For breastfeeding mothers, pumping and storing breast milk has become their daily routine. Yet, not everyone knows exactly how to preserve it properly.
Keeping and freezing breast milk is not difficult. The key is to have a clear plan. If you have an idea of organizing breast milk in the freezer, you can save your time and effort.
If you still don’t have any ideas, don’t worry. This article will show you the best ways to store frozen breast milk.
What Are The Rules For Storing Breast Milk?
Every mother wants the best for her baby. So, before you develop any of these breast milk storage ideas, follow CDC guidelines. Following this rule will ensure that the nutrients in breast milk are preserved and safe for the baby’s health.
You can safely store freshly expressed or pumped milk for the following period:
- The shelf life lasts up to 4 hours if the milk is placed at the countertop or room temperature (60 – 77°F).
- The shelf life is up to 4 days if refrigerated (40°F).
- The shelf life is six months to 1 year if stored in the freezer (0°F or colder).
With thawed milk, your baby should only drink it within 24 hours if refrigerated or 2 hours at room temperature.
At the same time, you must not reuse leftover milk after 2 hours of feeding. It is because bacteria from the air or the baby’s mouth can get into the milk. To avoid waste, measure the correct volume of milk for each feeding.
Breast Milk Freezer Storage Ideas
Before storing breast milk in the freezer, you must ensure some hygiene steps to prevent bacteria from entering the solution. The best way is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap. If you don’t have soap and water, a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a perfect alternative.
Pumping and using bottles to store breast milk can take up a lot of space in your refrigerator or freezer. So, consider using storage bags instead of a bottle to free up storage space. It’s also handy to sort the bags by date, so you don’t get confused.
If you are a first-time mother and are looking for a smart way to store breast milk, check out the methods below.
1. Take Up A Dedicated Storage Drawer
Take advantage of the drawers in your refrigerator or freezer to store breast milk. The reason is that it makes accessing and using breastmilk much easier.
You can divide the drawer into zones sorted by volume or date. Also, take advantage of an empty box or shelf to organize storage bags neatly next to each other.
2. Reuse Gift Bags Or Zippered Freezer Bags
You can either pour your milk or inject it directly into the storage bag. Don’t forget to mark the date and pump capacity again after sealing the bag.
This marking is extremely important because human memory can easily fool us. To make sure breast milk is used safely and within the shelf life, you need to record the time carefully.
- If storing in the refrigerator: Place milk storage bags upright in a large aluminum freezer bag with a zipper.
- If storing in the freezer: Flatten milk storage bags in the freezer. Then, straighten them in large zip-lock freezer bags when frozen.
Large, gallon-sized zipper freezers are the standard milk storage product. However, many mothers feel that they take up a lot of space when arranged side by side.
Instead, you can take advantage of cute and colorful gift bags. To easily move them to the freezer when needed, cut a small section of the side panel.
For bags of milk that need to be picked up early, put them at the bottom to make them easier to pull out.
3. Use A Diaper Or Empty Soda Box
You can even reuse an empty diaper box or an empty 12-can soft drink box. Don’t worry because any parent will have many of these boxes in the house.
You can also make use of boxes, shelves, or plastic bins. Stores like Dollar General, Staples, Target, or The Container Store have plenty of little packages that fit in the fridge or freezer.
Storing breast milk in boxes and cans in the freezer and refrigerator is very simple.
- Place the milk storage bags in the soft drink box vertically if stored in the refrigerator. Take off the top and arrange the dates and notes as you like.
- If stored in the freezer, you can keep the milk storage bags flat and wait until they freeze. Then, stand the bags vertically to arrange them in order.
Tips for Organizing Breastmilk In Deep Freezer
Once the breastmilk is completely frozen, many parents wonder how to organize these milk bags to save maximum space. The most effective method of arranging storage bags is to stack them on top or bottom, left or right.
When frozen, the storage bags will be heavier at the bottom. So, you should alternate the two ends on a box to put them more.
Let’s check the following section to discover more organizing tips:
1. Label The Bag
When you want to store breastmilk, the first important thing is to mark the bags. Label it with the date, capacity (oz or ml), and any additional information you desire.
Some parents also write down the baby’s name if they send them to child care centers. Others make notes about the baby’s symptoms and conditions. They believe it will make sense in the future if the baby experiences similar problems.
2. Freeze Flat
You should keep the storage bags flat when organizing frozen breast milk. This simple action will maximize the amount of solution in the freezer for the neater organization later.
Some people also put milk in a Tupperware container, takeout container, or cookie sheet to freeze. There are many alternatives you can choose from besides storage bags.
3. Kiinde System
Kiinde is a pumping and feeding system that allows the user to pump breast milk directly into a bag for later freezing.
When it’s time to use milk, you can even feed your baby directly using a bottle with a direct screw attachment.
Using this system is extremely easy. Attach your pump components to the Kiinde bag using the adapter. It allows you to pump milk normally.
Twist the top of the bags to store them when they’re full, and simply defrost and warm the milk when you’re ready to use.
Discover the answers here if you have any questions:
Can You Put Breast Milk Back In The Fridge After Baby Drinks From It?
You should not store or repack unfinished breast milk in the freezer.
When a baby drinks milk, bacteria from the mouth and air have had a chance to come into contact with the milk. They will continue to grow and cause the milk to spoil, mold, or become rancid.
If your baby has not finished the milk, you can only use the remaining part within 2 hours. After that time, it’s better to throw them away because of the health risks. Instead of dumping them, you can still use the expired milk to make other valuable things like jewelry, soap, etc.
How Much Breast Milk Should You Freeze Per Bag?
When freezing breast milk for storage, you need to divide it into separate bags and into portions to use each time.
You should start with the standard milk level is 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 120 milliliters) and adjust accordingly. This storage is because the smaller the volume required, the less defrost time is needed.
In addition, this milk level is similar to the average intake that an infant needs while breastfeeding. You can also consider stocking up on smaller bags of 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 milliliters). They will be useful for late meals or unexpected situations.
One trick when freezing breast milk is to leave some space in the container as the liquid will expand. You should not fill bags with more than 5 ounces (150 ml) of milk and only fill bottles to ¾.
Can You Refrigerate Breast Milk Before Freezing?
You should freeze breast milk as soon as possible after expressing it. You can also mix this solution with a frozen solution, as long as you have cooled the milk in the refrigerator before. You’re better off not putting body-temperature milk in previously frozen milk.
The best place to store your milk is in the back of the freezer, not the door. Their shelf life in each case will be:
- If the freezer is a deep freezer with a temperature of −4°F or −20°C, you can freeze the milk for 12 months.
- If you use a separate door refrigerator with a freezer at 0°F or −18°C, you can freeze the milk for 9 months.
Can Babies Drink Cold Breast Milk From The Fridge?
If babies are breastfed directly, they will receive milk from the breast at the same temperature as their body temperature.
Conversely, babies who are bottle-fed or formula-fed will be able to drink milk that is at room temperature, slightly warmed, or freshly taken from the refrigerator.
You can give your baby cold milk if he likes it. They won’t cause any side effects or stomach upset. Many mothers believe that cold milk will contain a lot of gas, which affects the digestive system of children. However, this belief is unfounded.
Does Freezing Breast Milk Destroy Antibodies?
The preservation of breast milk is extremely difficult because of its antibacterial properties. Therefore, the frozen milk will be of much better quality than that stored in the refrigerator.
The first benefit is that this frozen milk does not lose its anti-infective properties. They also offer more resistance to allergies and illnesses than formula milk.
You can store this milk in the freezer and still retain most nutrients. However, the concentration of calories, fat, and carbohydrates will decrease markedly after three months.
Can You Mix Frozen Breast Milk From Different Days?
It is better not to mix cooled or frozen breastmilk with freshly expressed milk as it will warm the older stored solution.
If you still want to combine the solutions, chill the freshly expressed milk first to maintain a constant temperature. The key is to check the instructions on how long to store milk.
Now you know how to effectively store and organize your breast milk in the freezer. Depending on your situation, you can apply different methods. You should take advantage of what is available at your home to save money.
If our tutorials were helpful, don’t forget to share them with your other loved ones.