Bottoms up! How to use expressed breast milk

As with any other milk, breast milk can spoil easily if it’s not stored properly. Spoiled milk can give off a funky smell and should never be fed to your baby. Sometimes, though, you might not be able to tell if your expressed breast milk is spoiled or not. So, instead of feeling unsure about what you’re feeding your baby, here are some guidelines on how to store expressed breast milk:

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How to store expressed breast milk:

  • Bottles used for storage must be sterilized and air dried to prevent contamination. Commercial storage bags are available for use.
  • Label the bottle with the date of storage and amount.
  • Amount of breast milk per container should be considered. Preferably, one bottle is to one feeding. This prevents the possibility of exposing the unused amount to air particles, causing contamination.
  • Thawed frozen milk is not advisable for refreezing.  Temperature fluctuation may promote spoilage.
  • The amount of time for breast milk to be safely stored for use by infants in a home-based situation is given in the table below. (Source: Wikipedia)


Place of storage


Maximum storage time

In a room 25°C 77°F Six to eight hours
Insulated thermal bag with ice packs Up to 24 hours
In a refrigerator 4°C 39°F Up to five days
Freezer compartment inside a refrigerator -15°C 5°F Two weeks
A combined refrigerator and freezer with separate doors -18°C 0°F Three to six months
Chest or upright manual defrost deep freezer -20°C -4°F Six to twelve months


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 How to warm frozen expressed breast milk:

  • Take out the exact amount, needed for a single feeding.
  • Do not leave frozen milk to defrost at room temperature. A chemical reaction, due to the presence of lipase, an enzyme responsible for digesting fats, may occur as the milk slowly thaws. When this happens, the milk may generate a soapy taste that the infant may reject.
  • Scalding the milk, in an 82 degreee centigrade or until bubbles appears along the edge of the pan, before storing it may deactivate the lipase.
  • Quickly chill the milk, and then store it as desired.
  • Thaw it in the refrigerator for about 12 hours, keeping it from exposure to room temperature. For a faster method, run cool water through it and gradually increase its temperature.
  • Warm it by setting the bottle in a pan of hot water or holding it under a faucet of running hot water. When using a pan of water on the stove, do not allow the pan to boil dry or else, the bottle milk may burst.


How to feed your baby warmed expressed breast milk:

  • Check the temperature of the milk before giving it to your baby by testing a drop or two on the inside of your wrist.
  • Swirling the container afterwards is necessary to mix the cool and warm portion. Usually, the center part of the bottle is much hotter than its distal portion.
  • Disposable bottles with plastic liners shouldn’t be heated, as they will just melt and leak during feeding.
  • The milk may last for 24 hours, refrigerated but not frozen. In cases when the milk taste and smells unpleasantly, just after thawing, it’s recommended not to make use of it. If you are in doubt of whether it is spoiled or not, just toss it. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your baby!


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