storing breast milk

It is important breast milk is stored properly (clean and safe) to ensure there is no bacterial growth.

  • Always wash hands and equipment with warm soapy water, rinse with hot water and air dry well or with a clean paper towel.
  • Express milk into clean sterilized containers.
  • Containers can be glass, plastic or sealable plastic bags.
  • Always label the container with the date and time the breast milk was expressed.
  • Refrigerate breast milk within one hour of expressing.
  • Store breast milk in the back of the fridge as this is the coolest place (not in the fridge door) – must be used within 3 – 5 days and thrown out if not used within this time frame.
  • Breast milk can be frozen if you have excess breast milk. It is safe to be stored in a deep freeze freezer for 6 – 12 months, or 3 months in the freezer section of a fridge with a separate door, or 2 weeks in a freezer compartment inside a fridge. This is why it is important to label the container with the date and time the breast milk was expressed.

Storage of Breast milk for home use

Breast Milk Room Temperature Refrigerator Freezer
Freshly expressed into a closed container 6-8 hrs(26°C or lower). If refrigeration is available store milk there 3-5 days (4°C or lower)Store in back of refrigerator where it is coolest 2 weeks in freezer compartment inside refrigerator. 3 months in freezer in section of refrigerator with separate door 6-12 months in a deep freezer(-18°C or lower)
Previously frozen thawed in refrigerator but not warmed 4 hours or less (i.e the next feeding) Store in refrigerator 24 hours Do not freeze
Thawed outside refrigerator in warm water For completion of water Hold for 4 hours or until next feeding Do not freeze
Infant has begun feeding Only for completion of feeding then discard Discard Discard


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