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Tips for storing breast milk

Prior to collecting:

  • Hands and pump should be washed with soap and hot water, then rinsed well.
  • You need to use special storage bags or containers meant for collecting breast milk.
  • Containers should be clean and can be closed with airtight seals.
  • You might want to use special storage bags. These are not the same as bottle liner bags, and those should not be used for storing breast milk

How to store:

  • Store in 2 or 4 ounce portions to prevent wasting milk.
  • Keep each day's milk collection separate. But you can combine collections from a single day to get the amount you want in a container. Just make sure you cool newly collected milk 1 hour before adding to previously collected milk.
  • Leave a 1 inch space at the top of the container when freezing.
  • Do not keep and reuse leftover milk that has been heated for baby's feeding.
  • Put containers at the back of the fridge or freezer where it is the coldest.
  • Label the container with the date the breast milk was collected.
  • After the storage time has passed, throw the milk away.
  • Remember to always use the milk with the oldest date first.
  • Swirl milk in container to mix after it has been thawed and warmed.

These are general storage guidelines. Talk to a TMC lactation consultant, doctor or nurse for the best storage recommendations for your baby.

Human milk storage guidelines

Type of breastmilk Room temperature
77°F or colder (25°C)
40°F (4°C)
0°F or colder (-18°C)
Freshly expressed or pumped Up to 4 hours Up to 4 days Within 6 months is best. Up to 12 months is acceptable.
Thawed, previously frozen 1 to 2 hours Up to 1 day (24 hours) Never refreeze human milk after it has been thawed.
Left over from a feeding (baby did not finish the bottle) Use within 2 hours after the baby is finished feeding Use within 2 hours Use within 2 hours

Adapted from "ABM Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants," Revised 2017.

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