Freezing Your Breastmilk
Freezing Tips from
Now that you have pumped milk, you may be wondering
what exactly to do next. There are several options for storing
Many moms choose to just store their milk in the
fridge (rather than freezing it) if they're going to be using it
soon. This is actually the preferred method of storage, if it will be used within
a few days. Remember when choosing this
method to store the milk in coldest section of your fridge, NOT
in the door.
moms have found a system, like the
System to be helpful. This stores the fresh breastmilk in a way
that you don't have to guess which bottle is older, as it is
dispensed from oldest to freshest.
If the bulk of baby's milk is expressed breastmilk,
plastic containers are the best choice for storing in the refrigerator
as more of human milk's leukocytes or white cells adhere to glass.
When freezing your milk, there are several things
to take into consideration. The type of container chosen may
be important if the bulk of your baby's milk is frozen milk.
In that case, freezing in glass is best because it is less porous
and offers the best protection in the freezer. If the frozen milk
is for occasional bottles, the type of container is not as important.
Also keep in mind that freezing does destroy most of the
leukocytes, so whenever possible the bulk of baby's expressed
breastmilk should be "fresh" vs frozen.
Hard plastic containers of any kind are also good
choices for both refrigeration and freezing
option is to use milk storage bags that are designed specifically
for human milk. These are available from several sources, including
on line sources as well as local stores like Kmart, Target, and
Wal-Mart stores. These bags are pre-sterilized, thicker, coated
with polyethylene, and lined with nylon, which prevents the fat
from sticking to the sides.
NOTE: Some moms wonder about using the bottle liners, such as
those for the Playtex or Gerber "disposable" bottles.
Most experts recommend against using these because they are not
as durable as the bags designed specifically for freezing milk.
The seams of the bottle liners may burst during the freezing process,
and precious breastmilk wasted.
Can I Freeze My Milk After It Has Been Refrigerated
Yes - most sources seem to indicate that you should be safe to use
ALL the storage options in succession if you need to.
For example, storing freshly expressed breastmilk at room temperature
for up to 10 hours, THEN in a refrigerator for up to 8 days,
and THEN in a freezer for 3-12 months (depending on the type
You're likely to get to stretch your storage times to the maximum
(or even a little longer) if you don't "use up" all of
your "warmer" storage - for example, you can expect a
longer storage time if you freeze the milk immediately (if you know
you'll want it frozen) rather than keep it at room temp for 10 hours,
then refrigerate for 8 days and THEN freeze the milk.
Even though storage times may be decreased, most bf experts suggest
*not* throwing out any milk before the maximum storage time unless
when you warm it you notice that it has a very distinct foul smell.
Remember: When using your frozen milk, always use the "oldest" milk first,
or rotate your
stock of milk. A simple way to do this is to use fresh milk from
fridge through most of work week, and then once or twice a week thaw
a bag or two of frozen milk. You can freeze a bag or two of freshly
pumped milk to replace what frozen you've used. This keeps
your stock "rotated" and still allows baby to have bulk of milk be
A Few Tips from moms on freezing ebm (expressed
- Freeze in small amounts - 2 or 3 oz increments
- it thaws faster and less waste. (Kim)
- Make "breastmilk shingles" - I used
the Avent bags with the plastic locking clip. I always lay them
horizontally, so they would freeze in a flat shingle. This made
them thaw faster, and take up much less space in the freezer.
After they were frozen I would take the plastic clip off and put
the bags into a big freezer Ziploc with the quantities and amounts
listed on the outside of the bag along with the date. This made
it easy to find the quantity I needed as well as the milk I should
use first. btw, the plastic clips have come in handy for all kinds
of things now that they are not being used for ebm. . (LaRee)
- I like the Gerber bags. They Ziploc. I would
store them in a large Ziploc with the range of dates on the outside.
It made it easy to rotate but I never had a lot of stash. (Lori)
- You know how Medela and other expensive brands
sell the bags for freezing/storing? Well, Gerber has one that
is just as thick, good for freezing, and stands "up"
when you pour the milk into it- making it MUCH easier to not spill
your liquid gold! They are so much cheaper of course and you can
buy them at Wal-Mart - right beside the expensive ones! After
storing them in the bags- I would then place them in a BIG plastic
bin- and store them in a freezer- "ideally" the big
box freezers, but- if you need to put it in your refridge/freezer-
make sure it's definitely in a plastic container so the bags don't
touch the side walls of the freezer- since most freezers have
an "automatic defrost" and your milk will defrost too
if it's touching the side of the freezer. (Adele)
- I am a paranoid freak, so I will put the milk
in one Gerber bag and then put another Gerber bag over that bag.
LOL! Then I put several ebm bags in a Ziploc bag labeled with
the month/dates of the milk on the outside so I know when I need
to use that milk.
- I have also used the Lansinoh before, but those
were way too expensive and did not have the "Ziploc"
feature that the Gerber bags have. The hospital also gave me sterilized
urine sample cylinders to use for frozen ebm. I know that sounds
yucky, but my LC said it was a great way to store milk. I only
used a few and found them too much of a pain, if you are going
to have to wash them and reuse them.
- I have heard that Tupperware ice cube trays (they
have a lid on them) are great to use for smaller serving sizes.
- Making Milk Cubes (or "Boob Cubes")
- pour the milk into a scrupulously clean ice cube tray &
freeze. When it's frozen, pop the cubes into a FREEZER Ziploc.
Since most ice cubes are between .5 and 1 oz, this is a GREAT
way to deal with small increments - and you only thaw what you
need. You might be able to find
trays (covered), as does Tupperware(Freezer Mates Fresh &
Pure Ice Tray) .
I do NOT recommend the
trays for anybody who routinely spills half the ice cube tray
on the way to the freezer, LOL. When using them, it's best to
have the lid already partially on the tray when you put the milk
in, so you don't jerk an already full tray when you put the lid
on. (Hope that makes sense) Mine go in the dishwasher every day,
and are holding up pretty well. I think the cube is about .6 oz
You can figure the volume of an ice cube pretty
easily (if it's important to you) by just filling up a measuring
cup with water, finding out how much it takes to fill the tray,
and dividing by the number of cubes. It's approximate though, depending
on how much you fill it on any given day. Be sure to use a FREEZER
Ziploc to store the cubes once they're frozen. (Sharon)
- I use a clean ice tray and Freezer Ziplocs. I
freeze the milk in the ice tray and then put the cubes into a
freezer bag. I like it b/c I know each cube is 1 oz and I can
pick and choose how much I use without having to thaw the whole
bag or use lots of expensive liners for freezing (I use the cheep
liners anyways when I use a bottle). (Darci)
- I always liked the Mother's milk storage bags.
They have this really neat top that opens into a diamond shape
and stays open (easier for you to pour in the milk) then you just
pull it shut and fold it over (kind of like a chips ahoy bag).
They are about 8.00 for 25 bags. Although I think I might try
some of the other ideas this time around :o) (Dottie)
Special thanks to the moms who have shared
their tips on storing/freezing breastmilk!