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Breastfeeding

Last Reviewed: August 11 2016

Six Weeks to Six Months

Storing breast milk

Containers:

    The latch
  • Use glass containers for expressed breast milk, especially for long-term storage, as fewer antibodies are lost during freezing.  Use hard plastic containers or specially designed breast milk freezer bags if glass containers are not available.
  • Ensure containers are airtight when closed.
  • Avoid disposable bottle liner bags as they tear easily and are not airtight.
  • Wash containers in hot soapy water and rinse well with hot water.  Let the containers air dry.  It is not necessary to sterilize the container.

NOTE: If your baby is premature (born too early) or is in the hospital, speak to a health-care provider who has breastfeeding expertise about cleaning containers to store breast milk.

Storage guidelines:

  • Store breast milk in 60-120ml amounts to prevent wasting milk.
  • Always cool freshly expressed milk before adding it to already cooled or frozen milk.  The amount of cooled milk added should be less than the amount of frozen milk. 
  • Leave a 1” space at the top of container since expressed breast milk expands when frozen.
  • Do not refreeze breast milk once it has thawed.
  • Label the container with the date the breast milk was expressed.  After the storage time has passed, discard the milk.
  • Place containers of milk at the back of the fridge or freezer where it is the coldest.

The following guidelines apply to mothers who have a healthy, full-term baby and are storing their expressed breast milk for home use.

PlaceTemperatureStorage Time
Room Temperature ≤ 25°C 6 - 8 hours
Fridge
In refrigerator
≤4°C 5 days
Fridge
Freezer compartment (with separate door)
-18°C 3 to 6 months
Deep freezer
Fridge
-20°C 6 to 12 months
Previously frozen breast milk (in the refrigerator) ≤ 4°C 24 hours
Insulated cooler with ice pack   24 hours



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Revised: Tuesday August 16 2016

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