How to store breast milk and for how long

How to store breast milk and for how long


Todobebe answers a question from one of our readers:


How long can breast milk stay fresh in the refrigerator and keep its nutritional value?


Answer: It’s important to note that these recommendations specifically regard expressed breast milk.


Frozen milk should be thawed slowly. The night before it will be used, take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator. Once it’s thawed, the milk must be used within 24 hours.


To warm it, place the bottle of milk in hot water and rotate or gently shake the bottle to help avoid hot spots. Never place the bottle in boiling water as excessive heat destroys enzymes and proteins. Also, avoid using the microwave as it also zaps nutrients.


It’s normal for the fat to separate in pumped milk. If this happens, shake the bottle gently to even out the consistency.


Baby can drink the milk out of a cup, spoon or bottle, but leftover milk must be used within the day.


Breast milk’s recommended usage and expiration dates depend on the storage method and temperature. If used within the recommended time frame there should be no loss of nutrients.


Breast Milk Use By Dates


Storage Method Use Within
Room Temperature 12 hours
Refrigerator (not stored in the door) 72 hours
Freezer (part of the refrigerator) 14 days
Freezer (separate unit; deep freezer) 3 months



* Andrea Torres Lobos is a nutritionist who received her degree at the University of Chile.


Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice. All answers are based on information provided by the source and no efforts, including laboratory tests, have been made to confirm claims made. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health concern. Consult and get an examination from a doctor who is authorized to practice medicine in your area.