Breast milk offers unparalleled benefits for both mamas and their little ones. But how long can breast milk sit out for?
It's normal for mothers to feel worried about spoiling even a drop of their liquid gold. The importance of properly storing breast milk shouldn't go unnoticed.
We'll tell you everything you need to know below for when it comes to storing your milk.
See related: Your Guide To Safely Traveling With Breast Milk
1. Use The Right Type Of Storage Container
Each mama knows that storing breast milk is by far a big part of motherhood.
We believe that mothers deserve to have peace of mind when it comes to storing their milk. So, here at Mila's Keeper, we made that our mission.
Our milk bottles were developed for both mothers, and Mother Earth. Our containers are made with absolutely no plastics and no toxins, so they can meet even the highest standards.
Each product we make is BPA-free and made from high-quality borosilicate glass. On top of that, the lid and bottle covers are made of silicone (again, made with no plastics and no toxins!).
The borosilicate glass our storage bottles are made of is not just regular glass. These materials make it so that our bottles can withstand even drastic temperature changes easily, without sustaining damage.
You don't need to worry about the possibility of it shattering if you use it for either heated milk or frozen breast milk. When it's time to clean them, feel free to even toss them in the dishwasher!
The Enormous Benefits of Glass Versus Plastic Bottles
Lately, there has been a debate about whether mothers should be using plastic bottles or glass bottles for milk storage.
One of the pretty common arguments in favor of plastic bottles is that they help save money, as glass bottles can come with a higher price tag. But of course, we all know the saying - "You get what you pay for."
Perhaps plastic bottles are cheaper, but the downsides make it inevitably not worth it.
Though plastic bottles are no longer made with BPA per FDA standards, other chemicals have cropped up to replace them. Plastic bottles can still be made with similar chemicals like BPS and BSF, which can also be dangerous to your baby's health.
Plus, BPA-free plastics can still release chemicals into warm milk, especially when subjected to extreme temperatures.
When storing breast milk, it's better to use materials like glass, stainless steel, or even silicone to help avoid the risks associated with plastic bottles.
Also, make sure to steer clear of bottles with the recycle symbol number 7, which indicates that the bottle likely contains some sort of BPA.
We know that mothers don't want to cut corners when it comes to the safety of their children. The bottom line is that plastic bottles should inevitably be avoided so you can make sure you're feeding your baby breast milk that is completely safe.
Staying away from plastic products is also not a bad idea to help benefit our environment. In today's world, the way we consume plastics as a society is not overly sustainable.
When it comes down to it, glass bottles are not only the safest storage option for breast milk, but they are the most environmentally friendly. Go green!
2. Don't Leave Your Milk At Room Temperature For Too Long
Especially for working moms, it can be a major struggle to figure out how to store breast milk outside of the fridge and still keep it cold.
You may be wondering, how long can breast milk sit at room temperature?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), freshly expressed breast milk can sit at room temperature for up to four hours. Sometimes four hours can seem like a lot, but for mamas on the go, this time melts away quickly.
On top of that, these four hours get cut down to one to two hours for thawed milk or previously frozen breast milk.
This can be a concern for working moms with long days away from home. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for working mothers to have limited access to a fridge to store their freshly pumped milk. Spoiled breast milk is not something that can be brushed aside lightly.
Despite the CDC recommendations, many mamas still feel anxious about the effects of room temperature on their breast milk. If that sounds like you, you're not alone - it's normal to feel worried about something like this!
Many mothers have tried to find different tactics to keep their breast milk cold and out of room temperature. But luckily for you, the days of melting ice packs stuffed in an insulated cooler are over.
Get Cold Breast Milk For Up To 20 Hours
We believe that women deserve to enjoy the peace of mind knowing that their stored breast milk can stay cold all day, regardless of where they are.
With this in mind, we at Mila's Keeper designed our patented portable insulated cooler that allows moms to keep their stored milk cold for up to 20 hours.
That sounds like a life-saver, right?!
Our versatile and convenient milk storage cooler contains a BPA-free cold pack that's specifically designed to keep breast milk cold all day.
We made it for the working moms, the on-the-go moms, and any other moms out there who want to have the freedom to keep their breast milk cold regardless of where they are!
3. Freeze Your Liquid Gold For Longer-Term Storage
It's pretty common for mothers to freeze milk, though there's a lot more that goes into it than what may seem.
For storing expressed milk in the fridge or freezer, usually mothers have breast milk storage bags or breast milk storage containers. Just make sure that whatever you use is designed specifically for storing your breast milk - never use something like disposable bottle liners or plastic bags.
For storing freshly expressed milk, the fridge is a popular place to keep it cold and prolong its life. Fresh milk can't hang out at room temperature for too long before it starts to diminish in quality and lose nutrients. But always keep in mind that refrigerated breast milk can only be stored there for up to four days.
On the other hand, if you choose to go the route of freezing your milk, frozen breast milk can be stored for up to 9 months. And if you take it a step further to store expressed milk in the deep freezer, this number jumps up to 12 months.
The Best Way To Freeze Your Milk
The frozen milk storage guidelines that are set out help keep your breast milk safe and in good condition for your little one.
When it comes time to freeze your breast milk, the best way to do so is by using Mila's Keeper's glass milk storage bottles. Our design made with medical-grade glass lets our bottles easily withstand the deep cold of your freezer.
Always keep these other factors in mind if you plan to store breast milk in the freezer:
- Breast milk expands when it freezes, so keep extra space in your storage container to give it room to breathe.
- Label your container or breast milk bags with the date it was stored for easy reference.
Bonus: The glass storage bottles we have at Mila's Keeper aren't just fantastic for freezing breast milk - they also can be repurposed later to be anything from a snack container to a water bottle!
Bonus: 13 Best Gifts For The Working Moms In Your Life
4. Take Care When Thawing Breast Milk
If you end up freezing your breast milk, you'll also need to end up thawing it.
When you do this, just always keep in mind that you should thaw breast milk in the order that you froze it - from the oldest to the newest (this is where labeling your containers comes in handy).
But make sure you also never refreeze breast milk after it has been thawed.
One of the best ways to thaw breast milk is by leaving it in the refrigerator overnight. With this method, make sure once it's thawed that you use it within 24 hours.
You can also thaw milk by either keeping it in warm (not hot) water or leaving it under warm running water. And, whenever you bring previously frozen breast milk back to room temperature, use it within the next two hours.
Heat Your Milk The Safe Way
It's not a necessity to warm milk before giving it to your little one. But we know each mama is different and knows her baby like none other.
If you decide to warm your milk, an easy way to do this is by keeping it in warm water for a little bit. Mila's Keeper Breast Milk Coolers can also be used a milk warmer! Just fill the bottle halfway with hot tap water, and safely place your bottle inside. Check your milk periodically until its lukewarm and you are ready to go!
However, you should always avoid microwaving breast milk as a tactic to reheat it. When you use the microwave for heating breast milk, not only does it break down the healthy nutrients that are essential for your baby, but it also can lead to the creation of hot spots that can burn a baby's mouth.
5. Know How To Store Leftover Milk
How you store your milk is key. When it comes to your breast milk, each drop is priceless. Every mother knows that her valuable milk is not something that can be easily wasted.
That's why storing your milk the right way is so vital. We know firsthand how properly handling breast milk can be way more important than it may initially seem.
After feeding your little one, make sure to use any leftover breast milk within two hours. The CDC recommends storing milk in small amounts to avoid having leftover breast milk.
At Mila's Keeper, our breast milk bottles were designed with this in mind. Our glass containers are made to hold up to 5 ounces (150 mL) of your priceless milk, so you can easily keep enough inside for a full feeding.
The best way to keep from having extra milk left after feeding is by only storing it in smaller amounts. Because remember, you can't refreeze previously frozen milk. As far as thawed breast milk, this needs to be used within two hours after it's brought to room temperature.
6. Just Remember The "Rule of Fours"
All of these breast milk storage guidelines may seem like a lot to take in. It's normal for mamas to sometimes feel overwhelmed, but we're here to help you.
When it comes down to it, all you need to keep in mind is the Rule of Fours. It's a convenient way to remember the primary points when it comes to storing your milk.
It goes like this; you can store milk for 4 hours at room temperature, and 4 days in the fridge. Easy, right?
Of course, there are more details to keep in mind, but these are the ones that you should have memorized like the boss you are.
Mamas have a lot on their plate when it comes to taking care of their children, especially moms who juggle a busy schedule.
When it comes to your breast milk, our products are more than just a tool for safe storage. We are here to empower mothers and give them true freedom and peace of mind.
Keep Reading: Benefits of Breastfeeding From Month to Month
A female-designed and female-run company, Mila's Keeper is on a mission to empower women to thrive during their breastfeeding journey by offering reusable, eco-friendly breast milk storage solutions for their day-to-day needs. Get the latest tips and info on Mila's Keeper products by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.