Breast milk storage: Do's and don'ts


As a breastfeeding mother who has to return to work after confinement, you would often use breast pumps to express breast milk, so it's important to know how to safely store your expressed milk. Here are some do’s and don'ts about breast milk storage:

First, wash your hands with soap and water before expressing or handling breast milk, then store expressed breast milk in a clean, capped food-grade glass container, chemical-free (BPA Free) hard plastic container, or plastic bags specially designed for collecting and storing breast milk, but do not store breast milk in single-use plastic bags designed for general household use.

Next, label the container with the date the breast milk was expressed and your baby's name. Put the container in the back of the refrigerator or freezer, where the temperature is the coolest. If you don't have a refrigerator or freezer, temporarily store breast milk in an insulated freezer with ice packs.

Fill the container with the amount of milk your baby needs for each feeding, starting with 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 120 ml) and adjusting as needed. You may also consider saving smaller servings—1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 milliliters) for emergencies. Breast milk expands when it freezes, so don't overfill the container.

When adding freshly expressed breast milk to refrigerated or frozen breast milk, first cool it thoroughly in the refrigerator or in a cooler with ice packs. Do not add warm breast milk to frozen breast milk, as this will cause the frozen breast milk to partially thaw.

How long you can keep expressed breast milk depends on the storage method. In general, freshly expressed breast milk can be kept at room temperature for up to 6 hours, but it is best to drink it or properly store it within 4 hours. Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in an insulated freezer with ice packs for up to a day.

Proper storage of breast milk ensures that your baby gets the best nutrition and avoids wastage. Here's what to do and what to avoid when storing breast milk to ensure your breast milk remains fresh and safe to be consumed:


  • Use a clean storage container, preferably a glass or hard plastic bottle with an airtight lid.
  • Labeling breast milk, including date and time of storage, helps you choose the oldest container first when needed.
  • When storing breast milk in the fridge or freezer, make sure they are in the back or middle to ensure consistent temperature and prevent it from freezing.
  • Before using stored breast milk, thaw it slowly in warm water or in the refrigerator.
  • Store breast milk in small quantities to help reduce wastage and ensure that fresh breast milk is used.


  • Do not store breast milk in breakable containers and containers that are not clear.
  • Do not refreeze breast milk that has been thawed, as this will result in poor quality breast milk.
  • Do not store used bottles or other baby products in the refrigerator or freezer, as they can be exposed to bacteria and other harmful substances.
  • Do not place breast milk on the refrigerator door, as the opening and closing of the door will cause temperature changes and affect the quality of breast milk.
  • Do not heat up breast milk in the microwave, as this can overheat the milk and destroy its nutrients.

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