Safe Storage Times for Healthy Babies

At room temperature: up to 4 hours

In a cooler with a freezer pack: 24 hours

Fresh milk in the refrigerator: 5 days

Thawed milk in the refrigerator: 24 hours

A refrigerator freezer with a separate door: up to 6 months

Deep Freeze: Up to 12 months

Remember to transport your expressed breast milk (or formula) in a cooler bag with an ice pack on hot summer days.  Outside temperatures are much hotter than room temperature.

  • Use clean glass, plastic containers that are BPA free, or bags made for freezing breastmilk
  • Do not use baby bottle liners as they may break
  • Mark the date on your container.  Use older milk first
  • Store breastmilk in small amounts
  • Do not store milk in the door of your refrigerator.  Store the milk near the back of the refrigerator where the temperature is the coldest
  • You can add fresh cooled breastmilk (to be frozen) to milk that is already frozen and return it to the freezer. 
  • Label the container with the date of the first pumping
  • When freezing breastmilk, leave a 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) space at the top of the container
  • Thaw frozen breastmilk for 8 – 12 hours in the refrigerator, or under warm water
  • Throw away breastmilk that has been thawed for more than 24 hours
  • Do not refreeze breastmilk
  • Breastmilk should never be heated in a microwave
  • Throw out any milk your baby does not finish at a feeding

If you are expressing for a sick or premature baby in the hospital

  • Always put your milk in the refrigerator within 1 hour
  • Do not store breastmilk longer than 2 days in the fridge
  • Label breastmilk clearly with your name, date and time prior to taking it to the hospital