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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.

How Long Does Frozen Breast Milk Last?

Ahhh, that stash of frozen breast milk is building! In fact, your freezer is overflowing and, what you once thought might only last a couple weeks, you’re now wondering if you have enough to eventually send her off to preschool with bottles! Which brings a new question to light: how long will that frozen breast milk truly last?

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The Storage Life of Frozen Breast Milk

If you have a freezer unit that is attached to a refrigerator, your frozen breast milk has a storage life of up to six months. The temperature should be kept below 39 degrees.

If you have a separate deep freeze unit, the storage life can be up to 12 months (though it’s best to keep it as close to six months as possible). The temperature should be kept below 0 degrees.

Using Frozen Breast Milk

Hopefully you’ve stored the breast milk in small containers (like these trays or bags). If so, you’ll be able to thaw out what you think Baby (or “babies,” if you have more than one to feed!) will need.

The day before you plan to use the frozen breast milk, place the needed quantity in the refrigerator (away from the door). A slow thaw is best (about 12 hours in the refrigerator). However, if you need the milk in a pinch, hold the container(s) under cool running water and gradually increase the temperature.

Once thawed, prepare bottle(s) and heat with a bottle warmer (I went through several before I decided this one must have been made by a Mom who needed bottles in the middle of the night – know what I mean??) or place in a cup and pour heated water into the cup. Never, never heat breast milk in the microwave – not only does it heat unevenly (and could burn Baby’s mouth!), it also kills off many of the precious nutrients that make up breast milk.

Breast milk that has been thawed now has a refrigerator life of up to 24 hours – please do not refreeze thawed breast milk.

If Baby doesn’t take all of a bottle of thawed and heated breast milk, you may store this bottle in the refrigerator for up to a couple of hours before it is likely no longer safe to give Baby again.

Expired Breast Milk

So, that stash you’ve got. What happens if you thaw it out around the 5-month mark (or even the 6-month mark…or the 12-month mark?) and it smells kinda funny? If it smells sour, it probably is. If it smells or tastes soapy, it may just have excess lipase (see one of our author’s solutions for using breast milk with excess lipase).

If you find yourself with breast milk you can’t use – it’s sour, expired (past the 12-month mark), etc., don’t throw it away! What?! That’s right – you’ve worked too hard to pump that milk only to throw it away! While it is no longer safe for your baby to consume, it still has many uses (see how to utilize this milk here).

Did you freeze breast milk? How much did you stash away?

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Jennifer Fountain is the founder of Growing Up Triplets and is a contributor to other blogs, including Breastfeeding Place. She writes about raising their three-year-old-triplets, taking the family back to living simply, and endeavoring to honor God in the midst of it all. She has been married to her hubby, David, for nearly five years and is madly in love with him! You can follow Jennifer and the three peas on Google+FacebookTwitterPinterest and the blog.


  1. […] 1. This Last Month of Pregnancy Checklist has some great reminders and tips before you go into the delivery room. It covers everything from the importance of pampering yourself pre-baby to errands and helpful things to sign up for.  2. I have already started to prepare for my hospital visit, but this Hospital Bag Checklist has some great and important additions that I never even thought about! 3. Since this is my first child, I pretty much have zero idea of what to expect going into labor. I read this article about How to Tell if it’s Labor and Other Tips to keep myself in-the-know and prepare myself so I don’t freak out.  4. Same as above, I have no clue what to expect from my body after giving birth so this article is definitely an eye opener.  5. These 8 Must-Haves to Survive Your Newborn’s First Month will definitely come in handy very soon. I love the idea for white noise to mimic the sounds of the womb and soothe the baby. I also have my eye on the book she talks about–everyone says it’s genius! 6.  Ever since becoming a wife and mommy-to-be, I have become especially fond of anything to do with cute organizing methods. I love these 10 Ways to Quickly Get Organized with Baby. It shows you several different ways to neatly and prettily organize baby’s clothes, accessories and gadgets.  7. I have a feeling that planning some pre-frozen dinner recipes before baby gets here will be a VERY good idea. Sleepless nights, adjusting to a new life with a baby, and tons of family shenanigans will probably give me little to no time to prepare and cook meals. Having them pre-planned and easy to cook right away will save me a lot of hassle in the first few weeks! 8. Although this list of 14 Things You Need for Your Postpartum Body bums me out (and scares me a little to be honest!) I know that post-birth, I will appreciate being prepared and having the products and items I need for a healthy healing process and comfortable transition.  9. I love these tips for getting back into a workout schedule and getting back in shape after the baby. Surprisingly, being pregnant has made me less body conscious and more comfortable in my own skin (minus the fact that my skin is stretched to where it’s almost painful now). However, I do want to be as healthy and as spritely as possible (even just for the sake of my own baby) and I’m actually excited for once to hit the treadmill again. I can’t wait to be the active, cute cliché soccer mom (or whatever sport she ends up playing)   10. I’ve never had the experience of milking myself like a cow so I’m guessing it will be good to know how long frozen breast milk will last in the fridge. […]

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