Breast milk provides the perfect nourishment for your little one, according to pediatrician Dr. William Sears. The American Academy of Pediatrics concurs: breastfeeding can help protect your baby from diabetes, ear infections, colitis, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and some cancers. But breastfeeding is not always convenient, especially if you're at work, traveling or in certain circumstances where you don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. Freezing breast milk can allow you to have increased flexibility and freedom while still ensuring your baby is receiving nature's most perfect food.
Things You'll Need
- Glass or hard plastic containers
Buy clean glass bottles, hard plastic containers or plastic bags specially designed for freezing breast milk. Avoid breast milk storage bags for long-term storage in the freezer because they might leak, spill or become contaminated easier than glass or hard plastic containers, according to MayoClinic.com. Breast milk can also stick to the sides of plastic bags during storage, causing some of its essential nutrients to become lost.
Fill the containers with 2 to 4 ounces of breast milk. Each container should contain the amount of milk your baby receives during one feeding. Store plastic bags containing milk inside a glass or plastic container, which will offer increased protection in the event of leakage during storage. Leave around 1 inch of space at the top of each container -- breast milk tends to expand during the freezing process.
Label the containers with your baby's name and the date. Place them in the rear of the freezer, where the temperature is the coldest. Freshly expressed breast milk can be safely stored in a refrigerator freezer for three to six months, according to MayoClinic.com. If you own a chest freezer, breast milk can be stored longer -- for six to 12 months.
Move the frozen container to the refrigerator the day before you plan to use it -- breast milk requires 24 hours to completely thaw. If you need to use the milk immediately, remove the container from the freezer and place it either inside a bowl of warm water or under warm running water until it reaches room temperature. Avoid thawing frozen breast milk at room temperature, which can lead to bacteria developing in the milk, according to KidsHealth.
Tips & Warnings
- Before handling breast milk and storage containers, wash your hands with soap and water.
- Use thawed breast milk within 24 hours. Discard any remaining milk. Avoid refreezing any thawed milk.
- Avoid storing breast milk in plastic bags that are meant for household use or disposable baby bottle liners. .
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