Breast Milk Storage

In response to some questions on our Facebook page, as well as to some other inquiries we’ve gotten in our offices, I wanted to share some information on the handling, storage, and safety of breast milk.

Current guidelines for handling and storage of breast milk vary among different authorities. The best researched, most scientifically valid are the guidelines put out by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. I include their guidelines below.

However, all authorities agree that once the baby puts his or her mouth to the bottle and drunk part of the milk, the rest must be discarded.

This is because the bacteria in the baby’s mouth have most likely contaminated the remaining milk in the bottle. The contamination will worsen as times goes on.

One way of avoiding wasting breast milk (some call it liquid gold), is to store it in very small quantities, either 1-2oz, depending on what your baby usually takes. That way, if he or she doesn’t finish a bottle, you’re wasting only a very small amount.

Here are the ABM guidelines:

Room Temperature

 3-4 hours optimal; 6-8 hours under very clean conditions

Refrigerator

 72 hours optimal; 5-8 days under very clean conditions

Freezer

6 months optimal; 12 months under very clean conditions.

We hope this helps provide some helpful information for all our breastfeeding Moms and families. As always, please let us know if you have any questions.

Dr. Nancy Brent is a former Kids Plus Provider and former Medical Director of our Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh.