Breastmilk Storage Guidelines
The following guidelines can help to ensure that your expressed breastmilk remains fresh for your child’s feedings.
- Room Temperature (66-72 ?F, 19-22 ?C) fresh for up to 10 hours
- Refrigerator (32-39 ?F, 0-4 ?C) store fresh milk for up to 8 days
- Freezer Compartment in Refrigerator store for 2 weeks
- Freezer with Separate Door from Refrigerator remains fresh for 3 to 4 months
- Deep Freezer (0 ?F, -19 ?C) store milk safely for up to 6 months
Refrigeration is the recommended method for storing breastmilk because it preserves the natural immunity factors of the milk better than freezing.
Freezing Refrigerated Milk
It is recommended that fresh milk be chilled prior to freezing; however, milk that has been refrigerated for a day or two should not be frozen. Milk that has been refrigerated that long should not be frozen because although refrigeration has slowed down the enzyme activity it has not stopped completely and it has a greater potential for bacteria growth.
To be on the safe side any milk that needs to be frozen should be placed in the freezer within 6 hours of refrigerating to ensure that it is frozen at its freshest state.
Adding Fresh Milk to Frozen Milk
Many mothers often wonder whether it is safe to add fresh milk to frozen milk. Fresh milk can be layered onto frozen milk as long as the fresh milk is chilled and is less than the amount of milk that is already frozen. This will prevent the milk from thawing and refreezing.
Separation of Breastmilk
Breastmilk separates into a fatty layer and a milky layer after it has been refrigerated, this is normal and is not a sign of spoilage. Gently swirling the milk before feeding will help mix the layers together.
Be sure to always label your expressed milk with the date before storing. This will help you to ensure that you always use the oldest available fresh milk first. You should also include your baby’s name on the label if the milk will be stored with milk for more than one baby.
Helpful Storage Tips
- When storing your milk, always be sure to place it in the back of the refrigerator or freezer to ensure that it stays cool even when the refrigerator or freezer door is opened and closed throughout the day.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling any expressed milk.
- Store breastmilk in the amount that your baby eats during each feeding or in small 1 to 2oz. amounts to limit the amount of milk that is wasted.
If your expressed milk will be fed to your baby by someone other than you, it can be helpful to provide them with a copy of these breastmilk storage guidelines. For more information on feeding stored milk to your baby read our article Using Stored Breastmilk.
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