Mother and Baby

How to store breast milk

Section: Feeding
how to store breast milk

When you've spent so long expressing your breast milk, you want to preserve every single precious drop for your baby. And the main way of doing this is by pumping and storing breastmilk, whether that's refrigerated or frozen.

The benefits of storing breast milk

  • So your partner can help with feeds.
  • If you're unable to breastfeed because you're at work or otherwise engaged.
  • To relieve the pressure of sore breasts and nipples.
  • If you're power pumping to boost your milk supply.
  • If your baby is struggling with latching but you would like to feed your baby with breast milk.

Can you freeze breast milk?

If you want to keep your breast milk for longer, you can freeze it for up to six months but you must use it up within 24 hours after defrosting.

How to store breast milk

It's quick and simple to store your freshly expressed breast milk. Here's what to do for safe storage...

1. Wash your hands before handling the breast milk.

2. Pour your milk in sealed and sterilised bottles or bags. If you’re going to freeze the milk, leave a couple of centimetres of air space at the top as the liquid will expand when frozen.

3. Store the milk in small amounts so as to avoid waste. This will mean it will warm or thaw quickly.

4. Label and date your milk with the date and time that you expressed the milk.

5. After ensuring it is secure, pop the milk in your fridge or freezer.

How long can you store breast milk?

Don’t worry if you’re out and about as your expressed breast milk is fine to stay at room temperature for about six hours. However, any longer and it needs to be in a fridge.

Your milk can be stored in the fridge for up to five days at 4C or lower or for two weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge. You can buy a fridge thermometer from a kitchen shop if you are unsure of the temperature.

Use the oldest stored breast milk first providing it is still within its use-by limit.

Defrosting frozen breast milk

When it's time to defrost your breast milk, you ideally want to do it slowly in the fridge which could take up to 12 hours. However, if you do need to use it immediately, you can defrost it by popping it in a jug of warm water or by holding it under warm running water.

Once the milk is defrosted, give it a gentle shake if it has separated and use this straight away. Do not re-freeze milk that has been defrosted.

The best breast milk storage

Super easy when it comes to transporting and pouring, these leak-proof bags have secure seals and standing bases so there's no need to worry about losing any of your milk. You get 30 bags in each box. 

Bronze winner of the Best Product for Breastfeeding (excluding breast pumps) for the 2020 Mother&Baby Awards. Read our full review.

Specially designed so that your breast milk can safely be stored in both the fridge or freezer, these bags are BPA and BPS free so no harmful substances can contaminate your stored breast milk. Plus you can now pump directly into the bag using any Lansinoh breast pump. There are 50 bags in each box. 

Bronze winner of Best Product for Breastfeeding (excluding breast pumps) in the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards. Read our full review. 

Each of these ASDA storage bags is sterilised and has a stable base, allowing you to stand it upright. They also have a double seal so there is no worrying about any leakage. At just £4 we love the price too. 

Shortlisted for Best Bottle Feeding Product in the 2022 Mother&Baby Awards. Read our full review. 

This set of four 2 oz mini pots are stackable, dishwasher-proof, microwaveable and suitable for freezing. The pots can sit in the neck of the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottle while breast milk is transferred through a breast pump.

  • Author: Emily Thorpe Emily Thorpe
  • Job Title: Digital Writer

Having written for Mother&Baby magazine for four years where she wrote news, product pages, features and interviewed celebrities such as Paloma Faith and Fearne Cotton, Emily now works as Digital Writer for Mother&Baby online where she specialises in travel and product reviews. 


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