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    Home ›› How to store breast milk: Your guide to safe breast milk storage

    Home ›› How to store breast milk: Your guide to safe breast milk storage

    How to store breast milk: Your guide to safe breast milk storage


    Reading time: 7 mins


    Breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of an infant’s life1, which is a long time to be available to breastfeed on demand. That’s why pumping and storing breastmilk in advance is a convenient alternative, letting you feed your baby with breastmilk easily from a bottle.


    In this article we will explore the answers to top questions from ‘how long does breast milk last in the fridge?’ to how to warm breast milk up, and we’ll give you all the tips you need to understand how to store breast milk safely.

    Dauer: 5 Min.

    How to store breast milk hygienically after expressing


    Before we explore answers to your burning questions such as ‘how long does breast milk last?’, there are a few things that should be considered when expressing and storing breast milk so as not to waste valuable milk. Here are a few top tips for correctly storing breastmilk:


    • The milk must be correctly stored immediately after clean pumping.
    • Use specially designed breast milk storage containers to store breast milk.
    • Wash these containers thoroughly before pouring in the milk.


    Now read on to discover answers to FAQs including ‘how long can breast milk last in the fridge?’ and more.

    How long does breast milk last?


    To ensure your breast milk has a long shelf life it should be sealed in a sterilised airtight container, clean breast milk bottle or equivalent BPA-free breast milk bags immediately after pumping and refrigerated at a consistent temperature. How long it lasts depends on where it is stored.


    So how long can you store breast milk? Our breast milk storage guidance is as follows:


    • Breast milk in the refrigerator: up to 8 days at 4°C or lower, or up to 3 days in a fridge above 4°C2. Store it in the back of the fridge, not in the door.
    • Breast milk freezer storage: up to 6 months, as long as it is stored in fully sterilised bottles and the freezer’s temperature is -18°C or lower2.
    • Breast milk at room temperature: up to 6 hours3.


    Tip: Remember that the shelf life of breast milk also depends on whether it has been refrigerated evenly, so it shouldn’t be left to stand before cooling. If you plan to freeze or refrigerate breast milk, you should do so as soon as possible after pumping.

    How to store breast milk safely


    Knowing the answer to ‘how long can breast milk last in the fridge or freezer?’ is only part of safe breast milk storage. Here are some more tips to help make sure your expressed breast milk stays fresh.


    • Label your containers. Whether you store breast milk in the fridge or freezer, add an expiration date to your bags or containers, and always use the oldest milk first to avoid wastage.
    • Don’t be afraid to use the same breast milk storage container. Small amounts of expressed milk can be added to the same refrigerated container, provided the added milk has been previously chilled in the refrigerator. Milk at body temperature should not be added to milk that has already been chilled.
    • Breast milk should be kept in the coldest part of the fridge. You should store the breast milk at the back on the shelf above the crisper. The refrigerator door, where the temperature is less constant, is not suitable.

    What you need

    Storing breastmilk for someone else


    So now you know the answer to ‘how long does breast milk last in the fridge?’, but what if you’re not at home? Occasionally you may need to know how to store breast milk after pumping so you can take milk with you or give it to someone else. This is especially true if you plan to return to work after maternity leave.


    For these occasions, keep an insulated cooler bag ready to store breast milk. Once it’s been cooled in the fridge, breast milk can be carried in a cooler bag for up to 24 hours, provided that the bag also contains ice packs2.

    Tips on expressing breast milk for storage


    We recommend that you start expressing a few days before you need to. This way, you will build up a small stash in your freezer, give yourself time to become confident at expressing, and allow your baby to get the hang of drinking from a bottle.


    If you’re struggling to express enough milk, you can stimulate your milk supply simply by expressing, feeding or pumping more often, or by expressing after feeds to ensure that all the milk is drained. The more milk you use, the more you’ll produce.


    On the other hand, you may find that your breasts slip into overproduction if you express too often. You can prevent this from happening by only expressing enough milk to soften your areola and no more.


    It’s also important to look after yourself if you want to keep your milk flowing smoothly. Eat well, stay hydrated, and try to find the time to rest and do things you enjoy. Taking a moment to relax can benefit both you and your baby.


    Tip: We can offer information and suggestions, but our advice isn’t a substitute for the expertise of a healthcare professional. If your concerns about milk underproduction or overproduction last for more than a few days, speak to your doctor.


    Check out our article for more tips on expressing milk.

    What is the ideal temperature for bottled breast milk after storage?


    We’ve explored answers to ‘how long can you store breast milk?’ and more, but what do you do with breast milk after freezer storage or fridge storage? Here are a few tips to help you get a bottle ready for your baby after storing breastmilk:


    • Breast milk should be warmed to room to body temperature, although some babies prefer milk that is slightly cooler.
    • The easiest way to warm up milk is with a baby bottle warmer. With a bottle warmer, you can gently thaw the milk and/or heat it quickly and evenly, which preserves the quality of the milk.


    Tip: Depending on whether you’ve had your breast milk in freezer storage or fridge storage, it will require different amounts of time to warm, but don’t rush the process. Microwaves are not recommended as they often heat the milk erratically and can destroy important ingredients. In addition, individual hot spots can develop where your little one can burn their mouth2.


    Frozen milk can be thawed in the baby bottle warmer (which preserves the milk's quality), in the refrigerator, under running water, or in a bowl of warm water.


    Tip: Once thawed, you should not refreeze the milk. If there is any milk left over after feeding, it must be discarded.


    If you don't have a baby bottle warmer handy, you can warm up the milk in a bowl of warm water. Test the temperature of the contents of the bottle on your skin before feeding it to your little one.


    Tip: If you are still looking for a suitable bottle for your baby, then try the Philips Avent Natural Response baby bottle. Its Natural Response Teat responds like an actual breast, only releasing milk when the baby actually drinks, which allows your baby to keep to the natural rhythm they’re used to on the breast.


    So, whether you wanted to know how to store breast milk after pumping or answers to questions such as ‘how long can you store breast milk?’, this guide has you covered. From now on you’ll be able to safely pump, store and use your breast milk with ease.

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