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March 26, 2021 2 min read

Guide to storing and serving breast milk to help you prepare and serve healthy, nutrient-packed bottle feeds every time. 

What’s the shelf life of breast milk?

Breast milk is pretty durable provided it’s sealed in a sterilised air-tight container and chilled at a consistent temperature. How long it lasts will depend on where you store it. Here’s a quick run down:

Freshly expressed/pumped milk

  • Room temperature – up to 4 hours

  • Refrigeration – up to 5 days at 39.2F (4 C) or lower

  • Freezer (in fridge) – up to 2 weeks

  • Freezer (separate compartment) – up to 6 months

Thawed, previously frozen milk

  • Room temperature – 1-2 hours

  • Refrigeration – up to 1 day (24hours)

  • Freezer  – NEVER refreeze human milk after it has been thawed

Leftover from a Feeding (baby did not finish the bottle)

  • Use within 2 hours after the baby is finished feeding

The best way to avoid any confusion is to label all your bottles and containers with use by dates, and use the oldest milk first.

Sometimes you might need to transport milk, so be sure to use an insulated cool bag on those occasions.

What’s the best temperature to serve breast milk?
Warming breast milk means heating it to somewhere between body and room temperature, although some babies don’t mind it a little chilled.

What's the safest way to warm breast milk?

The easiest and safest way to warm milk is to use a baby bottle warmer.

Microwaving can destroy nutrients in breast milk and create hot spots, which can burn a baby's mouth; a baby bottle warmer, on the other hand, allows you to gently defrost milk and/or warm it evenly—and preserves the quality of the milk by heating it gently.

If you don’t have access to a baby bottle warmer, you can warm milk by placing it in a bowl of warm water. Be sure to test the temperature of the bottle on your skin before serving it to your little one.

How should I thaw frozen breastmilk?

Frozen milk can be thawed in a baby bottle warmer (this, again, will preserve the quality of the milk), in the fridge, under running water or in a bowl of warm water. Once it’s thawed, don’t refreeze. 

 
Sources:
Philips Avent - A quick guide to storing and serving breastmilk
www.cdc.gov - Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk


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