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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Guidelines for Storing Breast Milk

Guidelines for Storing Breast Milk #breastmilk #babyRegardless of whether or not you are planning to express breast milk for your new baby, you’ll want to be aware of these guidelines for storing breast milk.

It’s not always easy to foresee challenges and bumps in the road that may occur. Some women end up pumping breast milk for baby while in the NICU, some pump in preparation for going back to work. Some mothers pump milk for the occasional bottle for a date night or simply to enjoy some “mom time.”

Depending on your needs for your pumped milk, there are many options for storing your milk. As a seasoned mom you may find that there are more relaxed guidelines for storing breast milk, however the guidelines below are widely accepted as the correct and proper way to keep your precious expressed milk free from bacterial growth and contamination.

Guidelines for Storing Breast Milk

Immediate Use of Fresh Milk

If you’re pumping for a bottle right away, the milk is good at room temperature for 4-8 hours. If the room is a warmer temperature it is best to discard the milk after 4 hours. If milk is kept in a cooler with ice packs, then the milk is good for 24 hours. If fresh milk is placed in the refrigerator, it can be good for 3-5 days when kept in the back, away from the door.

Using a Freezer Stash

When pumping to keep a freezer stash it is best to cool milk down int he fridge first. By gradually cooling down the milk before freezing you are able to maintain a lot of the natural proteins found in breast milk.  Make sure to label all your milk. It is generally assumed that milk pumped within 3-4 hours can be mixed and frozen together. Milk stored in the freezer is good for up to 6 months. If you have a deep freezer, milk can potentially keep for up to a year.

When thawing frozen milk the same rules apply from the cooling down process: in order to maintain the awesome composition of breast milk you should gradually heat it. If possible, pull the milk from the freezer before hand and place it in the fridge to thaw overnight. Using a running faucet continue to thaw the milk prior to use, gradually increasing the faucet temperature to warm the milk making sure to massage the bag for an even temperature. Never place breast milk in the microwave to heat up.

Previously frozen milk can keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. If a bottle has been heated for a feeding, it can be used withing a few hours before discarding.

Can I Refreeze Thawed Milk?

If your plans change, or you simply don’t need as much milk as you thought, there is a possibility you can refreeze your milk. Depending on how cold you keep your fridge/freezer, you may be able to pop the bag back in the freezer. If your breast milk still has ice crystals it is NOT technically thawed. You can feel the crystals (like chunks of slivers of ice) and you can sometimes see that the breast milk still has frozen sections. Milk that has been left in the fridge, but still has ice crystals, is fine to place back in the freezer.

If your milk is completely liquid, however, you can not refreeze it. You should make the bottle and use it, or you can cook with it to feed your family. Simply use breast milk in place of regular milk. (And if you don’t tell your husband he’ll never know – trust me!)

Some people like to freeze “expired” breast milk into cubes to use for scrapes and other owies. You can also make soap with your breast milk! If you get creative you shouldn’t have to waste a drop.

Do you keep a stash of frozen breast milk in the freezer?

Shary Lopez is a late-twenties, nerdy gal living in Tampa Bay. Her family consists of a bearded husband and two children: one eight-year-old daughter and one very adventurous toddler boy. As a childbirth junkie and breastfeeding advocate, Shary tries to lean her family towards natural living while still grasping onto convenience and frugality. You can find more of her writings on Shary's personal blog, Atta Mama. Shary is also on social networking sites such as FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


  1. What are the things you used to store your milk in in that picture ?

  2. Increased awareness is the key… I hope more moms go for breastfeeding.


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