Whether you're going back to work, planning a day trip with the grandparents, or just want to build a milk stash, breast milk storage is important to preserve the quality and nutritional value. In this blog, we'll provide you a few best practices for storing breast milk.
- Choosing the Right Containers: Quality Matters
When it comes to breast milk storage, the right containers can make a significant difference. BPA-free, food-grade containers that are designed for storing breast milk are always a safe bet especially given that they are designed to seal to prevent leaks and contamination.
- Proper Labeling and Dating: Organization is Key
Label each bag or container with the date the milk was expressed. This practice helps you prioritize older milk and prevents any mix-ups. Use waterproof labels or markers that won't smudge, ensuring clear identification of each batch. Note that some parents also like to label the bag/container with the quantity of breast milk. This can be especially helpful when you freeze your breast milk since the volume isn’t always obvious when the breast milk is frozen.
- Fresh Expressions: Timing is Everything
If you aren’t going to use your breast milk once it’s pumped, be sure to refrigerate or freeze it as soon as possible.
- Refrigeration: Chilling for Freshness
Storing breast milk in the refrigerator is a convenient option, especially for short-term storage. Keep your milk at a temperature of 32-39°F (0-4°C) to maintain its quality. Store it in the back of the refrigerator, where temperatures are most consistent, and away from the refrigerator door if possible.
- Freezing: Extending Shelf Life
Freezing breast milk is an excellent way to extend its shelf life for future use. Use a dedicated freezer compartment or a deep freezer for longer storage periods. Be sure to leave some room at the top of the container to accommodate expansion as the milk freezes. Remove all (or as much) air as possible. Air is the primary cause of freezer burn which can make your milk taste bad.
- Thawing and Warming: Gentle Methods
When it's time to use stored breast milk, avoid microwaving or warming on the stove top, as it can create hot spots that damage valuable nutrients. Instead, thaw frozen milk by placing the container in the refrigerator or thawing it with a bottle warmer. Shameless plug as usual, the BisbeeBaby Keddle is the only portable bottle warmer that can defrost breast milk bags on the go. It’s actually the only portable warmer that can warm breast milk bags anywhere.
- Storage Guidelines: Safety First
It's essential to follow recommended storage guidelines to ensure the safety of your baby. Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored at room temperature (up to 77°F or 25°C) for up to 4 hours, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, and in the freezer for up to 6-12 months, depending on the type of freezer. Always reference the CDC or FDA website for up-to-date guidance on storage guidelines.
Storing breast milk safely and effectively is a skill every breastfeeding mother can master. By following these expert tips and techniques, you can confidently build a stash of nutritious breast milk to nourish your baby whenever the need arises. Remember that proper storage practices play a crucial role in preserving the quality, flavor, and health benefits of your breast milk, ensuring your little one receives the best even when you're not there.