Advice on freezing and storing breast milk with information on the current breast milk storage regulations.
Whereas it is inadvisable to store formula milk, current guidelines suggest that it is safe to store breast milk for later use. However, there are certain recommendations for storing, freezing and thawing breast milk that you should follow to ensure that it is safe for your baby to drink.
- Room Temperature - you can store breast milk at room temperature for up to 4 hours.
- Coolers - you can store breast milk in a cool box or bag fitted with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours.
- Fridge - you can store breast milk in the back of a fridge for 3 - 5 days.
- Fridge Freezer - you can store breast milk in the coldest part of a fridge freezer for up to 3 months.
- Deep Freeze - you can store breast milk in the coldest part of a deep freeze for 6 - 12 months.
When storing or freezing breastmilk you should use a sealed, sterilised container or special leak proof milk bag. When freezing breast milk it is advisable to separate it into small portions as this makes it easier to defrost and avoids wastage. Additionally, you should use an adhesive label or piece of masking tape to date the containers and use the oldest first.
You should never defrost breast milk in the microwave as it is unlikely to be heated evenly with hot patches that may burn your baby. Instead you can either thaw breast milk in the fridge, place the container in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes or hold it under warm running water.
You should never refreeze milk that has been defrosted and should always use thawed milk within 24 hours of removing it from the freezer.
It is common for breast milk to separate when stored for any length of time as the fat forms a layer on the top of the breast milk - if this happens simply shake the bottle until the fat has integrated back into the milk, it will then be safe for your baby to drink.