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Breast Milk Storage

Many women choose to pump and store human milk because it is easy and safe.  Some women store their milk for a rainy day and others store it because they have to go back to work or school.  Whatever your reason for wanting to store your breast milk the tips here will help you along the way.



  • Do wash your hands before handling your milk
  • Do label all containers with dates of expression
  • Do store in 1-2 ounces (This is to make sure you do not waste your precious milk)
  • Do store in the back of the refrigerator or freezer
  • Do label all milk with your child’s name if your are taking it to a daycare
  • Do only put what you need for one feeding in the bottle, you can easily defrost 1-2 ounces more if needed

× Do not defrost in the microwave

× Do not add fresh milk to already frozen milk

× Do not save milk from a used bottle

× Do not refreeze previously thawed milk


Milk location


How long will it last

Additional Information

On table or counter

Room Temperature (up to 77⁰F or 25⁰C)

6-8 hours

Keep containers covered and out of direct sunlight

Insulated bag or cooler

5 to 39⁰F or -15 to 4⁰C

24 hours

Use more than one ice pack in larger bags and keep containers in contact with ice packs.  Limit opening cooler bag


39⁰F or 4⁰C

5 days

Store milk in back of refrigerator. If milk is close to the door the temperature will change too much

Small Freezer located inside Refrigerator

5⁰F or -15⁰C

2 weeks

Store in back of freezer compartment

Freezer compartment with separate door in refrigerator

0⁰F or 18⁰C

3-6 months

Store in back where temperature is more constant

Deep Freezer or separate Freezer Chest

-4⁰F or -20⁰C

6-12 months

Milk stored for longer ranges listed is safe, some fats  may lose some of it’s quality

Adapted with Permission from the Foundation for a Breastfeeding Culture