How Should I Store and Warm My Breast Milk?

I'm ready to start pumping. What are the breast milk storage and prep guidelines?
save article
profile picture of Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA
By Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Specialist
Updated March 2, 2017
Hero Image

The right way to store your breast milk depends on what works best for your schedule. If you have to return to the workplace and plan on having a large supply you’ll want to keep for a long time, you may want to freeze some. But if you work from home and only need a little bit at a time, you could store it in the fridge. According to lactation consultant Nancy Mohrbacher, the longest you can store breast milk, using different methods, is:

• Freezer: 3 to 4 months
• Refrigerator: 8 days
• Cooler with ice packs: 24 hours
• Room temperature: 4 to 10 hours

Once the milk is thawed, there’s a limited time frame for feeding it to baby. If thawed in the fridge, it can be stored there for 24 hours, or at room temperature for four hours. If it’s been thawed and warmed, it can be stored in the fridge for four hours.

It’s also important to warm baby’s milk correctly! As easy as it may be, don’t use the stove top or microwave to heat breast milk, since both can change the milk’s antibody and nutritional makeup. The recommended way to warm it is to run warm water over the sides of the bottle — keeping the water away from the nipple or lid so it doesn’t mix with the milk. The best way to do this is to put the bottle in a bowl with sides lower than the bottle’s top, and run the warm water directly into the bowl. Breast milk is ready for baby when it’s between room and body temperature.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
Related Video

Next on Your Reading List

Article removed.
Name added. View Your List