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Breast Milk Storage

Nursing/pumping mamas, please, I implore you: have a good breastmilk storage system. Losing even one ounce of that liquid gold is like… just devastating. I may or may not have almost murdered my husband for incorrectly storing my breastmilk one time.

If you’re not planning on using your pumped milk within 4 hours, you should put it in the refrigerator (in the bottle is fine). If you’re not planning on using it within 4 days, you need to freeze it. In the freezer, it will stay good for a maximum of 6 months. *You may not want to pump too far ahead because the composition of your milk – and your baby’s needs – will change over time.


Four hours (out/at room temperature); four days (in the fridge); 6 months (in the freezer).

How do you store it, you ask? You can store your milk in containers, but the go-to for most pumping mothers is breastmilk storage bags, which are more convenient and take up less space. This is one arena in which there is room for product development, IMO, as there is simply not very much on the market that’s super impressive… but for now the leading favorite remains the Lansinoh storage bags.

lansinoh breast milk storage bags
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Especially given all the new breast pump technology in the 21st century, it drives me bonkers that there aren’t better breastmilk storage solutions for pumping moms. To be frank, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to be that excited about… However, many pump makers are starting to manufacture their own storage bags, so check if your particular pump offers those, because you can often pump directly into them, which is nice.

Milkies Milk Trays allow moms to freeze expressed breast milk in 1 oz servings (note — there is no 1 oz. line indicator on the tray, so the measuring is imperfect). Each tray freezes eight ~1-oz milk sticks, and the design is specific so that each one can fit into bottle openings (this is why you can’t just use a regular ice tray — well, you could, it would just be super annoying). Some people love this option, but others find it prone to “loss” given the pouring and transport. You may want to put the covered tray inside a big freezer ziploc, too, for a better seal around the whole thing. *Made in the U.S.A.

milkies milk trays
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Kiinde also makes the Twist breastmilk storage system, and I have to say it’s pretty darn cool. With the Twist, you can pump, store (freeze), organize, re-heat, and feed — all without having to transfer the milk. Best of all, there is only one little piece (the nipple) to clean. People are gaga over this one (even though he went to MIT and I went to Tech — the real Tech, that is — we can still be friends). One thing to consider with the Kiinde Twist bags are that they take up more freezer space (because they don’t lie flat) compared to the Lansinoh bags, or something similar.

twist breastmilk storage system
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Check out the video here shot at the 2015 ABC Baby Show:

Yes, I highly recommend the Kiinde system for pumping mothers.

I also suggest getting the milk storage organizer by The First Years [below] to organize your milk by date.

breast milk storage organizer
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If you plan to be pumping at work at any point, check here for a few other basic supplies…

That’s it for feeding, folks! Next up is our baby clothing guide, which features baby clothes that are comfortable.

What is the 5-5-5 rule for breast milk?

The 5-5-5 rule is a general guideline for storing and using breast milk. It helps ensure the safety and quality of expressed breast milk:
5 hours at room temperature: Breast milk can be left at room temperature (around 77°F or 25°C) for up to 5 hours. After this time, it’s best to discard any remaining milk.
5 days in the refrigerator: If you need to store breast milk for a longer period, it can be safely stored in the refrigerator (at 32-39°F or 0-4°C) for up to 5 days.
5-12 months in the freezer: For longer storage, breast milk can be kept in the freezer. It is recommended to use it within 5-12 months for optimal quality. The back of the freezer is the coldest spot, so it’s best to place milk containers there.

How long can breast milk be stored for?

The storage duration of breast milk depends on the temperature at which it’s kept:
At room temperature (77°F or 25°C): Breast milk can be safely stored for up to 5 hours. It’s important to keep it in a cool, shaded place away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
In the refrigerator (32-39°F or 0-4°C): Breast milk can be stored for up to 5 days. Ensure that the milk is kept in the back of the fridge, where the temperature is most consistent.
In the freezer (-0.4°F or -18°C and below): Breast milk can be stored for an extended period, ideally between 5 and 12 months. The longer you store it, the more the quality may decrease over time, but it remains safe to use.

Can I put breast milk back in fridge after baby drinks from it?

Yes, you can put breast milk back in the refrigerator after your baby drinks from it, but there are a few important considerations to keep in mind:
– Use breast milk within the 5-day limit in the refrigerator.
– Only reuse milk that your baby has directly consumed from the same container. Any leftover milk that the baby hasn’t drunk can be refrigerated and offered in the next feeding.
– Make sure the container and the milk are properly handled to maintain hygiene. Use clean containers and store the milk in the back of the fridge away from raw foods.

Can I refrigerate half drank breast milk?

Yes, you can refrigerate breast milk that your baby has partially consumed. Here are some key points to remember:
– Use a clean container for any leftover milk.
– Ensure that the milk is refrigerated within two hours of initial use.
– Label the container with the date it was expressed.
– Use the refrigerated milk within 24 hours to maintain its quality and safety.


  1. Avatar of Lisa Myers

    Meg, I know what you mean about the lack of options but have you checked out Ceres Chill and the Milkstache – cereschill.com

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