What is the shelf life of breast milk?

Kim - posted on 01/22/2009 ( 9 moms have responded )

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What is the breast milk shelf life at room temp? What is the breast milk shelf life in the fridge? and what is the shelf life of breast milk frozen? also, if she starts on a breast milk bottle and doesn't finish, can we put it back in the fridge?

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Regina - posted on 08/09/2011

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here's what my chart from the WIC office says: up to 4 hours at room temp(below 72 degrees), up to a week in fridge, up to 6 months in a refrigerator freezer, and up to 1 year in a deep freezer. also you can only reheat breast milk once. as for milk that has been frozen and then thawed out you should never heat it and then reheat it, only keep it in the fridge for 2 days and never re-freeze it.

Jen - posted on 08/09/2011

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I have read in books that it is 6 hours at room temp, 24 hours in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer. If she has drank from the bottle already, it is good for an hour and then must be disgarded.
That is what my research has shown.

Debbie - posted on 01/22/2009

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we also used the 555 rule - sort of. 5 hrs. at room temp., 5 (up to 7) days in the fridge, up to 6 mos. in the freezer (or 12 in a chest freezer). breastmilk is fine up to 24 hrs. after being thawed (NOT warmed, thawed in fridge). once warmed and used, it must be used within 4 hrs and after that the remainder must be thrown away. we have a lot of experience in my family - i am a full-time working mom and my daughter had exclusive breastmilk through 6 mos. and she never got sick. tip, if the milk is sour, your baby will not drink it.

Joanie - posted on 01/23/2009

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You will get all sorts of different responses about the shelf life of breast milk. That's because nobody really knows the right answer (as in doctors, scientists, etc). I tend to be more cautious. I learned up to 8 hours at room temp (although that makes me nervous, I wouldn't go more than 5) a week in the fridge, 3 months in a regular freezer and 6 months in a deep freezer. Use thawed milk within 24 hours and never heat up cold milk (or any food) and then return it to the fridge. That makes it hard when you don't want to waste milk!

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Stef - posted on 01/23/2009

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I just did my research ( again, on #3) and everything is always changing.

I read room temp up to 12 hrs? furthest I have gone is about 4

freezer 6 mo, fridge.. a week.

I also read that if you intend on using it w/in a week its best to store in fridge. You can keep a bottle they sipped on for like a hour or so....thats what "they" say this year

Sharon - posted on 01/22/2009

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I don't believe you can put milk back in the refrigerator that your baby has already drank from. At least I was told not to. Depends on who you speak with but I was told that as long as the milk was in a deep freezer frozen at 0 degrees, I have a year to use it up.

Stephanie - posted on 01/22/2009

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I agree with Kirsten - the 5 rule makes it easy to remember the shelf life of breast milk. However I heard that 5 weeks in your freezer (the one you open and close daily) and 5 months in the deep freeze (or back of your freezer). Do not re-freeze or re-refridgerate milk that you have already used. On your last question - if it's fresh milk (just pumped), the you could put it back in the fridge. We learned to portion the milk in 3 ounce containers at first, that way we guaranteed we'd have no leftovers and not have to deal with that.

[deleted account]

I've heard the 555 rule.  5 hours at room temp, 5 days in the fridge, 5 months in the freezer.  I've also heard that you need to use milk within one hour of thawing/warming it and you should throw away any leftovers.  Hope this helps!

Stephanie - posted on 01/22/2009

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I agree with Kirsten - the 5 rule makes it easy to remember the shelf life of breast milk. However I heard that 5 weeks in your freezer (the one you open and close daily) and 5 months in the deep freeze (or back of your freezer). Do not re-freeze or re-refridgerate milk that you have already used. On your last question - if it's fresh milk (just pumped), the you could put it back in the fridge. We learned to portion the milk in 3 ounce containers at first, that way we guaranteed we'd have no leftovers and not have to deal with that.

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