The thought of a freezer overflowing with breast milk sounds like a dream come true to a new mom. Having nursed two sets of twins myself, I’ve been there—double time! If you’re fortunate enough to be facing this embarrassment of breast milk riches, you should definitely know the 5 Do’s (and Don’ts) of proper storage. So here goes:
- Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness When handling breast milk, make sure you are working in a clean area and wash your hands (well). Also make sure that you are using clean containers/bags for expressed milk storage. If you’re storing your milk in re-usable nursing storage bottles, pick one of these options: use a microwave steam sterilizer, wash with hot soapy water, or run them through the dishwasher.
- Forget About Those Ice Cube Trays Use hard plastic bottles specifically designed for storing breast milk, with a screw cap or tight fitting lid; or use heavy plastic bags designed for breast-milk storage. Store milk in amounts that make sense for your baby’s age and the amount he or she may drink in one session. For example, you may want to store 4 ounces per container for your 2 month-old, but 6 - 8 ounce s per container for your 4 month-old.
- Chill Out In the fridge, breast is BEST within 24 hours of refrigerated storage. If you refrigerated your milk more than 72 hours ago, throw it out.
- Freeze Ease If your freezer is attached to a refrigerator (the kind most of us have in our homes), milk is good there for one month. If you have a deep freezer (am I dating myself here to say like the kind in Sam’s Butcher Shop on the Brady Bunch?), you can store breast milk up to six months - but it’s best to use it within 3 months. Make sure to keep milk at the back of the freezer where the temperature is coldest.
- Quick Thaw McGraw To thaw for frozen milk in advance, put in the fridge for up to 24 hours. For immediate usage, you should place frozen milk in a bowl of lukewarm water. Never (ever!) use a microwave to defrost or heat breast milk or formula, as heating is uneven and may result in scalding your baby’s mouth. Once milk is frozen and defrosted, do not refreeze it.