Defrosting Breastmilk

Updated on September 25, 2007
D.D. asks from Highland Lakes, NJ
4 answers

I am a new mother of a 3 month old boy and have been pumping and freezing my breastmilk. Can anyone give me solid advice on the proper way to defrost and store? I pump and store my milk in bags to pour into bottles when ready to feed. Can it just go into the fridge from the freezer to defrost then warmed up when baby is hungry? I am returning to work 2 days a week and need to know how this should be done...I have heard so many different ways...want to know which is best for baby! Thanks!! D. :)

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answers from New York on

hi D., yes, freezer to fridge for 24 hours....this is probably a repeat of the other responses you got, but you can go to the la leche league page, to human milk storage guidelines, it will tell you everything. i wanted to add that breastmilk absolutely can go bad, but just like regular milk, it smells and tastes awful, so if you have milk that has been in the fridge a week or so and youre not sure, just give it a smell or a tiny taste. there is no doubt if it's bad, believe me. good milk doesnt have much of a smell at all, try a few so you know what good milk smells like, then i think its always a good idea to give a bottle a sniff before feeding it to the baby. if its bad, they will throw up, so best to just check. and try not to store the milk in the door of the fridge or freezer, it doesnt last as long because you're always opening the door. the bottom/back of the fridge/freezer is coldest and most consistent. also, a good tip is to keep one bottle of anything in the freezer as a kind of alert, just freeze a bottle of something partially full right side up, then store it turned on its side, that way if your freezer happens to defrost and re-freeze, you will know it because the liquid will be re-frozen sideways, know what i mean?



answers from New York on

Sorry this question will drive you least it did me! the way i got my peace of mind was asking our son's doctor what she recommended and even then she said that there is no true right way. but she did give some tips, here's what she said:
*its best to freeze the milk right after you pump if you know it won't be used for awhile.
*milk can be stored in the fridge for upto 7 days, if you reach 7 days throw it out, putting it in the freezer isn't a great option at this point since bacteria may have already started forming
*warm milk up in warm water, never microwave
*never mix milks of different temperatures, i.e. pumped with refridgerated or frozen
*once defrosted milk must be used within 24 hours and DO NOT refreeze milk
Hope this helps.



answers from New York on

D.: Here is some information copied and pasted from the Medela website. I used all Avent products and found it very easy to pump into bottles and then freeze. I would defrost my milk in the fridge and when it was ready put into a bottle warmer. It worked out great. When I was at work I would pump and store in the cooler and when I got home I would either freeze or store in the fridge. My daugheters peditrican said everything I did was fine and I followed what is below. Good Luck!

Storing Breastmilk

It is normal for pumped milk to vary in color, consistency and scent depending on your diet. Stored milk separates into layers. Cream will rise to the top. Gently swirl the warmed bottle to mix the milk layers.

You can continue to add small amounts of cooled breastmilk to the same refrigerated container throughout the day. Avoid adding warm milk to already cooled milk.

Store your milk in glass or hard plastic containers, or in milk storage bags made especially for breast milk. Place smaller bags inside a larger food storage bag to prevent accidental punctures.
Freeze milk in 2 to 5 oz portions. Small amounts will thaw more quickly. You will waste less milk this way and will avoid over-feeding. Liquids expand when frozen. Be sure to leave some extra room at the top of the container so the bottle or bag won’t burst.

Seal containers tightly. Write the date on a piece of masking tape on the bag or bottle. Use the oldest milk first.
If you do not plan to use the milk within a few days, freeze it right away in the coldest section of your freezer. Do not place the bottle or bag up against the wall of the freezer.


Thaw milk overnight in the refrigerator, or hold the bottle under warm running water to quickly thaw. You can also place the sealed container in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes to bring it to body temperature.

Thawed milk is safe in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Do not refreeze.

CAUTION: Never microwave breastmilk. Microwaving can cause severe burns to baby’s
mouth from hot spots that develop in the milk during microwaving. Microwaving can also change the composition of breastmilk.



answers from New York on

Mustela has a pretty comprehensive guide on this subject. I am not sure if it is online. I used to freeze the milk right in the bottles and I used the disposeable bags as well. (Their measurements were usually off so I trusted the # of ounces in the bottle and then poured it into the bag then froze) I used to put them in the refrigerator to defrost and they were warmed up in the bottle warmer just fine. If he did not drink the entire feeding the remander was discarded. B-milk has a lot of antibodies and it is very difficult for it to go bad(I never witnessed any of my milk go bad and I just stopped b-feeding him this past tuesday.) Good Luck and congratulations on the great commitment of b-feeding your child.

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