Pediatric Specialists of Plano

Advice for safe breast milk storage

You have probably heard about all the advantages of breastfeeding for your new baby, but did anyone talk to you about breast milk storage? There are a variety of reasons that you may need to store expressed breast milk, including returning to work, wanting your partner to participate in feedings, or breastfeeding issues. Whatever your reasons for bottle-feeding your baby expressed milk, our Plano pediatricians have information about how to properly obtain, store, freeze and thaw breast milk.

How to store and freeze expressed breast milk

Breast milk storage may sound complicated, but it’s not once you read over the information. Before you pump milk, it’s a good idea to prepare your storage supplies. Clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use a 60% or more alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Keep your breast pump parts and tubing clean.

You can store milk in the refrigerator or freezer in presterilized nursing bags designed specifically to store breast milk, or in clean bottles with tight, secure screw-on tops. Plastic bottles should be BPA-free. If the bottles have a recycle number of 7 on them, they may contain BPA.

It’s safe to leave breast milk out at room temperature for up to four hours, but you must refrigerate the milk if the room temperature is 78° F or higher. You can leave the milk in your fridge for up to four days. If you don’t think you can use the milk in the next four days, you need to freeze it immediately after pumping it.

Here are some tips for freezing your expressed breast milk.

  • Write the date you expressed the milk on the bag and container.
  • Try to freeze your expressed milk in quantities of two to four ounces.
  • When the milk is frozen, tighten the glass bottles again.
  • Be sure to leave room for expansion that occurs during freezing in the bag or bottle, about an inch from the top of the storage container.
  • Don’t store the milk in the freezer door; instead, store it toward the back to avoid thawing.

Thawing and heating milk

Thawing and heating your expressed breast milk is the next step in breast milk storage. Follow these guidelines from our Plano pediatricians.

  • Check the date on your milk, and use the oldest batch first.
  • Thaw the milk overnight in your refrigerator.
  • You don’t have to warm your milk. You can give it to your baby cold or at room temperature.
  • If you choose to warm the milk, do not use the microwave. Instead, run warm water over the tightly sealed bag or bottle, or place it in a container of warm water until it thaws.
  • You should use the milk within 24 hours of thawing, if you are keeping it in the refrigerator. If you warm it, you need to use it in the next two hours.
  • Don’t refreeze thawed breast milk.

Our Plano pediatricians can answer your questions about breast milk storage

Our pediatricians provide the advice and information you need about breast milk storage and breastfeeding to help you navigate this new stage of life. Contact us for an appointment.