Breast Milk Storage: What’s the Best Way to Store Breastmilk?

Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk

Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk

Breast Milk Storage is a process that is of utmost importance to nursing mothers because breastfeeding can be a full-time job for a mother, especially in the first few months of birth. It is an established fact that for the first six months of life, it is advisable that mothers feed their babies only on breastmilk and water. In fact, some medical doctors advise that if it is possible to practice EBF (Exclusive Breastfeeding) for at least sixteen months, it improves the child’s metabolism and brain development.

As well-meaning as the above facts can be, not all nursing mothers have the luxury of time to attend to their babies. Busy routines, work schedules, and circumstances may hinder mothers from being available all the time. One alternative method of providing a child with all the nutrients he or she needs during this enforced absence is to buy breast milk.

This is advantageous in a lot of ways, but the most important benefit of this exercise is that a child is not deprived of the basic nutrients required for proper growth. Therefore working parents, career women, and busy mothers can attend to other needs without worrying about their children.

However, storing breast milk is a delicate procedure, especially for the child’s safety; if it is not done carefully, it could become harmful first to the child and the mother.

This article will give you a step by step approach to storing breast milk for your child.

Before You Store

Wash Your Hands

Due to the delicate procedure and to prevent the risk of contamination, before going through the processes, your hands must be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Sterilized Breast Pump

Breast pumps are devices used by nursing mothers to extract breast milk. Be sure whatever breast pump you decide to use is well cleaned and is germ-free.

Device for Storage

It is necessary to be intentional with what device or container you would use to preserve the breast milk. For safety, it is advisable to have a dedicated bottle to store in.

There are two main types of containers that can preserve breast Milk, and we will briefly discuss the two.

Hard Plastic or Glass

These kinds of containers are most times BPA free and are very strong. You don’t have to worry about spillage since they can stay a long time if left untouched. The downside, it can be dangerous around children if it falls or is handled carelessly.

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Plastic Bags

There are plastic bags dedicated to storing breast milk, though they are at risk of having a tear, leakage, or even contamination. If you decide on this bag, then to be safe, you can place it in a hard container with a firm cover.

A note of warning: Never store your breast milk in just any container or plastic; it can be hazardous to your child’s health.

Label the Container

For busy mothers, labeling the container is as important as storing the milk, especially if your child is in a crèche or daycare facility. Even if you store it in the refrigerator, it is vital the container is labeled to indicate the content, and if it is in a public place, the child’s name is too.

Preservation of the Milk

After expressing the milk into the container or bottle, the next step is preservation. Breast Milk can be stored for a couple of days to weeks, depending on the means of preservation. We will examine all the procedures of preservation.

How Much to Store

If you are just trying it for the first time, it is advisable to preserve just what is right for one feeding. Furthermore, never fill up your container or bottle since milk expands as it freezes. If you are spending the day out or you intend to send breast milk to the crèche, you can preserve extra for unforeseen circumstances.

Where to Store

There are different ways by which breast milk is preserved; we will briefly highlight them at this point. You get to choose whichever one is best for you.


This is commonly used, especially in schools, daycares, events, or public places. You can use them in the house too. All you need is a cooler with some ice packs, and you can preserve your child’s meal for a few hours.


This is the common means of preserving breast milk in the home. It can store up your child’s food for days.

Deep Freezer

This is the safest; it can preserve breast milk the longest without hassles.

How Long to Store

Note that breast milk cannot be stored up indefinitely to avoid spoilage or contamination; therefore, the duration of storage is dependent on the device used in preservation. We will highlight the means of preservation and how long it can preserve breast milk.

Room Temperature

You can leave milk at room temperature for up to six hours, but it is advisable to use it within four hours to preserve nutrients. This is often used when you are ready to feed your baby.

Insulated Coolers

When on a trip, this is the best form of preservation. Get a cooler, place your filled container, and cover with ice packs. This kind of preservation will last one day.


Under hygienic conditions, breast milk refrigerated can be preserved for up to five days when processed perfectly, but you are advised to use it up within three days for safety purposes.

Deep Freezer

This is the safest and most extended means of preserving breast-milk, with the capacity to store the baby food for up to one year; however, parents are advised to use up the baby food within six months precautionary measures.

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How to Use Frozen Breast Milk

We have discussed how to preserve Breast milk extensively, and now it is time to bring it out for use. Just like we systematically preserved the baby food, there is a procedure before a child can consume it.

The process of defrosting food before consumption is called thawing. Before breast milk can be served to a child, it must be properly thawed. Unlike other food items that can be microwaved or heated up on gas, breast- milk would lose nutrients and sometimes taste if done this way; there are two significant ways of defrosting baby milk.


The first step you take when you need to thaw Breast milk is to remove it from the freezer and place it in a refrigerator. This helps the milk defrost, and this is better done a night before the food is needed. By the next morning, you can leave for some minutes at room temperature before serving your child.

Warm Water

This is the second acceptable way of thawing breast milk. You can put it under a running tap of warm water (covered up, of course) or place the container in a bowl of warm water. The milk gently defrosts and is then placed at room temperature. Once this is done, you are ready to serve your baby.

Please note that it is better to thaw the oldest milk; first, this is for safety reasons, and this is why it is necessary to always label stored milk adequately, with date and time for easy identification.

Frequently Asked Questions on Storing Breastmilk

How Long Can Thawed Milk Last?  

It is advisable to use thawed milk within twenty-four hours, after which it should be disposed of, and this is because it might not taste good or might get contaminated after a whole day.

Can I add Freshly Expressed Milk to an already Frozen One?

Yes, you can. However, before adding to frozen milk, it’s best you put it in a fridge and allow it to cool up before adding it. This prevents it from warming up the already frozen milk. Better still, store the fresh milk separately.

Why does Stored Milk Smell or Taste Slightly Different?

This varies based on the diet of the mother, but most times, there are little changes. This is perfectly natural since an enzyme called lipase breaks down fats and releases fatty acid; this helps preserve the milk from dangerous bacteria.

Why is My Baby Refusing Preserved Milk?

Although we can’t authoritatively answer why some babies don’t like to preserve milk, we will suggest you reduce the duration of storage.

Can Partly Drunk Milk be Stored?

The answer is no. A lot must have taken place while feeding the baby; in fact, the baby may have passed germs while sucking. It is safe to do away with partly drunk milk. For more information, you can check infant and toddler health.

Final Note

The Reason why we mother safely store Breast-Milk is to give enough time to attend to other duties adequately, have time to tend themselves, or even wean a child. If breast-milk is expressed correctly and stored away, not only will you have time on your hands, you have taken a major step in introducing your baby to a life of independence.

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