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Best Methods for Breastmilk Storage

Updated on January 27, 2010

Breastmilk gives your baby much-needed nutrients, which are important for his health and development. If you are using a breastpump, it is important that you also use an appropriate breastmilk storage method to give the best benefits of breastmilk to your baby. If you are not going to feed the breastmilk to your baby right away, you can put it in the refrigerator or freeze it. Breastmilk can be stored at room temperature for 24 hours. After that time period, it should either be refrigerated or frozen.

Refrigerate Breastmilk

Breastmilk can last in a refrigerator for up to one week. If you are regularly using a breastpump and you or someone else is feeding your baby with the milk, refrigeration is ideal for making sure the milk your baby gets is fresh. You can store breastmilk in a portable container if you are pumping at work or away from home and stick it in the refrigerator when you return, given that it is within 24-hours.

Freeze Breastmilk

Freezing breastmilk is a great way to save up a large supply if you’re pumping more milk than your baby needs. Frozen breastmilk can last up to 4 months.  If you are freezing breast milk, use plastic chemical-free air-tight bags made especially for this purpose, which can be found online or at grocery stores. Write the date that the milk was pumped onto the bag so that you can be sure to use it while it is fresh, and use the oldest milk first. Also, when filling a bag with breastmilk to freeze, do not fill it completely full. Leave some room at the top to allow for expansion . Most breastmilk freezer bags hold 4 ounces, and should be laid flat in the freezer.

To defrost frozen breastmilk, place the bag in warm water for approximately 15 minutes. You should never microwave or heat breastmilk. You could burn your baby’s mouth or adversely alter the milk’s proteins. The breastmilk may smell or have yellow or brown tints to it, but that is normal and will not affect your baby.  If the breastmilk has fat floating on top of the liquid, just shake before giving it to your baby.

Proper breastmilk storage contributes to the health of your baby. Breastmilk that is not stored properly can be dangerous or harmful to your baby’s health. Feeding, refrigerating, or freezing breastmilk soon after pumping is the best method to ensure your baby receives the nutrients he needs.

Image Credit: Daquella manera, Flickr


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