Stored breast milk is the next best thing if the fresh option isn’t available. So, how long can you freeze breast milk for? We’ll answer this below and provide some tips for properly storing breast milk in the freezer.
How Long Can You Store Breast Milk in the Freezer?
If you don’t think you’ll use your freshly expressed breast milk within 4 days of refrigeration, then you should freeze it right away. This can help protect the quality of breast milk.
In the freezer, breast milk can last up to 12 months, but using it within about 6 months is optimal. While it’s true that freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, you should follow the recommended storage for the best quality.
Tip for Freezing Breast Milk
- Make sure you clearly label the breast milk container with the exact date you expressed it.
- Do not store breast milk in the door of the freezer. This will help protect the integrity of breast milk from temperature changes as the door opens and closes.
- Be sure to freeze breast milk in small amounts of 2 to 4 ounces (or the amount that corresponds be one feeding) to save time when thawing and avoid wasting breast milk in case your baby doesn’t finish it.
- When freezing breast milk, allow about one inch of space at the top of the container because breast milk expands as it freezes.
- Always thaw the oldest breast milk first.
- Never thaw or heat breast milk in a microwave as it can destroy nutrients in breast milk.
- To thaw frozen breast milk, you can try several ways including leaving it in the refrigerator overnight, setting it in a container with warm or lukewarm water, and keeping it under lukewarm running water.
So, how long can you freeze breast milk for? Breast milk can be stored safely in the freezer for 6 months, but with a quality freezer, you can store breast milk for up to 12 months.