they are traveling, at work, or for another purpose.

Safe Breast Milk Thawing

First and first, defrost the oldest breast milk. Keeping first in, first out in mind, The quality of breast milk can deteriorate over time.

Your breast milk can be defrosted in a variety of ways:

  • Overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Place in a bowl of hot or warm water.
  • Warm flowing water is used.
  • Never use a microwave to defrost or warm breast milk. Microwaves can destroy breast milk’s nutrition, and hot patches can form and burn a baby’s lips.
  • Use breast milk that has been refrigerated to defrost within 24 hours. Please keep track of the 24 hours after the breast milk has thawed completely, not when you first took it out of the freezer.
  • Use breast milk within two hours of bringing it to room temperature or warming it.
    After it has thawed, breast milk should never be refrozen.

When shouldn’t you Utilise Breast Milk that has been Stored?

You can probably identify the smell of spoiled breast milk if you are familiar with the scent of spoiled milk. Try tasting it if you’re still not certain. If it’s sour, it’s bad and needs to be thrown away.

Added trick? Keep an eye on the breast milk’s flow. Breast milk can be easily reconstituted with a gentle spin of the bottle when it is still in good condition. Throw it out if it doesn’t do this or if there are chunks floating in it (as bad milk does with regular milk).

Effects of Consuming Spoiled Breast Milk

Several unpleasant side effects might result from consuming rotten or poor breast milk, including:

  • Diarrhea: Contaminated breast milk may include dangerous bacteria that lead to diarrhoea, cramping in the stomach, and other digestive problems.
  • Vomiting: As the body works to get rid of the infected milk, consuming spoilt breast milk can also make you feel sick and make you vomit.
  • Fever: If the poor breast milk has dangerous germs in it, it can potentially result in an infection and a fever.
  • Dehydration: Vomiting and diarrhoea can cause dehydration, particularly in young children and infants who may not be able to consume enough fluids to make up for what they’ve lost.
  • Reactions due to allergies: Some infants may experience allergic reactions to certain proteins or other elements in breast milk.
  • Reduced milk production: A nursing mother’s milk supply may be reduced if her body interprets poor milk as an infection or disease.

To prevent these negative effects, greater caution should be used when handling, storing, and eating breast milk. Breastmilk that is stored properly and consumed within the advised storage period is regarded as safe to consume. It is preferable to throw out milk if you notice any changes in it, including colour, odour, or clumping.

It’s vital to call your paediatrician right away if your baby exhibits any of these negative effects after ingesting breast milk. They will advise you on the best course of action and see to it that your infant is treated and hydrated appropriately.


The best way to store breast milk is in a cold freezer. You can also store it in a cooler with ice packs. If your refrigerator does not have a thermostat, you may want to consider purchasing an inexpensive freestanding appliance thermometer.

The ideal storage time for breast milk is four days. You can store milk in a refrigerator for longer periods of time, such as six months or more. However, short-term storage in a fridge is not recommended because of the thawing process.

For a more conservative approach, breast milk can be stored at room temperature for up to four hours. It’s best to consult a pediatrician or lactation consultant if you have questions about pumping and storing breast milk.