Safe storage for your infant's milk

Tips for properly labeling and storing breast milk for your baby.

When caring for and feeding babies, parents and caregivers want to ensure the quality of the breast milk being pumped, stored and served. There are food safety practices that can help maintain the breast milk at its highest quality. Michigan State University Extension recommends parents and caregivers follow the practices below to keep the breast milk safe for consumption:

  • Properly label the milk with the date it was expressed in a manner that is readable for all to see. This will allow parents and caregivers to use the oldest milk first before the new supply.
  • Do not mix fresh milk with already frozen milk within a storage container. It is best not to mix the two.
  • Do not save milk from a used bottle for use at another feeding.
  • Thoroughly clean breast pump and parts after each use.
  • When thawing breast milk:
    • Thaw frozen breast milk by placing it in the refrigerator for thawing or by swirling it in a bowl of warm water.
    • The microwave is not recommended to thaw or heat bottles of breast milk. Microwave ovens do not heat liquids evenly. Uneven heating could easily scald a baby and excess heat can destroy the nutrient quality of the expressed milk.
    • After thawing of breast milk, do not refreeze breast milk.

The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics has an outline and chart for proper storage recommendations.

Working parents should have a conversation with their childcare providers about policies related to the proper use of and storage of breast milk. Some childcare sites have formal polices in place, others more informal. All childcare staff should be willing to work with parents to safely store, label and thaw breast milk for feeding your baby.

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