Breast Milk Storage and Thawing: Do’s and Don’ts

Breast milk bottle

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You may not always be there for your baby whenever they need to feed, especially if you are a working mom. That is why you need to consider breast milk storage and thawing options to ensure your kid is properly fed even when you are not around or when you are not in a position to feed them naturally.

If you are quite busy and rarely have time to feed your lovely kid, it is about time you consider using a breast pump. A breast pump sucks milk to be fed to the baby from your breasts.

But wait, where is the breast milk kept after being sucked from your breasts? Do you have an appropriate storage option?

Knowing how to store breast milk for your child is very important. Therefore, if you want to know how to store and thaw breast milk effectively, this post is for you.

Stay with me.

How to Store Breast Milk   

Before handling breast milk, thoroughly wash your hands using an alcohol-based sanitizer containing 60% alcohol. When using a breast pump, you should inspect the pump kit and the tubing to ensure they are clean. If they are dirty or have been shared, you should disinfect them and wash them using soap and water.

After cleaning and expressing, you can use breast milk storage bags to keep the milk safe. If you do not have storage bags, you can use clean food-grade containers as an alternative.

The containers should be made from either glass or plastic material and have airtight fitting lids. After that, ensure you clearly label the container with the name and the date you kept the milk in the container for accuracy.

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How Long Frozen Milk Stays


You should store freshly pumped breast milk at a room temperature of about 77degrees F or cooler for about four hours.

Storing it in a fridge or freezer where you can control the temperatures is safer. If you do not have a fridge or a freezer, you can temporarily place them in an insulated bag with ice packs, but you will have to keep adding ice packs from time to time to maintain the cool temperatures.

When you store the breast milk in a fridge, ensure you place it in the coolest part and set the temperatures to about 77degrees F and below. At these temperatures, the milk is guaranteed to preserve its freshness for up to four days maximum.

The milk can preserve its freshness for six to 12 months when stored in the freezer.


Note that at room temperature, if there is a slight rise in temperatures above 77degrees F, the milk can easily go bad after a few hours. Therefore do not let the temperature go above 77degrees F.

You should not also fill the milk to the brim because when it freezes, it expands.  You should also not store the milk on the freezer door as there will be a constant temperature change every time the door is open.

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The Recommended Way to Thaw Breast Milk

Since the breast milk quality can decrease over time, always ensure you thaw the oldest stored breast milk. You can use the dates labeled on the container to recognize the oldest milk.


You can use various ways to thaw your breast milk to preserve its fresh state. You can place the container under lukewarm running water, in a container with warm water, or leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

The most recommended way of thawing is using the refrigerator because the milk gets to thaw uniformly in time. For the other two methods, you will have to maintain the water at a warm or lukewarm state to achieve a uniform thawing state, although it may take longer.


However, it would be best never to thaw breast milk using a microwave. This is because microwaving destroys nutrients in the milk and can create hot spots that can burn the baby’s mouth.

You should also never refreeze breast milk that has thawed. Refreezing makes the milk lose its natural taste, and it will lose the minerals required by the baby.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the right way to store breast milk?

The right way to store breast milk is by placing it in milk storage bags that have airtight covers.

How long does frozen breast milk keep?

Frozen breast milk can last up to 12 months when stored properly in a freezer.

What is the recommended way to thaw breast milk?

The most recommended way of thawing breast milk is by using a refrigerator. A refrigerator thaws the breast milk uniformly, unlike other means of thawing.

How long is breast milk good after thawing?

Using a refrigerator to thaw breast milk can last up to 24 hours after it has completely thawed. When using warm or lukewarm water, the milk should be safe for drinking within the first two hours.

How to tell if you should not use stored breast milk

If stored breast milk tastes rancid or sour, it has likely gone sour and should not be fed to your baby.

Wrap Up

Suppose you are a working mother; the above topic suits you perfectly. The post above talks about breast milk storage and thawing processes.

If you store your breast milk for future use, your baby will not miss having nutritious milk when left with a guardian; hence you will have more time to run your errands. I hope your storage and thawing methods will improve.

I wish you nothing but the best for you and your kid.

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Jennifer Rock

Jennifer Rock

When I gave birth to my first boy, I was breast feeding so I didn't know about bottle warmers but with my 2nd birth I couldn't so I learned all there is to know about bottle warmers (and this gave my partner the chance to pitch in too).