Breast Milk Storage 101

Updated: May 14


How do you protect liquid gold? With something as valuable and important to your baby's health as your breastmilk, it's important to ensure proper storage. Human milk is a fresh, living food with many antioxidant, antibacterial, prebiotic, probiotic, and immune-boosting properties, in addition to nutrients. Proper handling and storage will give you peace of mind that your baby is receiving optimal nutrition.


When you bottle-feed your baby pumped breastmilk, it should be between room temperature and body temperature. Breastmilk should be refrigerated, chilled, or frozen in a breastmilk storage bag or food-grade container as soon as possible after expressing if you won't be feeding it fresh to your baby within a few hours. Be sure to label the container or bag with the date the milk was expressed before storing. To thaw frozen milk, keep it in the refrigerator overnight and then, when ready to feed, place it in a bowl of warm water. Always serve the oldest breastmilk first, since its quality can gradually decrease and the nutritional needs of your baby change over time.


Common sense prevails here - Wash your hands, sterilize your bottles, clean your pump parts, and throw out any milk that seems stringy or foul. Here are some more specific guidelines about milk storage:*


Fresh Milk at Room Temperature

Temperature: 60-85 degrees F

Maximum storage duration: 4 hours, up to 6-8 hours if very clean

Previously Fed Milk at Room temperature

Temperature: 60-85 degrees F

Maximum storage duration: 1-2 hours

Fresh Milk in an Insulated Cooler

Temperature: 59 degrees F

Maximum storage duration: 24 hours

Fresh Milk Stored in back of Refrigerator

Temperature: 32-39 degrees F

Maximum storage duration: 4 days, up to 5-8 days if very clean

Thawed Frozen Milk Stored in back of Refrigerator

Temperature: 32-39 degrees F

Maximum storage duration: 24 hours

Fresh Milk Stored in back of Freezer

Temperature: 24 degrees F

Maximum storage duration: 6 months, up to 12 months if stored in a separate deep freezer



* These breastmilk storage guidelines are for healthy, non-NICU, non-immunocompromised infants. Please consult your pediatrician or a lactation consultant for advice if your baby was premature, is very ill, or has a weakened immune system.


With warmth and wellness,

Your EmmaWell Team

Read more here: ABM Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants, Revised 2017.

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