Gearing up for a baby involves a lot of decisions. Whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed, there’s a wealth of organized information. One aspect that new parents have trouble with is how do they store the milk once the baby has had his fill? Can you freeze breast milk? The answer might surprise you.
Breast milk is important for all babies, especially newborns. It provides the essential nutrients that they need to grow and develop properly. Breastfeeding your baby during the first 6 months of life can provide you with many benefits, but there will come a time when you have to extract milk using a pump and then freeze it if you want to keep breastfeeding after 6 months.
Freezing breast milk preserves most of its nutrients while some are lost along the way. The color might change in frozen breastmilk which is normal because enzymes present in it may cause this change or what mom eats or drinks may be causing this difference in color too! You should remember not to follow bad habits like microwaving unfrozen breastmilk as this could make your
Can You Freeze Breast Milk
Breast milk provides the essential nutrients that newborn and growing babies need. To reap the maximum benefits, you can do exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months. After this period, you can start to introduce food and drink while breastfeeding. You can continue up to 24 months and even beyond.
While breast milk is better when fresh, there will come a time during the 2-year breastfeeding period, and even during just the first months, when you have to extract using a pump and freeze the milk. Freezing breast milk preserves most of its nutrients. While some nutrients get lost, frozen breast milk is still nutritionally better than the alternative, formula milk.
The color of the breast milk might change when frozen. This is normal. The aroma can also change, and this is normal, too. This can be due to enzymes present in the milk and can be solved by scalding the breast milk before cooling and freezing. This can also be because of what the mom eats and drinks, and can be solved by dietary changes.
You can store breastmilk in sealed containers in the freezer for up to 12 months. You can feed the defrosted milk to your baby using a bottle or spoon.
Just remember to follow proper defrosting as this can make or break breast milk. Follow the “first in, first out” rule. Thaw the oldest container in the refrigerator overnight. You can also soak the container in warm bath or run it under warm running water to defrost it. Just ensure that there are no holes in the container. Do not use boiling or hot water, just lukewarm. Do not microwave it. Do not heat it on the stove. Defrosted milk must be consumed within an hour. It cannot be refrozen.
If you have no access to a freezer, you can keep freshly expressed breastmilk at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours, in an insulated cooler for up to 24 hours, or in the back of a refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
How to Freeze Breastmilk
Follow the steps and tips below for freezing breastmilk.
- Choose pump well based on your needs and preferences.
- Choose containers based on your needs, preferences, and storage capacity. You can use small bottles with tight lids, covered ice cube trays, or breastmilk bags. Do not use ordinary freezer bags.
- Clean and sterilize washable parts of the pump and containers. Dry thoroughly.
- Extract and pour breast milk in sterilized containers.
- It is best to store in small quantities to avoid wastage.
- You can store 2 to 4 ounces per container.
- If you find yourself lacking for a container, you can pour the freshly-extracted breast milk into frozen milk as long as the fresh breast milk has cooled already, and the quantity is not double the frozen.
- Seal well and label properly with the date and time extracted and frozen.
- Clean and sterilize pump parts and containers after every use. Air dry them before storing them.
Precautions to Take When Freezing Breast Milk
When you become a mom, one of the most important things you learn is how to feed your baby. Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, there are precautions to take when freezing breast milk. Here is a list of steps to follow to make sure your breast milk is stored and frozen properly:
1. Sanitize pumping equipment and bottles prior to each use. This can be done by boiling for five minutes or using a sanitizing solution:
2. Pump only clean milk into collection containers. Make sure the area where you pump is clean as well:
3. Collect milk in sterile containers whenever possible. Glass or plastic storage bags that have been specifically designed for milk storage are best. If you must use a container that is not sterile, make sure to boil it for at least five minutes before freezing it:
How To Thaw Frozen Breast Milk
Thawing frozen breast milk is very simple. Just place the container of frozen milk in a bowl of warm water and let it thaw slowly. You can also place the frozen milk in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Once the milk has thawed, you can then warm it on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Some women freeze their breast milk in small portions, such as 2-ounce or 4-ounce quantities. This makes it easy to thaw just the right amount of milk for a feeding. If you have more than one child, you may find it convenient to freeze your breast milk in larger portions, such as 8-ounce or 16-ounce quantities. This will allow you to thaw enough milk
How Long Does Breast Milk Last (Stays Fresh) Outside at Room Temperature?
The general consensus is that breast milk can last up to six hours outside of the fridge at room temperature. However, it’s important to keep in mind that breast milk is a live food, so the sooner it’s consumed, the better.
That being said, if you need to store your pumped milk for an extended period of time, you can stash it in the fridge or freezer. Frozen milk will stay fresh for up to three months, while refrigerated milk will last for up to five days. Just make sure to shake it well before you feed it to your baby.
How Long Does Breast Milk Last (Stays Fresh) in the Fridge?
The freshness of breast milk depends on a variety of factors, including how it was stored and how long it’s been since it was expressed. Generally speaking, fresh breast milk will last in the fridge for about five days, and in the freezer for about two to six months.
It’s also important to note that freezing breast milk does not kill all bacteria – in fact, freezing can actually help to preserve some of the more beneficial bacteria present in breast milk. That said, frozen breast milk should be thawed slowly (in the fridge) to minimize any bacterial growth. Breast milk that has been frozen and then thawed should be used within 24 hours.
How To Use Up Extra/Leftover Breast Milk?
1. Donate it to a local milk bank.
2. Feed it to your infant or toddler if they are still breastfeeding.
3. Feed it to your pet (dog, cat, etc.).
4. Mix in with their food as a way to increase the nutritional content.
5. Use it in smoothies or other recipes calling for milk.
6. If you freeze it, you can add it to coffee or tea as a creamer substitute down the road.
To get you started and pumped up, you can read resource articles and watch video testimonials of other moms who’ve been there and done that.
You can also check out solutions to common breast milk issues such as scalding breast milk to kill excess lipase, the enzyme that makes breast milk smell weird.
Lack of breast milk and dwindling amount of breast milk are common breastfeeding issues. Check out tips on how to increase milk production.
Freezing breast milk is an easy and practical solution to store your excess supply. It helps you avoid wasting what you’ve pumped out. Freezing also saves you time, effort, and money. You can feed your baby this breastmilk when you are on the go or away from home.