How long can i keep frozen breast milk?
If you’re a new mom, congratulations! You’ve got a little one to take care of now, and that means making sure your baby is well-fed. If you choose to breastfeed, then you need to be aware of how long breast milk can last when it’s frozen.
So, how long can you keep frozen breast milk? Let’s dive in and find out!
Freezing Breast Milk
Before we get into how long frozen breast milk lasts, let’s talk about freezing breast milk first. When storing your liquid gold in the freezer, there are a few things that you should keep in mind:
- Use BPA-free storage bags or containers: Plastic #1 (PETE) or Plastic #5 (PP) are safe plastic materials that won’t leak chemicals into your milk.
- Never use glass jars: Glass jars may break during freezing or thawing.
- Leave some space at the top: Your breastmilk will expand once it freezes. It’s important not to fill the container all the way up as this could cause leaks and spills.
- Label everything: Include dates so that whoever takes care of feeding baby later on knows which bag is which.
Now let’s get back to answering our question!
How Long Can You Keep Frozen Breast Milk?
The good news is that breastmilk can be safely stored in the freezer for up to 12 months! However, it does depend on various factors such as temperature fluctuations and air quality inside your freezer.
To ensure maximum safety for baby:
Freeze Your Milk ASAP
Try freezing your pumped milk within 24 hours after pumping. This helps reduce bacterial growth in stagnant room temperature.
Avoid Frequent Temperature Changes
Avoid frequent opening and closing of refrigerator/freezer doors if possible; risk exposing contents including precious BM^. Position bags filled with BM towards bottom / middle section of the freezer to avoid constant exposure of temperature fluctuations.
Store Milk at Optimum Frozen Temperature
Make sure the breast milk is stored at a constant temperature below 0°F (-17°C). Remember not to keep it near ice cream, popsicles, or anything in your freezer that needs higher temps to maintain its structure.
How Can You Tell If Your Breastmilk Has Gone Bad?
Breast milk may contain bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause illness for infants with immune systems yet to reach their full potential. So you want to make sure you are feeding safe, healthy milk all the time!
One way of ensuring safety is by checking if your frozen breastmilk has gone bad:
- First look: check for any change in appearance such as sour smell or discoloration.
- Thaw test: thaw a small amount of frozen milk overnight and then give it a sniff/taste test before warming.
If there’s no rancidity detected during these checks then go ahead safely use the BM within guidelines mentioned above!
^BM – Breast Milk
After 12 months, consider using up remaining supplies first before moving on freshly pumped supply. If left beyond storage duration limits set by La Leche League International, then don’t feed it and discard carefully instead.
Some signs that BM has been contaminated are swirling flakes, strong smell from BM after thawing (not just sweet scent), yellowish/brown tinted observed upon thawing out etc gives indication required attention towards BF pattern / hygiene standards placed while expressing earlier.
La Leche League International recommends 6-12months max depending on each individual’s cooling technique/ defrosting process.
However long one can store, remember fresh expressed/supplemented with supplementary foods will always trump leftovers! Happy storing~~