How To Store and Thaw Breast Milk
If you’re producing more than you need to feed your little one, you may look to storing and freezing your newfound liquid gold. Read ahead as you’ll find valuable, key information on how to go about it correctly and ultimately safely.
Remember the 4-4-6 Rule! Freshly expressed milk can be stored for four hours at room temperature, four days in the fridge and six months in a freezer. Be sure to always store it in the back of the fridge or freezer, where it remains the coldest. Storing your breast milk correctly will guarantee key nutrients are saved for your little one.
What Do I Use to Store It?
Before you do anything, it’s best to wash your hands and the containers you’re planning on using for storage. You’ll need to use a freshly washed, food-grade approved glass container or hard plastic container that’s BPA-free. Keep in mind, it’s best to use plastic bags designed specifically for the collection and storage of breast milk — you can find these at your local grocery store or online.
How Do I Store It?
Now you have extra breast milk (so exciting!), clean hands and storage supplies, you’re ready to safely freeze your liquid gold. Label each bag with the date you expressed the milk using waterproof labels and ink. If your little one attends a childcare center, be sure to put their name on the bag as well. Fill each bag with an amount that reflects the average amount they consume in one feeding. Be sure to leave some additional space in the container as your breast milk will expand as it freezes. We also suggest storing a few bags of smaller portions — one to two ounces for unforeseen situations that can happen between regular feedings. Pro Mom tip: always have extra everything.
How Do I Thaw It?
When you‘re ready to use your frozen supply, thaw the oldest milk first. Never use the microwave for thawing. Place the frozen container in the refrigerator overnight so it'll be ready in the morning. Another option is to place it under warm — not hot — running water or in a bowl of warm water. The key is to be patient; we know it’s difficult when your little one is fussing and ready to eat, but necessary for thawing breast milk safely.
Once thawed, do not refreeze it. Swirl the milk around, but don’t shake it — this mixes any fat that separated during storage. Use thawed milk within 24 hours, otherwise, discard it. When your little one is done and the milk has become room temp, throw it away after two hours.
What Temperature Should Thawed Milk Be?
Your little one will let you know their preference. Tune in to how they react to different options — warm or cold — you will know what’s to their liking. They may be tiny, but they’re never afraid to voice their opinions!
Relax and enjoy time with your little one, you deserve it knowing you’ve researched all the best possible ways to provide them with a safe, healthy experience.
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