Breast Milk Storage: The Rules of Freezing Breast Milk Safely

It’s quite common for many breastfeeding moms to collect breast milk and create a milk storage to use it later. This happens a lot nowadays as many mothers have to return to work and want to prolong breastfeeding for as long as possible. Pumping and storing breast milk can be also used as one of the ways to increase milk supply.  This article will answer any questions you may have on how to store breast milk safely.

I double-checked my tips with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, and have to emphasize first of all, that storing breast milk might not be a good idea for premature infants because their immune system is more sensitive.

The main objective when you are storing breast milk is to keep it fresh. You will learn from this post which are recommended temperatures and maximum time of milk storage.

Check the rules and temperatures for breast milk storage (short-term and long-term) in the refrigerator or in the freezer. How to use breast milk storage bags and bottles. Learn how to defrost breast milk and warm it before using safely.

For How long can you store breastmilk?

You need to use breast milk within one day, you can keep at room temperature maximum for six hours. Depends on the temperature in the room, of course. In summer months or if your room is very warm, you can keep freshly expressed milk up to 4 hours.

The most common situation though is when you need to store milk for a few days, in this case, you’ll need to keep it in the refrigerator. The best timing to use refrigerated breast milk is within 3 days.

In the back of the deep freezer, breast milk can be kept for up to 12 months. If you can use the frozen milk within six months, it’s the best for the baby.

How long can you keep breastmilk in the refrigerator?

If you just pumped breast milk, it can be stored in the back of the refrigerator for maximum five days in clean conditions. It’s recommended to use the milk within the first 3 days, if not possible, the milk should be switched to freezer storage.

What can I store breastmilk in?

You can store breast milk in the glass or hard plastic bottles as well as in breast milk storage bags. The plastic has to be designed to store breast milk, make sure you are not using plastic bags or bottles for general household use!

Can you take breast milk out of the fridge and put it back?

After defrosting the milk, you can keep it in the fridge in the bottle that will be used for feeding. You should not thaw breast milk at room temperature and you should not refreeze it.  If you have thawed breast milk, it should be used within 24 hours. And you definitely should not use a microwave oven to heat breastmilk! Microwaving milk is the worst idea because it kills all the breast milk’s living immune properties and creates hot spots in the liquid which can burn baby’s mouth.


Yep, I would also be confused now because there must be some way you CAN thaw frozen breast milk. So far you’ve been just told what you should not do.

So, you just need some extra time and patience. Leave the frozen milk in the fridge overnight. In exceptional cases, when you really need to rush defrosting, you can keep the container with milk in a bowl of warm water.


Now, should you feed your baby with the milk directly from fridge once it’s defrosted? Sure thing you should not 🙂 But warming up the milk right before using will not take much time. You just need to keep your container in a bowl with warm (not hot!) water for about 5 minutes.

Additional breast milk storage tips

  • Leave at least one inch of empty space in any container you use – when the milk freezes, it will expand in the volume.
  • Don’t forget to make a note of the storage date on each container. If your baby is in a group day care setting, additionally mark your baby’s name.
  • Frozen breastmilk should be kept in the middle of the freezer because the temperature in that part of the freezer is most consistent.

Did you like the post? Well, save THIS PIN below to your Breastfeeding Tips board on Pinterest and check it again when you need it again any time later!

Breastfeeding tips. Check the rules and temperatures for breast milk storage (short-term and long-term) in the refrigerator or in the freezer. How to use breast milk storage bags and bottles. Learn how to defrost breast milk and warm it before using safely.

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