Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

Are they any “rules” for keeping my breast milk fresh and safe for baby?

There are guidelines set by the North American Milk Bank Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics that will help you determine how healthy your pumped milk is and how long it can be safely used to feed your baby.

 Freshly Pumped Milk

  • Can sit out on a counter for 2-6 hours. If it is sitting out at any time, make sure you don’t leave it exposed to heat. Once you know you are not going to use it, you will need to place it in the fridge or the freezer.
  • Pumped milk that has been in the fridge should be used within one week from the original pump date or it should be placed in the freezer.
  • If you are feeding your baby a bottle of pumped milk, try not to offer more than the baby would normally take. By offering less, you can always add more milk as so you don’t end up wasting any of your “liquid gold.”
  • If your baby does not finish the bottle, take the nipple off, place a clean bottle cover on and put it back in the fridge to use within 24 hours. When ready to use again, you will want to gently take the chill off but not over warm it.
    • Let the milk baggie or bottle sit in tepid water for 5 minutes.
    • Swish it around (do not shake) and feed it to the baby.
    • Left over milk from this feeding will need to be tossed out.


Frozen Milk

  • Can be defrosted:
    • Over night in the fridge.
    • Warmed in a tepid water bath.
    • Warmed and defrosted in a baby bottle warmer.
  • Once defrosted, pre-frozen milk needs to be used or disposed of within 24 hours.
  • Mix milk that you have pumped over a 24 hour period together to make the amount you want to save in the freezer bags or bottles.
  • Try to freeze milk in various amounts, as your baby needs different amounts of milk at different times of the day. For example, freeze breast milk in 2 ounce, 3 ounce and 4 ounce portions.
  • Do not add warm milk or freshly pumped milk to cold milk. Cool your new pumped milk in a dish of cool water for 2-5 minutes and then add it to the milk that is in the fridge.
  • Keep your milk in a safe place in the fridge or freezer.
    • Do not put your milk in the door of the fridge or freezer. Milk in the door will be exposed to changes in temperature as you open and close it throughout the day. The ideal location is in the middle of the fridge or freezer towards the back.
    • Try to keep your storage baggies or bottles in a plastic container or large gallon size bag. This will prevent them from absorbing odors from other foods and can help prevent freezer burn.


Still feeling anxious about how to properly pump and save your milk? Get in touch with one of the lactation consultants on our team for more personalized support today.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *