Storing Expressed Breast Milk
- Can be stored at room temperature (less than 20°C or 68°F) for 6 hours
- Expressed breast milk left at room temperature for more than 6 hours should be thrown out
Containers for Storing Breast Milk
- Use glass or hard plastic (BPA free) containers with an air-tight lid (for example, small jars and bottles with lids)
- Special breast milk freezer bags can also be used
- Do not use bottle liner bags. These are thinner plastic bags that may break when frozen
Cleaning the Containers
For healthy babies, wash containers in hot soapy water and rinse well with hot water. Let the containers air dry on a dry clean surface away from where food is made.
* If your baby is premature (born too early) or is in the hospital, speak to your nurse about storing breast milk and cleaning containers. Sterilized containers may be provided by the hospital.
Ways You Can Store Breast Milk
Freezer of a 2-Door Refrigerator
-18°C or 0°F for 6 months
≤ 4°C or 40°F for 5 days
Deep Freezer Chest or Upright
-20°C or -4°F for 12 months
- Place containers at the back of the fridge and freezer where it is the coldest
- Refrigerate or chill freshly expressed breast milk within 1 hour of expressing if you are not going to feed it to your baby within 6 hours.
After the storage time has passed, throw out the breast milk
- Label containers with date and time
- Store in smaller amounts to prevent wasting breast milk
- Always cool freshly expressed breast milk before adding it to already cooled or frozen breast milk
- Leave a 1 inch space at the top of the container when freezing
Travelling with Expressed Breast Milk
The following instructions are for fresh, refrigerated and frozen expressed breast milk.
- Carry expressed breast milk in a cooler bag with ice packs
- Make sure to use within 24 hours
- If not used within 24 hours, throw away the unused breast milk
- Warm breast milk by placing the container in a bowl of very warm water, or holding it under warm running tap water
- Frozen breast milk that has been thawed can be kept in the cooler bag with the ice pack for 24 hours
Do not refreeze breast milk once it has started to thaw.