Welcome to our “How to store breast milk” guide! The first question to ask is how long do you need to store breast milk? Longer than 8 days or 8 days or less?
How To Store Breast Milk For 8 Days Or Less
Storing breast milk for short term use (8 days or less) is as simple as putting it in the refrigerator. Well, almost. Here’s the details:
- After you finish pumping, place the breast milk in the refrigerator. There’s no need to let the breast milk cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge, however if the milk sits out for short time (no more than a couple hours) the freshness shouldn’t be affected.
- Bag the milk. Or not. There are several manufacturers of breast milk storage bags. A quick web or amazon search will show you the options. However if you have extra pumping bottles or you will not need the pumping bottles before the breast milk is used, it’s perfectly fine to just store your pump bottles in the fridge. This also saves on washing.
- Label the stored breast milk with the date. Most breast milk storage bags have a place where you can write the date or make notes. If you’re leaving your milk in the pump bottles, write down the date on masking tape and put that on the bottle.
- Set a expiration reminder. If you’re not certain that you will be able to use the breast milk before it expires, set a reminder in your calendar for a week from now saying that the milk should be used or frozen today.
How To Store Breast Milk For Longer Than 8 Days
Banking up a freezer stash of breast milk is common for many moms who will be returning to work or school but still want to provide all the benefits of breast milk to their baby. Here’s how to store breast milk properly and keep organized:
- Store an amount of breast milk that makes sense. Usually this is three to five ounces, but try to anticipate what quantity will be most helpful to your baby sitter. If that amount is 4 ounces, there’s no point in storing a one ounce bag of breast milk. Instead if you pump less than your target amount, put the pump bottles, flanges and tubes in the fridge. The next time you go to pump, simply use your equipment from the fridge and add to the breast milk you previously produced.
- Once you have pumped your target amount – even if that’s over two or more pumping sessions – pour the breast milk into a breast milk storage bag and note today’s date on the bag and place it in the freezer.
- If you have pumped more milk that your target storage amount, you can either:
- Store a larger bag (5 oz instead of 4 oz). or
- You can make a 4 ounce bag and freeze that and put the remaining ounce in a new bag that you can keep in the fridge and add to later.
- To keep organized, put the breast milk storage bags for a given month all in a gallon sized ziplock freezer bag. This way you’ll have a “March” bag, an “April” bag and so on. It’s much easier to find the milk you want when it’s organized this way.
- You can store breast milk in a refrigerator freezer for about 4 months and a deep freezer will get you a full 12 months of storage. See the breast milk storage guidelines below or click the image to print your own copy.