Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
According to National Health and Medical Research Council expressed breast milk can be stored:
- At room temperature for 6-8 hours
- In a cooler/ esky with a frozen ice brick for 24 hours
- In the refrigerator 3 days (store at back of fridge as it is colder)
- In the freezer for 3 months
- In a deep freezer for 6-12 months
Always use the oldest milk first when it’s time to feed baby.
Milk can be fed at room temperature, but your baby may prefer it heated (after all, it comes from the source at body temperature).
How to thaw and reheat frozen breast milk
You can thaw frozen milk by setting it in a bowl of hot tap water (not boiling) or by holding it under running warm water.
Never use a microwave to heat baby milk (it can not only cause hot spots that could burn your baby, but will destroy some of the beneficial components of breastmilk).
Milk that has been previously frozen cannot be frozen again and must be discarded.
Once breast milk is thawed it can be refrigerated for a maximum of 24 hours or left at room temperature for a maximum of 4 hours.
What to use to store your breast milk
There are a number of options when it comes to storing breast milk. They include:
- Breast Milk Freezer Bags - These are single use pre-sterilised ziplock bags.
- Freezer Containers - Make sure you use BPA free plastic, glass or silicone containers. Make sure they have a lid to protect the milk from taking on any odours that may be in your freezer.
It is important to label the date when you freeze your milk so you don't let it go off. Also labelling the time you expressed is handy as if you need to top your baby up with milk, you can use milk from a similar time of day.
How much should I store in each container?
It's best to try and split the milk up into smaller portions so you can easily vary the quantity to what your baby needs. Also smaller portion sizes will defrost quicker and easier than a bigger portion sizes.