Request Appointment

Storing Breast Milk

You can express breast milk and store it in clean containers. Your partner or a sitter can feed your milk to the baby. This way, your baby gets the benefits of breast milk even when you can’t be there at feeding time.

Type of storage

Storage times

Room temperature


  • At room temperature (up to 77°F or 25°C)

  • Tip: Keep the container covered and cool.

6 to 8 hours



  • In a refrigerator (39°F or 4°C)

  • Tip: Place milk in the back of the main body of the refrigerator.

5 days

Refrigerator freezer


  •  Tip: Store milk toward the back of the freezer.


  •  Freezer compartment with separate doors (0°F or -18°C)

3 to 6 months

Chest or upright deep freezer (-4°F or -20°C)

6 to 12 months

Guidelines for breast milk storage

Always use a clean container to collect and store breast milk. Never pour warm expressed breast milk into a bottle with cold milk. And be sure to label and date each bottle or bag of milk. To store breast milk safely, see the chart above.

Source: Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. (Original protocol March 2004; revision 1 March 2010.)

Warming stored milk

Baby bottle filled with milk in measuring cup of water.

Thaw frozen breast milk in the refrigerator or in a bowl of warm water. Before using it, warm any breast milk that has been in the refrigerator. For your baby’s safety:

  • Use the oldest milk first

  • Warm a container of milk by putting it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Do not use hot water. Or use a bottle warmer set on low.

  • Gently swirl the milk to mix it. Then place  a few drops on your wrist. The milk should be near room temperature.

  • DO NOT put the milk in a microwave. This could create pockets of hot liquid that can burn the baby’s mouth.


Was this helpful?

Yes No

Tell us more.

Check all that apply.

Last question: How confident are you filling out medical forms by yourself?

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit Extremely

Thank You!

 Visit Other Fairview Sites 
(c) 2012 Fairview Health Services. All rights reserved.