Breast Milk Safe Handling and Storage

  • Wash your hands before expressing milk.
  • If you use a breast pump, review the operation and cleaning instructions.
  • Glass or plastic? Store refrigerated breast milk in plastic (made specifically for storing breast milk) or clean collection bottles. Plastic retains the protective properties of refrigerated breast milk better. You also can freeze breast milk in either plastic or glass containers.
  • Use expressed breast milk stored in the refrigerator. Use refrigerated breast milk within 24 hours. Otherwise freeze it.
  • If you work outside your home, or need to be away, consider stocking a milk supply in your freezer during maternity leave. Breast milk can be frozen:
  • In a freezer compartment inside the refrigerator, not the freezer door, for up to two weeks
  • In a refrigerator-freezer with a separate freezer door for three to four months
  • In a separate freezer at temperatures below 0° F for six months or longer.

Date expressed milk kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Then rotate the milk-first in, first out.

  • Store expressed milk in 2- to 4-ounce portions to avoid wasting unused milk after a feeding. Because bacteria from the baby's mouth can contaminate milk in the bottle, always discard milk that's left in the bottle after feeding.
  • Thaw breast milk in the refrigerator, under warm, running water, or in a pan of water on the stove. Do not thaw or heat breast milk in a microwave oven. Before feeding thawed breast milk, gently shake the container to mix layers that may have become separated. Once thawed, use breast milk within 24 hours; avoid refreezing it.

the body can make vitamin D—but a baby's skin should be protected from sunlight with sunscreen or clothing.

Unlike infant formula and fortified cow milk, breast milk doesn't contain much vitamin D. A vitamin D supplement is advised for all breast-fed babies and babies consuming less than 16 ounces of formula daily.

Other vitamins. Babies of strict vegetarian mothers may need a vitamin B12 supplement. See "The Vegetarian Mom" in chapter 20 for more advice for vegetarian moms who breast-feed.

Always get advice from your baby's healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before giving nutrient supplements to a baby, child, or teen of any age!

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