How Long to Refrigerate Expressed Milk?

Updated on April 21, 2008
S.D. asks from Chicago, IL
11 answers

There is a lot of conflicting information out there about how long you can refrigerate or freeze expressed breast milk. I'm more concerned with the data on refrigerated milk. I have read 24 hours, 48 hours, and even 5-7 days. I have milk from Friday's work day that will be consumed by my baby on Monday, so can this milk be refrigerated? I have yet to freeze any of my milk and wondered if it looses some of its nutritional/health value for my baby.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

A lactation consultant at Illinois Masonic hospital told me freshly expressed breast milk can be stored at room temp for up to 8 hours, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days then put in freezer on the fifth day, and can be in the freezer for up to three months. As far as the nutritional value, I've heard there is a slight decrease in nutritional value, but not enough to make it worth throwing it out instead of freezing or using formula. Hope that was helpful.



answers from Chicago on

Medela says 7-8 days. I think you need to smell it to make sure there isn't a soapy funk. I freeze it after 4 days of being in the fridge, though...



answers from Chicago on

I used Friday's milk on Monday for both of my kids and they are healthy and fine. I always read 3-5 days for refrigerator and 6 months for frozen.

It is great that you are working and pumping. Keep it up !




answers from Chicago on

I went by the rule of 5. It was the easiest for me to remember. This was the Northwestern--Prentice Women's recommendations.
5 hours at room temp
5 days in the fridge
5 months in the freezer--keep in mind what type of freezer you have and where the milk is placed. for instance if it's in the door it doesn't remain as cold.



answers from Peoria on

I recall freezing anything we weren't going to use within 24 hours although I'm certain that it was stretched to 30 at times. I was encouraged to freeze my milk and my nurses called it "liquid gold". They assured me that even if it lost a bit of its nutritional value it was still much better than formula. I froze so much milk that my baby used breast milk for four months after I stopped pumping at work.



answers from Chicago on

Hi. I always used the oldest one for the next feeding so that all of the milk in the refrigerator was only a few days old. I would always prepare the milk for freezing twice a week. Then I stored the frozen milk in gallon size bags and put them in the deep freezer. The lansinol bags said 5-7 days in fridge. Then 4-6 months in a regular freezer. However, if you have a deep freezer you can store it longer.



answers from Chicago on

I will begin by saying I'm not trained in the medical field whatsoever. That being said, I've used Friday milk on Mondays many times. I think the golden rule is to keep the milk towards the back corner of the fridge so that it stays cold (keeping it near the door opening tends to raise the temp so it spoils faster). Same is true when you freeze it. On avg. if you keep it in that location, refrigerated milk should be o.k. for 5 days or so. You might want to keep your fridge a little on the colder side if you're planning on keeping expressed milk there. I think there's also something about defrosting frozen milk then refrigerating it - it doesn't keep as long (I think fresh stays fresher longer in the fridge). Check or for more detailed breastfeeding info. Those sites were priceless for me!

FYI: You can't necessarily go by how it tastes! I've tasted my fresh milk and it tastes sweet like vanilla soy milk. I later tasted defrosted milk and it tasted very werid - some say soapy. Even refrigeration changes the taste! The babies don't seem to mind, though. I threw out lots of frozen milk because I thought it had gone bad in the freezer. When I did more research on it, I learned that that was a normal chemical reaction to freezing/refrigerating breastmilk. Weird huh?



answers from Chicago on

Hi S.,

Let me commend you on breastfeeding. You go girl! It's the best milk you can give your baby>

Yes, you can freeze breastmilk. It lasts 3 months in the refrigerator freezer and 6 months in a chest (deep) freezer. No, it doesn't lose any nutritional value at all. You will need to unthaw as you go. Contact your hospital where you gave birth and ask to speak with the lactation specialist. She will be able to give you lots of information about storing your milk. Try and pump and freeze as much as you can so that when your milk production slows down you will still be able to feed your baby.

Check out if the hospital does not have a lactation specialist on staff. They will have lots of information on breastfeeding.

Good luck and keeping feeding and pumping.





answers from Chicago on

My lactation consultant told me that properly stored expressed milk can safely be refrigerated for up to 5-7 days. I always just went with 5 days or less to be on the safe side, being sure to label the milk with the date it was expressed. Freezing the expressed milk does not make it lose any nutrients, although I've heard that microwaving to thaw it can. You might look into ways to thaw frozen breastmilk other than the microwave. I never froze any of mine either, just refrigerated it. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on


the guidelines that I give that are from the Human Milk Bank Association are:

room temperature: 6-10 hours
refrigerator up to 6 days
freezer 3 months

understand this is what we know... they have all been extended.... in practice.

breastmilk that goes bad smells bad/

loss freezing is negligible.

Breastfeeding and Parenting Solutions



answers from Chicago on

Here is the rule I used (I pumped for my son while at work for about 13 months and he never got sick, so I think it was fine what I did...)
fresh pumped milk (never frozen):
in the fridge: 8 days max
out of the fridge: 8 hours max

frozen milk:
in the freezer: 3 months max, or 6 months if you have a deep freeze
thawed, in the fridge: use within 24 hours
thawed, out of the fridge: use within 1-2 hours

When in doubt, throw it out. (Give it a sniff if you're wondering)

In a nutshell, if you don't freeze it, it's more "durable" and will lose fewer nutrients. I almost always saved my Friday milk and gave it to my son on Monday while I was at work. Sometimes I didn't work on Fri/Mon and even then I could save Thursday milk and give it on Tuesday and it was fine. check for more tips.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches