How Long Can Breast Milk Sit Out

Women who pump or hand-express milk for their babies understand that breast milk is like liquid gold. A lot of effort and time goes into getting that milk for your kid, and nobody wishes to see even a drop go to waste. So what occurs if a bottle of breast milk is forgotten on the counter? The length of time can breast milk remain before it’s not safe for your baby?

Here’s what you have to understand about effectively storing, refrigerating, and freezing breast milk, and when it needs to be tossed.

How Long Can Expressed Breast Milk Sit Out?

Whether you hand-express breast milk or use a pump, you’ll need to keep it later. Remember to begin with clean hands, and utilize a tidy, capped container made of glass or difficult plastic without BPA.

Some makers make special plastic bags for breast milk collection and storage, but you must prevent using household plastic bags or disposable bottle liners because of the risk of contamination.

Your method of storage will determine how long expressed breast milk will safely keep. Appropriate storage is crucial so you can maintain both the dietary content and the anti-infection properties.

The perfect circumstance is to cool or otherwise chill breast milk right away after it’s expressed.

La Leche League International shares these guidelines for breast milk storage:

  • Newly expressed breast milk can sit at room temperature level in between 66° and 78°F (25.5°C) for 4 to 6 hours. Ideally, the milk ought to remain in a covered container.
  • Expressed milk can being in an insulated cooler bag with ice packs (around -39°F or 39.4°C) for as much as 24 hours. Expressed milk can being in the refrigerator for in between 72 hours and 8 days.
  • Expressed milk can be kept in the freezer in between 3 and 6 months, and in a deep freezer up to 12 months.

These guidelines are planned for healthy, full-term children. You must speak to your medical professional if you’re pumping milk and your infant has health complications, is hospitalized, or was born prematurely.

Why Is Leaving Breast Milk Out Longer Not Good Idea

Milk that is stored for longer time periods than mentioned above in either the refrigerator or the freezer will lose higher amounts of vitamin C. Also know that a woman’s breast milk is tailored to her baby’s needs. Simply puts, your breast milk changes as your baby grows.

If breast milk is overlooked after being used for a feeding, you might wonder whether it can be utilized for a subsequent feeding. Milk storage standards suggest discarding remaining breast milk after a feeding since of the capacity for bacterial contamination from your infant’s mouth.

And keep in mind, milk that has been left unrefrigerated for longer than 6 hours need to be gotten rid of, despite whether it’s been utilized in a feeding or not.

How to Save Expressed Milk

Follow these best practices for keeping expressed milk:

  • Keep track of stored breast milk with clear labels showing the date that the milk was collected. Use labels and ink that are both water resistant, and include your child’s complete name if you’ll be saving expressed milk at your baby’s daycare.
  • Shop expressed milk at the back of the refrigerator or freezer. That’s where the temperature level is most consistently at its coldest. An insulated cooler can be borrowed if you cannot get expressed milk into the fridge or freezer immediately.
  • Shop expressed milk in containers or packages in smaller sizes. Not only does breast milk broaden throughout the freezer procedure, you’ll help reduce the quantity of breast milk that’s thrown away after a feeding.
  • While you can include newly expressed milk to breast milk that’s been refrigerated or frozen, make sure it’s from the very same day. Ensure to cool the fresh milk totally (you can put in the refrigerator or in a cooler with ice packs) before you integrate it with the milk that’s currently chilled or frozen.
  • Adding warm breast milk can cause frozen milk to thaw, and the majority of specialists do not advise re-freezing thawed milk. This can further break down milk elements and cause an increased loss of antimicrobial properties.

Tips for Pumping and Storing Breast Milk

If you are pumping breast milk for child, there are a couple of guidelines that will make life a lot easier and guarantee that your milk is safe.

  • Wash hands prior to pumping.
  • Usage containers that were effectively sanitized with warm water and soap.
  • Store milk in 1– 2 oz amounts (or whatever you know your kid will finish at a feeding).
  • Leave an inch approximately of space at the top for growth if putting in the freezer.
  • Date each container.
  • Freeze or cool as quickly as possible. If a fridge isn’t offered, an insulated cooler is the next best choice.


It’s best to chill, cool, or freeze breast milk right away after it’s expressed. If expressed milk is excluded unrefrigerated, however it’s in a tidy, covered container, it can sit at room temperature for in between four and 6 hours. Milk that has actually been overlooked for longer need to be discarded.

If you’re in doubt about the length of time expressed breast milk has actually been neglected, err on the side of caution and toss it. It can be challenging to discard expressed breast milk (all that hard work!), however keep in mind: Your baby’s health is the most essential thing.

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