Breast Milk Storage

http://greenlitebites.com/2011/06/02/breast-milk-storage/
BreastMilkStorage

I’m taking a slight detour from my normal food musings to share a quick tip for fellow nursing moms.

I already had a video outlining my approach to store breast milk but it was long and didn’t really need to be. So Little Bean and I set up the camera and I ran through the idea real quick.

Below the video is the step the step instructions and if you have a spare 7 minutes you can click here to watch the original. I’m learning to get to the point much faster these days. :)

The idea here is simple.. use a regular old gift bag and your standard breast milk storage bags to create an easy system to store and retrieve your frozen breast milk.

Supplies Needed

Supplies for the Breast Milk Storage Technique

  • Breast milk bags
    (like Lansinoh Breast milk Storage Bags)
  • A gift bag large just large enough to fit
    the breast milk bag
    (most standard size ones work)
  • a pair of scissors
  • scotch tape

The Set Up

Step 1. Make sure a breast milk storage bag frozen with milk will lay flat in the gift bag.

Fill the breast milk bag with milk and lay it flat in your freezer. Once frozen, attempt to lay the flattened bag of milk on the bottom of the gift bag. If it just fits and lays flat, you are good to go!

Note: The label portion of the bag, above the ziplock (the part without milk) may be squished on the side of the bag, that’s OK! As long as the frozen milk part can lay flat.

Now that you know the breast milk can fit in your bag, remove it and return it to the freezer.

Step 2. Cut a dispensing slit on the bottom of the gift bag

Using the scissors cut a slit on the side of the gift bag just high enough where a frozen breast milk bag can be pulled out. Use the scotch tape to protect the edges of the slot.

Lay your frozen breast milk bags in the gift bag where the label portion can be seen through the slot.

Cut 1 in gift bagcut 2 in gift bag

Step 3. Store away!

Now the gift bag can be used to not only store your breast milk that is frozen flat but it also acts as a dispenser allowing you to use the older milk first.

You now have a simple breast milk storage dispenser for your freezer! The best part is, the milk is stored flat for fast defrosting.

Finished Breast Milk DispenserFinished breast milk dispenser in freezer

Hope you find the trick useful.
If you have any questions or tips you want to share please leave a comment

Storage Guidelines (from LLL)

All milk should be dated before storing. Storing milk in 2-4 ounce amounts may reduce waste. Refrigerated milk has more anti-infective properties than frozen milk. Cool fresh milk in the refrigerator before adding it to previously frozen milk.

Preferably, human milk should be refrigerated or chilled right after it is expressed. Acceptable guidelines for storing human milk are as follows. Store milk:

  • at room temperature for 4 hours (ideal), up to 6 hours (acceptable) (Some sources use 8 hours)
  • in a refrigerator for 72 hours (ideal); up to 8 days (acceptable)
  • in a freezer for 6 months (ideal) up to 12 months (acceptable)
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52 Comments and 4 Replies

  1. Brandi

    I won’t be needing this advice for a long time to come, BUT that is one impressive idea!!

    I’ll definitely keep that in mind for future mini-brandi’s (should there ever be a need…) :)

    Thanks for being so inventive!

  2. Hally

    Not needed in our home these days…(maybe someday again?)….but I made these for some girlfriends who were nursing and they were HUGE hits. :)

    1. Britt

      No. The idea is to use the oldest one first. If you reached in to grab one out you would use the newest one first.

  3. Jessica

    This is genius! I just had my 3rd daughter 3 weeks ago so you can bet I will be making this tonight! With my other girls, our freezer was a MESS since I had such a stockpile.

  4. Shena Lantroop

    And here I was about to go and buy some fancy [expensive] storage trays! HA! I have a ton of gift bags from baby showers… haha… I can even have a baby theme on the bag! Sweeet. =)

  5. Nicole

    This is such a clever idea!! I’m with Jessica, my freezer was a mess. I am no longer breastfeeding but wish I had been so brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Carmen

    Hi Roni,

    I’m pregnant and am going to breast feed for the first time and I am on the search for a pump. If you don’t mind telling me, what brand pump do you use, could you recommend any? Thanks!!

  7. TheFeministBreeder

    Totally genius. I could have used this when I was pumping at work with my last baby. This time I’ll be pumping while at school three days a week starting in the fall, so I’ll be sure to remember this!

    Also, the Lansinoh bags are my favorite storage bags too – I just wish they were WHO code complaint, dangit!

  8. Nena

    I LOVE THIS!!! Why didn’t I think of doing something like this? My life is going to be so much easier! Thank you thank you thank you!

  9. Denise

    While this is a creative idea, I thought that its best for the milk not to be frozen before feeding to our little ones? I bought a few extra bottles (saved money on disposable bags this way), and would just have my caregiver feed Appleseed what I pumped the day before. This way, she would get the freshest milk possible. We would use frozen milk for supplementation purposes only (e.g., on Fridays, when I wasn’t producing as much…)?

  10. roni

    Denise – I’m sure fresh is the best but I was going for a back up supply.

    Plus, don’t you think keeping a supply in the freezer for emergency backup is a good idea? What if you get injured or need to tend to a family emergency and must leave the baby with a sitter? what wil he/she eat?

    These can be many reasons why you would freeze. I’m not here to argue if fresh or frozen is better just offering up a tip to those that do want to freeze.

  11. Amber Canaan

    @Denise,
    There isn’t any reason why breastmilk shouldn’t be frozen. Some mothers have to if they are returning to work and some mothers choose not to nurse at the breast at all, and only give pumped milk. For both of the mama’s, having a good supply of milk in the freezer is necessary. Relying solely on the milk you pump the day before can be stressful.

  12. roni

    Carmen – I’m using a hand me down medela pump right now and it’s great. Even with only one working side. With my first I rented one from a medical supply store.

    Honestly, I don’t have a recommendation besides go electric. With my first I thought I’d be fine with a hand pump.. I never got enough.

  13. Amy @ Experience Imagination

    Brilliant idea! I wish I’d ever been able to pump enough to freeze. I had low supply with both my little ones and pumped to try to boost it up. I tried just about every brand on the market and I highly recommend the Medela electric pumps. They retail for about $300, so I definitely had to save up, but I found they got the most milk out.

  14. Christine

    I just forwarded a link to a friend…I had told her about this idea when she first came back to work, but now she can see/read it for herself instead of trying to understand my description. I was never able to pump enough to freeze (twins) but I love the idea.

  15. Erin

    Wow! Awesome idea! Just yesterday I was trying to figure out how to arrange my frozen milk so that the oldest would be used first. I cannot wait to make my own gift bag dispenser. Thanks for your creativity, Roni!

  16. Kathleen

    I want to thank you for your fantastic idea! I’m a new breastfeeding (pumping) mom of twins and have an ABUNDANCE of milk. We have quickly run out of space in our fridge/freezer. My husband’s solution to our over abundant supply of milk was to dump. I’m just too emotionally invested to do that plus since my babies are only 2 months old, I want more than needed just in case I “dry up”, have an emergency where I am away from the girls or have some unforseen event happen that would prevent me from pumping for a few days.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! :)

  17. Bridgette

    Great Idea! When I was (nursing and) pumping, my freezer was SO full of milk that we couldn’t have any frozen food in it. Great plan & if I have occasion to pump again, I will use it.

  18. S

    Great idea for first-in-first-out storage solution for milk! You should try it with the Honeysuckle milk bags too- they are biodegradeable and just as strong and easy as the lansinoh ones.

  19. Babs

    Hey, so I have a question! I have a baby with a severe feeding difficulty who requires supplements multiple times a day with a special needs feeder, so I have to pump constantly and my freezer is just PILED with bags so I was super excited to see this! However, upon trying it, it failed miserably. :(
    First of all: my bags are filled with 3oz or more at a time, and so they don’t lay completely flat like yours do (do you have 2oz or less in yours?). Second, I searched EVERYWHERE and can’t find the gift bags as small as the one you use in the video. The smallest ones I could find are about half again as large, so there’s room lengthwise and widthwise around the bags… which means when I put them in they sort of flop all over the place in a big pile. They absolutely won’t stay in a nice neat line. :( I was so disappointed. The only way I could get this to work was to put them all upright (After freezing flat) with the hole and sort of pull them out from the bottom… but the problem with that is that unless I’m constantly refilling it from the opposite end they all tilt in one direction and fall. Anyway, this is awesome but I’m not sure how to get it to work for me. :(

  20. roni

    Babs – Sorry you are having trouble. All my bags of milk were anywhere from 3-6oz. So they do bulge a little but freeze flat enough to do this. I’ve gotten the bags at dollar stores and target. I’m not sure where you are but in my area they seem to be the most common size and cheapest bags.

    I hope that helps. Good luck!

  21. Nancy

    Hi –

    This is a great idea, but please do not put unfrozen milk on top of frozen milk until it too is frozen. It will melt the milk that is under it a bit, which will then refreeze. In the same way, don’t put freshly expressed milk into a container with already cold milk. Please double check this with La Leche League.

  22. Tori

    Just wanted to say this idea is genius! It’s a great way to use all those baby gift bags and a much better way to store frozen milk. I was trying to put mine sideways in a shoe box and it wasn’t working out. Thanks for sharing.

  23. ramz

    Hi roni,
    i loved ur video about storing the milk.. but my question is how did u manage to get so much milk for 2 (?!) years.. amazing.. pls guide me.. im a mother of 6 months baby boy and running low on supply.. ;( ;(.. pls help! Thanksin advance

  24. roni

    Hi Ramz! I only nursed for 7-8 months. Not sure where you are getting 2 years. I can’t really advise past that point. Both my boys transitioned to solids and forumla around 8 months and then to whole milk at 1 year.

    Sorry. :(

  25. Rusti

    PURE.BRILLIANCE. I’m still trying to figure out how I will get it to work for me (our freezer is a drawer in the bottom portion of the fridge, as well as a deep chests freezer, so the dispenser might not work as well as a standing freezer) but I’m SO excited to find this. what a great idea!! :)

  26. Katie

    Awesome!! I’m been searching the web trying to find a better way to store my milk. I’m so glad I came across this. I had been storing my milk in the tall narrow ice buckets. It works ok, but the bags are just a little too wide so I have them angled and can’t fit a whole lot in them. I can’t wait to try this out tomorrow!! Thanks so much!

  27. Tiffany

    My gift bag was just slightly too big, and the milk bags wanted to slide over to the side. I just stuffed two grocery bags along the inside and now the milk stays in place! Thanks for sharing this idea! I saw it just after I finished breastfeeding my daughter, but sent it along to a friend who had just had a baby. I now have a 3 month old son and just today made my own! My husband thought it was genius. Just wish I could take credit for the idea!

  28. Jenny

    I recently discovered that Keurig k-cup 24 count boxes are the perfect size to store frozen breast milk bags upright. I tear off the top of the box (easy because its perforated) and freeze the bags flat and once they’re frozen they fit perfectly. I just add the newest bags to the back so the oldest are always in front, and I can read the tags easily. One box fits 18-20 bags.

  29. Allison

    This is brilliant! We just bought an upright freezer to keep all the milk in and the shelves are exactly the right height for a gift bag full of milk. Thanks for posting!

  30. Vanessa

    This helped me SO much! I’ll be returning to work in a few weeks & have started to build my storage for daycare. I love in a small apartment & my freezer is the standard size & I’m quickly running our of space. I’ve bought some tray type things from babiesrus & target but still the space is filling up fast & I’ve thought about buying a small deep freezer ($200) but I’m going to give the gift bag system a try. Thanks!

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