Human Milk Storage Information For Home

Use In Term Infants

Room Temperature         60-85 F          3-4 hours optimal

                                                           6-8 hours reasonable


Insulated Cooler Bag        59 F              Up to 24 hours

with Ice Pack



Refrigerator                     < 39 F            72 hours optimal

                                                           6-8 days reasonable



Freezer                            < 0 F             6 months optimal

                                                         12 months reasonable

Mom breatfeeding baby.

Recommendations for Optimal Human Milk Storage

Always wash hands thoroughly with warm soapy water before milk expression. Numerous studies have shown that human milk containing fewer bacteria at the time of expression not only develops less bacterial growth during storage, but has higher protein levels compared to milk that has an abundance of pathogenic bacteria. Never leave pump parts in the sink basin where they can collect bacteria. To clean, take apart all pumping parts and wash thoroughly with warm soapy water. Set to dry on a clean dry surface before storing. Never wash tubing. 

Common Questions: 

How long is expressed milk good in the refrigerator/freezer?

That would depend on the cleanliness of the conditions it was collected under and where in the refrigerator/freezer it is being stored. When storing human milk in the refrigerator or freezer always store in the back in the coldest part. Never in the door where there is constant temperature fluctuation. 

If I thaw and warm milk from the freezer, can I refreeze it if I do not end up using it?


Once frozen milk is brought to room temperature, its ability to inhibit bacterial growth is lessened by 24 hours after thawing. There is little information on refreezing of thawed human milk. Bacterial growth and loss of antibacterial activity in thawed milk will vary depending on the technique of milk thawing, duration of the thaw, and the amount of bacteria in the milk at the time of expression. At this time no recommendations can be made on the refreezing of thawed human milk. 


If my baby doesn't drink a full bottle, can I put it back in the refrigerator and use it later? 


Once baby's mouth touches a container of expressed breast-milk, some bacterial contamination occurs in the milk from the baby’s mouth. The duration of time the milk can be kept at room temperature once the baby has partially fed from the cup or bottle would depend on the initial bacterial load in the milk, how long the milk has been thawed, and the ambient temperature. There have been no studies done to provide recommendations regarding the reuse of human milk in this regard. The evidence we currently have deems it reasonable to dispose of the remaining milk within 1–2 hours after the feeding.