How long after pumping can I put milk in fridge?

Answered by Frank Schwing

After pumping breast milk, it is important to refrigerate or chill it as soon as possible. This helps to ensure its freshness and prevent the growth of bacteria. Ideally, you should refrigerate or chill the milk immediately after expressing it.

Freshly expressed breast milk can be left at room temperature for a maximum of 4 hours, as long as the room temperature is below 77°F or 25°C. However, if the milk has been very cleanly expressed, it can remain at room temperature for up to 6 to 8 hours. It’s worth noting that room temperature can vary, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution and refrigerate the milk sooner rather than later.

Chilling the milk helps to slow down the growth of bacteria and preserve its quality. The refrigerator is the ideal place to store breast milk because it maintains a consistent temperature of around 39°F (4°C). This is the temperature at which bacteria growth is significantly slowed down, ensuring the milk remains safe for consumption.

When refrigerating breast milk, it’s important to follow a few guidelines to maintain its quality. Here are some tips:

1. Use clean containers: Make sure the bottles or storage bags you use to store the milk are clean and sterilized. This helps to prevent contamination.

2. Store in small portions: It is recommended to store breast milk in small portions, such as 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 120 ml), to minimize waste. This also allows for easier thawing and feeding later on.

3. Label and date: Always label each container with the date it was expressed. This helps you keep track of the freshness of the milk and use it in the correct order.

4. Store at the back of the fridge: Place the containers of breast milk towards the back of the refrigerator, where the temperature is most consistent. Avoid storing them in the door, as the temperature there can fluctuate with frequent opening and closing of the fridge.

5. Avoid adding warm milk to already chilled milk: If you are adding freshly pumped milk to already chilled milk, it is best to cool the freshly pumped milk first before combining them. This helps to avoid raising the temperature of the chilled milk and potentially compromising its quality.

6. Do not refreeze thawed milk: Once breast milk has been thawed, it should not be refrozen. It is best to use it within 24 hours. If there is any leftover thawed milk that cannot be used within that time frame, it is advisable to discard it.

These guidelines will help ensure that your breast milk remains fresh and safe for your baby to consume. Remember, breast milk is a precious resource, and proper storage practices are essential to maintain its quality and nutritional value.