Storing breast milk

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.

Chat or Ask a Question:

If you have a question about this article or something else, visit our friendly forums & ask the AskBaby community.

Chat about storing breast milk with our friendly community...

Your Comments:

We'd love to hear your comments on this article...

Login to add your comment:

Email: Password:
Not yet a member? Join thousands of other parents and parents-to-be... Sign Up Now!
Forgot your

if i store milk in fridge for 24 hours then take it out with me is it still ok at room temperature for four hours then?
by micksc 2nd Jul 2009, 9:32am
The Le Leache League guidelines suggest that you can leave fresh breast milk out at room temperature for 10 hours without harming the properties. As a Newborn Care Specialist I have been doing that for years with no ill effects. That makes it really nice for those who want to pump at night and leave it on the night stand. It also works nice for me as I do night duty and I take the breast milk out of the refrigerator as soon as I get to the job and by the time it is feeding time, the milk is room temperature.
One more thing. I have never found the tea has worked as a milk production aid. You have to drink to much of it for good results. The ticture is the only thing that works and it must be made up of multiple herbs (not just a single herb). It comes in many brands but it must be the ticture and it is very effective.
by babysleeper 26th May 2009, 12:40pm
There's a type of organic tea called Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother's Milk that is supposed to help with milk production. I have not used it yet as my baby's due date is not until another 3 weeks, but I went ahead and bought it just in case I have problems with milk production as many women in my family have. I have read the reviews on it at several websites and it appears to have high ratings/reviews. I figure it's worth a try as it is less than four dollars for 16 tea bags at most websites, so if it ends up not working, well I haven't wasted a lot of money since it's so inexpensive. Hope this helps.
by Babbs 13th Nov 2007, 10:23am
my daughter is nearly 5 months old and she started with breastfeeding and then combines with bottle feeding as she didn't get much from the breast, she was fine with both. until recently she just doesn't like the breast anymore. i had to go away for couple of time and had to live her with my mum, when she was just bottle feed. and now i really want her to back on the breast again at least two three feeding a day, but she doesn't she any interest at all. i use the hand pump 2/3 times a day and get nearly 1 ounce each time. i really want to try harder before giving up. please help me what shall i do, shall i just give up or just carry on pumping, will i get enoung milk if pump more often. please help
by zeena 21st May 2007, 10:03am