How to Store Frozen Breast Milk
Here's a few easy, inexpensive tips for storing stashes of frozen breast milk
Before I became a mom, I was proud to show off my freezer full of meat I bought on sale, bags of cheese I got for super cheap, and frozen veggies I had prepped and bagged myself. Now that I have an infant, I beam from pride when I open my freezer and see the stash of frozen breast milk accumulating. I exclusively pump, but we supplement with formula at night (because this mama needs those 4-5 hour stretches of sleep). Supplementing formula at night means I am able to sock away a decent amount of milk each week. My husband recently asked how long I was going to pump, and I was slightly ashamed to admit that I’m having an internal contest with myself to see how much breast milk I can accumulate before stopping. While he thinks I’m a bit crazy, I have a feeling there are at least a few new moms who can relate.
If you are cozying up to your breast pump every few hours like I am, you too probably have a stash of extra breast milk. To help you keep it organized, and to allow your freezer to continue to freeze adult food as well, I will offer the best ways to organize frozen breast milk that I have found on the internet or talking with friends.
Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
The first thing to remember when you’re storing breast milk, is that you need to keep it at the correct temperatures, and use it in a timely manner. La Leche League, and numerous other websites, provide safe guidelines for breast milk storage. The table below is from the guidelines I found on their website.
Since the milk can’t be kept indefinitely, it’s important that you have the milk stored in an organized manner to make sure you use it up before it should be tossed. A lot of work goes in to collecting breast milk, so the last thing you want to do is have to toss it because you waited too long to use it!
While breast milk storage bags (which I’ll talk about next) are one of the most common ways to store frozen breast milk, they can be costly to keep buying. If you are on a budget, consider freezing your breast milk in to cubes.
I asked for a couple Nuk brand freezer trays on my baby registry. These little silicone trays are meant for freezing homemade baby food, but the compartments each hold 1oz which makes them very handy for freezing breast milk. Simply pour in the milk after each pumping, then pop out the frozen blocks later in the day. The milk cubes can easily be stored in plastic baggies until needing to be used. Have one bag per week, and you can make sure that the cubes get used before the milk is 6 months old.
This method is inexpensive and works great for milk that you are going to thaw at home. Simply remove a couple milk cubes from the bag, thaw, and feed. If you do need to take the frozen cubes with you, they will fit through the wide opening of the short/fat style bottles, like Avent brand, to be thawed later.