How Do I Safely Store Breast Milk?

pumped breast milk in refrigerator

Many women find that pumping their breast milk makes it much easier to feed their newborns. This reduces stress on the mom and offers a chance for the dad or other loved ones to help out with feedings. However, it’s common for new parents to be unaware of what they need to do to ensure the milk is stored properly and is safe for baby to eat. If you’re wondering the same thing, read on.


Many breast pumps come with special milk storage bags that you can fill and place in the fridge. These do have the potential to tear during travel, so avoid stashing them in diaper bags and other places where they may be damaged. You can store breast milk in any clean, sanitary container that has a lid. Glass or hard plastic that is BPA-free are the safest. Always close the lid tightly and label when the milk was pumped. This way, you prevent anyone from accidentally drinking it because they didn’t realize what it was and you know what order to use the stored milk in to promote freshness. Also add your baby’s name to the container if he or she will be going to a childcare provider.

Refrigerate or freeze the milk

The Mayo Clinic wrote that breast milk should be stored in the back of the refrigerator or in the freezer for later use. Since liquids expand when they freeze, leave ample room in the breast-milk container so it can expand without exploding. Consider storing the milk in 2- to 4-ounce portions, as these are typically akin to how much an infant will drink in a feeding. Frozen milk lasts between two and four weeks. Refrigerated breast milk is good for up to five days with a properly closed lid.

“Do not thaw breast milk in the microwave.”

Thawing the milk

Do not use the microwave to thaw breast milk that has been stored in the freezer. Instead, place the container in a bath of cool water. Slowly increase the water temperature to warm and then hot. Once thawed, add the breast milk to an infant bottle. Always check the milk temperature on the inside of your wrist so you know if it is too hot and may scald your infant. In this case, wait until the bottle cools.

Manual breast pump and mother feeding at background, mothers breast milk is the most healthy food for newborn baby
Always check the milk temperature on the inside of your wrist so you know if it is too hot.

Traveling with breast milk

Baby Centre shared that breast milk is edible at room temperature of no more than 25 degrees Celsius for up to six hours. If you are headed to the airport, for example, this is important to note. You may increase this storage time up to 24 hours by placing the breast milk in a cool box with ice packs. According to the Transportation Security Administration, TSA agents will inspect and approve of breast milk that is 3.4 ounces or less. Your cooler bag will be X-rayed to ensure that it does not contain any prohibited items. Ice packs are also allowed on and may go through extra screenings. You don’t have to travel with your child to bring breast milk – a fact that is important to note if you are pumping while away from the infant.