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How Long Does Breast Milk Last?
How Long Does Breast Milk Last?

How Long Does Breast Milk Last?

Breast milk provides all the nutrients for healthy growth and development. Many new mothers express concerns as to how long breast milk may be stored and how to safely use it at a later date. Breast milk may last for varying lengths of time depending on the method of storage. Understanding how long breast milk lasts and the best methods for storing breast milk may help babies receive the optimal nutrition they need for healthy growth and development. 

Breast Milk Storage Guidelines in accordance with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Type of Breast Milk

Room Temperature 77° F or cooler

Refrigerator 40° F

Freezer 0° F or colder

Freshly pumped 

Up to 4 hours

Up to 4 days

Within 6 months

Thawed from frozen

1 to 2 hours

Up to 24 hours

Not advisable to refreeze breast milk after thawed

Left over from a bottle feeding

Use within 2 hours 



How long does breast milk last at room temperature?

Breast milk that has just been expressed may be stored at room temperature for up to six hours. However, if the climate is warmer, consuming or carefully storing the breast milk within four hours is optimal.

How long does breast milk last in the fridge?

Breast milk that has just been expressed may be safely kept for up to four days in the back of the refrigerator. In addition, it is best to use or freeze the milk within three days of storage. 

How long does breast milk last in the freezer?

Newly expressed breast milk may be kept in the freezer for up to 12 months. Nonetheless, it is best to use the frozen milk within six months of the storage date. 

Can breast milk be reheated after it has been refrigerated or frozen?

It is recommended that you use breast milk within 24 hours of defrosting it. It is best to drink breast milk within two hours after it has warmed up or thawed to room temperature. After two hours, it is not recommended to drink breastmilk that has been warmed or thawed.

What is the best approach to thawing frozen breast milk?

  • Thaw the oldest milk first. Use the first-in-first-out method.
  • The best method to thaw frozen breast milk is to hold the frozen bag or bottle under room temperature running water. 
  • It is safe to thaw frozen breast milk in the refrigerator or in a bowl of room-temperature water.  
  • The fatty part of breast milk may separate during the freezing and thawing process. This is okay. Simply swirl the breast milk to mix the separated breast milk. 
  • Testing the breast milk with the back of your hand is important. The breast milk should be body temperature. Warm but not too hot to touch. 
  • It is not safe to thaw breast milk in the microwave. Microwaving breast milk breaks down the nutrients and may create uneven heating. 

Does thawed breast milk smell or look different from freshly expressed breast milk? 

The color of your breast milk may vary depending on what you consume. In addition, the color and odor may change after thawing breast milk. At times, a baby may not prefer thawed breast milk. If this occurs, decrease the storage span and have the baby consume the milk sooner. 

How will I know if breast milk is bad?


Spoiled breast milk may resemble the texture of spoiled cow's milk. You will notice if the breast milk is spoiled because there will be chunks similar to curdled milk. 


Normal breast milk may have a mildly sweet, soapy, or no smell. If you do a smell test and notice that the breast milk smells sour or smells similar to spoiled cow's milk, then it is safe to assume the milk is not good anymore and should be thrown away. 

If you feed spoiled breast milk to your baby, you may run the risk of making your baby ill. 


Your breast milk may vary in taste depending on your diet or what you consumed that day. Fresh breast milk usually tastes sweet, like sweetened almond milk. In addition, certain infections, such as Mastitis, may cause your breast milk to taste salty. However, breast milk is still perfectly safe to consume. If your breast milk is spoiled, it will have a sour taste. 

Breast milk storage tips

Safely storing your breast milk is crucial to protecting your baby from bacteria found in spoiled breast milk. 

Tips to avoid breast milk from spoiling:

  • If you pump while away from home, consider storing fresh breast milk in a small cooler.
  • Milk may be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours. However, storing breast milk in a refrigerator or freezer is best.  
  • Label your breast milk with the date and number of ounces on each bag. 
  • Store breast milk in the back of the freezer or refrigerator. 
  • Do not store breast milk in the freezer or refrigerator door. 
  • Breast milk may stay in the refrigerator for up to six days. 
  • Use the proper milk storage bags explicitly designed to store breast milk. 
  • Practice the first-in-first-out method. 
  • Do not keep breast milk in the freezer for longer than six months. 
  • Do not use the microwave to thaw breast milk. 

Some of our favorite breastfeeding products

The right nursing products can help ease your breastfeeding journey. Some of our favorite products include:

Belly Bandit® Bandita Nursing Bra

This seamless nursing bra offers a wide bottom band that allows for a comfortable yet secure fit. In addition, we made breastfeeding easy by featuring a one-hand clasp release for easy nursing access. 

Belly Bandit® Active Support™ Nursing Sports Bra

After birth, you may feel eager to return to the gym and resume exercise. Our high-performance, high-impact nursing bra allows an easy one-hand clasp to breastfeed your baby while exercising. In addition, there are three rows of adjustability to accommodate your breast size as they change. Lastly, the moisture-wicking fabric keeps you dry by absorbing moisture and sweat. 

In conclusion, breast milk is important for new mothers to understand proper storage. By following proper guidelines, new mothers can ensure their babies receive the best nutrients in a safe manner to help them grow and develop into healthy children,