How Long Is Breast Milk Good In The Fridge? Here’s What Experts Say

How Long Is Breast Milk Good In The Fridge? Here’s What Experts Say

You don’t want to express milk whenever your baby wants to feed because pumping takes time and hard work. Fortunately, you can refrigerate it for the next use. But, how long is breast milk good in the fridge? 

You can keep the breast milk there for one to four days, depending on how fresh the milk is. With the proper storage method, it can last up to eight days. 

We will discuss the lifespan and storage methods of breast milk in detail. Let’s check and learn how to deal with it ideally! 

How Long Is Breast Milk Good In The Fridge? 

One to four days, even eight days, is the length of time that you can store breast milk in the refrigerator, depending on how fresh it is.

Refrigerating appears to be among the most common ways to store your baby’s food. The length of time it lasts in the refrigerator varies depending on the type:

Freshly pumped

Freshly expressed breast milk can remain good for about four days at the back of the fridge (39°F). 

Thawed milk (frozen previously)

The lifespan of previously frozen breast milk is shorter. It can last only one day before you have to toss it away. So, simply take what you think your child may want for the day.

Do not refreeze breast milk after you’ve thawed it once. Besides, if there are some leftovers, try to feed your baby within no more than two hours. 

When you want to warm breast milk from the fridge, place the whole bottle in warm water until it turns warmer. 

Stored breast milk naturally splits into two layers: the milk and the cream top. It appears a little odd, but it’s pretty usual and safe to stir before feeding.

Refrigerating is a good way to store breastmilk

Where Should You Store Breast Milk? 

Breast milk storage might be complicated, so you should bear in mind this rule of 4’s (four hours at ambient temperature and four days in the fridge).

Here are the four most popular places to store breast milk: 

Countertop

You can keep your baby’s food at room temperature. However, please do not leave it for too long, or you will end up throwing it away. 

  • Temperature: 77°F (room temperature) 
  • Lifespan

Breast milk kept at room temperature can remain good in the first four hours. If you are handling freshly expressed breast milk, the lifespan can be six to eight hours. 

  • Storage tips

It would be best to store human milk in different small batches. Use batches that can carry two to four ounces to avoid waste. 

If your baby can’t finish his meal at once, leave the leftovers there and serve it within two hours. Otherwise, please put it in the fridge for your next feeding. 

You can put the leftovers in the fridge 

Refrigerator

Refrigerators are user-friendly devices that most households have at hand. They work well at storing food. 

As aforementioned, this method can work for both freshly expressed breast milk and previously frozen breast milk.

  • Temperature: 39°F or lower 
  • Lifespan: One to eight days 
  • Storage tips

This breast milk storage method is quite simple. Just make sure you put the bottle at the back of your refrigerator. 

Freezer

Freezers are the best place if you want your food to last for a long time, up to one year. 

  • Temperature: 0°F or lower
  • Lifespan: up to nine months
  • Storage tips

Note that breast milk expands when it freezes. Hence, do not fill the container full. Put the containers in the back of your freezer.

To thaw frozen breast milk from the freezer, put the container in the fridge overnight first. Then, place it in warm or running water. Thawed breast milk can stay in the refrigerator, but you have to use it within 24 hours. 

Deep freezer 

This tool is similar to the standard freezer, but it’s colder. As a result, food can stay longer there while remaining fresh. 

  • Temperature: -4°F or lower
  • Lifespan: up to one year 
  • Storage tips

You can apply the same breast milk storage guidelines as the regular freezer. Make sure that you check the date carefully. 

Freezers can help food last long

How To Store Breast Milk Properly? 

Breast milk storage is essential since it affects your baby’s health directly. Please check these notes carefully to make sure you do everything correctly. 

Take notes of hygiene.

Here comes the most vital part of storing human milk: hygiene. These basic ideas can help ensure the quality of your food:

  • Wash your hands with water and soap before starting.
  • Clean the pump parts according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Clean the container with soapy, hot water and rinse it thoroughly. 

Clean the pump equipment

You have to dismantle the storage containers and breast pump kits completely. Then, clean them with soapy, hot water and air dry them. 

There is no need for sterilizing. If you can’t prepare soap, boiling water is acceptable. 

Even when storing the food at room temperature, cleaning the pump equipment is still important. 

Choose the container

You can keep breast milk in a glass and food-grade plastic boxes with close seal lids or specialized freezer bags.

However, chemicals seeping from plastic boxes into the foodstuffs or beverages they hold are a concern.

Although employing BPA-free polymers such as polypropylene is advantageous, plastics still contain several toxic chemicals.

There are two most popular breast milk storage bags you can consider: 

  • Glass bottles

Some mothers prefer glass containers to plastic ones to prevent the potential consequences of plastic. 

The glass appears to be the least harmful to human milk. If chilling glass, use specialized freezer-safe glass containers and give room to expand. 

Also, defrost frozen milk gradually overnight in the refrigerator.

Glass is the safest material to store food

If you’re going to use plastic bags, be sure they’re sturdy and mainly intended for holding expressed breast milk. 

Make sure the bags are in a sealed container that won’t get damaged by other foodstuffs. 

Leave room for expansion and press air out of the container before sealing it, much like the hard-sided boxes.

Store milk

Depending on the places for storing breast milk, the methods vary, as discussed. Yet, some tips can work for all, including:

  • Mark stored milk with the pumping date with a note. You can also add your baby’s name if you use it at childcare.
  • To avoid waste, store your baby’s food in smaller amounts equal to a usual meal, such as two to four ounces.
  • Keep the food in the coldest area of the freezer or fridge, which is generally the rear instead of the door section.
  • If mixing freshly extracted milk with already pumped one, chill the new first before mixing the two, and mark the older one’s date.
  • Freeze the expressed milk within three or four days of staying in the refrigerator.
    Keep in mind these tips for the best result

How To Warm Breast Milk? 

When you want to use frozen breast milk, first warm it up by following these steps.

Microwaving breast milk is not advisable. It can damage nutrition and induce hotspots in your child’s mouth, causing discomfort.

Defrosting

You should thaw the oldest frozen milk first. Here are three safe methods to defrost it: 

  • Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  • Use warm water in a container
  • Let the warm water run on the bottle 

You can learn more tips for defrosting frozen dairy from this video. 

You can allow the lukewarm water to run smoothly on the bottle

Warming

You can feed your child room-temperature milk or perhaps even a cold one from the fridge, and many newborns like it that way. 

If you want to reheat thawed breast milk, though, follow these instructions:

  • Put the bottle in warm water for a while. You can also run warm tap water over the bottle for less than 20 minutes.
  • Before feeding your child, gently shake the thawed milk bottle to equalize the temperature. 
  • Test some drops on your hands. 
  • Shake again to distribute the fat, which may separate during storage time.

    Remember to test before feeding your baby

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are some frequently asked questions about storing breast milk. Let’s check them out to learn more valuable tips. 

1. How long is breastmilk good after being taken out of the fridge?

Expressed milk can stay at room temperature for about four to six hours if it stays unrefrigerated but in hygienic, sealed containers.

You should chill or refrigerate it right after expressing it. If it stays at room temperature for more than six hours, you’d better throw it away. 

2. How do you know when breast milk goes bad in the fridge?

It won’t taste quite like cow’s milk, but any taste that isn’t rancid and sour is OK.

If your expressed breast milk has turned bad after being kept in the fridge and tasting sour, do not feed it to your baby.

3. Can you refrigerate breast milk twice?

Do not re-refrigerate stored breast milk. Once you’ve taken it out of the refrigerator or warmed it and left it at room temperature, use it within two hours. 

It’s not a good idea to reuse human milk. Bacteria can grow if you leave it for too long. Babies are sensitive to risks caused by these bacteria. 

4. Can I add freshly expressed breast milk to already stored milk?

Yes. Before mixing freshly expressed milk with already frozen milk, properly cool it in the fridge or a cooler using ice packs.

5. Can I keep milk longer than 12 months in the freezer?

It’s best to keep it in the freezer for approximately six months, but up to 12 months is still OK. 

Although freezing makes food safe for nearly unlimited periods, it’s still essential to adhere to the suggested storage times for the best outcomes.

To keep the food good, make sure that you apply the proper storage methods, such as putting the container in the coldest freezer area. 

Conclusion 

Some factors influence how to store and prepare breast milk for safe, full-term feedings. If you’re having difficulty remembering all of this information, consider the rule of 4’s. 

Freezing breast milk can help the food last longer. However, bear in mind the correct thawing, or you will experience unfortunate consequences.

Hopefully, this article can make your feeding time easier and safer. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Thank you for reading!

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