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Women and Family Care

Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

We follow the CDC's guidelines for breast milk storage. Contact WeeSteps with additional questions. Fort Collins: 970.495.8283. Loveland: 970.624.5100
Guidelines for healthy newborns

  • Wash your hands prior to expressing, pumping or handling breast milk.
  • Pumped milk may vary in color and consistency and may separate into layers. Gently swirl (do not shake) the bottle to mix.
  • Avoid adding freshly pumped milk to already cooled or frozen milk. You can add small amounts of cooled breast milk to the same refrigerated container throughout the day.
  • Freeze milk in two to four ounce portions. You will waste less milk this way. Leave room at the top of container so the bottle/bag does not overflow when freezing or thawing.
  • Seal containers tightly. Always date and time container. Use the oldest milk first.
  • Do NOT save any milk left in container after a feeding or "milk drip" that collects in breast shells.
  • Thaw frozen milk gently and gradually, keeping heat low (for example: in a refrigerator overnight, then may be refrigerated for 24 hours; hold container under cool running water or hold container in warm water.
  • Do NOT heat breast milk in microwave or on the stove. This type of heating kills nutrients and creates hot spots in the bottle that could burn your baby.
  • Storage guidelines for milk kept at room temperature may change based on time of year, if you have air conditioning or what household temperature you maintain.
  • Fresh milk can be safely stored in an insulated cooler bag with blue cooler ice packs for 24 hours.
  • Store milk in the back of the refrigerator and away from the door or in a free-standing freezer.
  • If you do not plan on using the milk within a few days, freeze it right away in the coldest section of your freezer.

Milk Storage/Handling

Deep Freeze

(-4° F/ -20° C)                         

Freezer compartment of refrigerator with separate doors

(0° F/-18° C)


(39° F/4° C)

 Insulated Cooler with Ice Packs

(59° F/15° C)

 Room Temperature

(Approx. 70° F)

Fresh Six to 12 months Three to four months Up to five days 24 hours Six to eight hours
Frozen, thawed, in fridge Do not refreeze Do not refreeze 24 hours Do not store Four hours
Thawed, warmed, not fed Do not refreeze Do not refreeze Four hours Do not store  Until feeding ends 
Warmed, fed Discard Discard Discard Discard Until feeding ends
Thawed, warmed, not fed

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