Back when I was pregnant with my first child, one of the first things I Googled was, "How to store breast milk?" I knew it involved a container of some kind, but I was surprised to find that there are in fact many storage solutions on the market.
Below is a list of pros and cons of three common types, two of which I have tried. Or, if you're interested in knowing how long breast milk can be stored, jump to the end of the article where I've personally designed a handy diagram for safe breast milk storage times.
1) Breast Milk Storage Cups / Containers / Bottles
- All-in-one solution - Storage bottles are usually compatible with the feeding bottles and breast pump of that particular brand, which means you can express directly into them, screw on the lid, and pop it straight into the fridge or freezer for storage. Then when you need it, simply thaw, warm up, and replace the lid with bottle teat.
- Freezer and dishwasher safe
- Easy to use when out-and-about
- Takes up space - If you are exclusively expressing, you would need several cups a day depending on how often you pump. And if you want to have a week's worth of backup stash in the freezer, that's several dozen cups sitting in the freezer.
- Breakable - According to Medala's official website, "Plastic bottles and component parts become brittle when frozen and may break when dropped."
- Slow to defrost - Takes up to 12 hours to defrost in the fridge; an hour in standing water; and even under warm running water it can take 5-10 mins.
2) Breast Milk Storage Bags
- Compact, saves space - You can easily have a month's supply of breast milk in the freezer with storage bags. Prior to freezing, you can either open them up at the base so they're standing or flatten and stack them lying down.
- Easy to label - Breast milk doesn't store forever (see storage guide at the end of this article), labelling the bags with the date of storage ensures you know when to use it by.
- Quick to defrost - Because the bags are thinner than cups, the breast milk inside defrosts in a few minutes when you place them under warm running water and gently "massage" the frozen milk as it melts. This means you can take them out of the freezer only when you need them.
- Disposable - Saves time, but doesn't save the environment or your money.
- Not ideal for travelling - Once the breast milk is defrosted and the bag is soft, it can easily be punctured by anything sharp in your bag.
- Breast milk wastage - There will always be a tiny bit of milk left in the bag after you pour it out.
3) Breast Milk Storage Trays
- Freezer and dishwasher safe
- Multipurpose - Many storage trays are also designed to freeze baby food, and some of the silicone ones like these Weanmeister Freezer Pods are even good for baking!
- Use what you need - Since the breast milk is frozen into tiny measured portions, you can defrost the exact amount you need for a particular feed, or quickly defrost additional ones if baby is hungry for more.
- Time-consuming - First you need to carefully pour the expressed breast milk into each cubicle, then freeze the tray; afterwards, you pop the cubes out and place them into zip lock bags and label them with the date. (Note: Zip locks bags are not sterilised, so you run the risk of contamination.)
- Home-based solution - The tray is really meant to be used at home only. For travel, you would need to pack the cubes into another storage solution like a bottle, cup, or breast milk bag.
- Easy to spill - If you don't have gentle, steady hands, it's easy to accidentally spill the breast milk when pouring, or when putting on the tray lid.
What is the Best Way to Store Breast Milk?
The best storage solution for breast milk largely depends on how often you pump, how much you want to store, and whether you'd like a travel-friendly solution. It's a good idea to have a mixture of storage solutions, so you adapt and use whatever is most suitable for the purpose of the breast milk. For example, I use storage bags for my
For example, I use storage bags for my backup milk stash, and storage bottles when I think I will be using the milk within the next three days, in which case I wouldn't freeze it. I would just leave it in the fridge so I don't need to defrost it when I'm in a hurry.
And speaking of storage solutions, you'll definitely need this illustrative guide I designed so you know how long breast milk can be stored. Enjoy!
Breast Milk Storage Guide
I hope this comparison article has been helpful, do leave a comment and let me know what has been your experience of using these storage solutions, and whether you think I've left anything out.
Happy motherhood! xoxo