Breast Milk Storage

How Much Milk Should I Store in Each Container?

A good place to start is 2 oz. By freezing in smaller portions you will be able to combine to get the amount your baby will take. Many mothers store milk in 1, 2, and 3 oz portions so it can be combined to get the correct amount depending on their baby’s changing needs. Remember, once your baby drinks from a bottle the milk should be used within the hour.

If you are returning to work, you will have a better idea of how much your baby will take in a bottle once you return to work. Also you will be pumping fresh milk each workday for your baby the next day so it will be easier to match the amount your baby is taking.

Any tips on storing milk?

If you combine milk pumped at different times in the same portion for freezing, mark the date of the oldest milk in that portion on the container. You can use glass, plastic containers or milk freezer bags. Always remember to leave at least an inch and half at the top of the storage container to allow expansion of the breast milk as it freezes. When freezing, store it toward the back of the freezer.

For how long can milk be stored?

Storage of milk depends on the temperature. Many people like to think of the rule of 4’s: 4 hours at room temperature; 4 days in the refrigerator; 4 months in a refrigerator freezer with a separate door.

For a healthy full-term baby, fresh breast milk can be stored at room temperature (66 to 72 degrees) for 4 hours in general and up to for 6- 8 hours if collected in clean conditions. If it is not going to be used in that time then refrigerate as soon as possible. If it is warmer out, then it is best refrigerate within 4 hours. Breastmilk can be stored in insulated cooler bag for 24 hours, keep icepack in contact with the milk. Breastmilk may be kept in the refrigerator for 4 days (5–8 days if under very clean conditions), a refrigerator freezer with separate door for 3 to 6 months and a deep freezer for 6-12 months.

Once thawed, it should be used within 2 hours if at room temperature, 24 hours if kept refrigerated and it should not be refrozen.

The above times are for healthy full-term infants, storage times will vary for premature or sick babies.

How do I warm and thaw breast milk?

Breast milk can be thawed in the refrigerator. If placed in the fridge overnight, it is usually ready the next day. It can also be thawed using cool water in a bowl or pot, and then gradually increasing the water temperature until the milk is warm enough. Breast milk usually thaws fairly quickly. Never thaw it in the microwave, it may destroy vital nutrients and it also heats the breast milk unevenly increasing the chance of hot spot that could burn the baby’s mouth. Once frozen milk has been thawed, do not refreeze. It may be kept in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Can I mix breast milk and formula in the same bottle?

Yes. Some mother’s mix the two when they do not have enough pumped milk or the baby does not like the taste of formula.