Mother, Daughter and Childs Daughter

Women and Newborn Health Service

Services A – Z

King Edward Memorial Hospital
Breastfeeding Centre of WA

Storage of breast milk

Freshly expressed breast milk (EBM) should be cooled before being added to previously expressed chilled or frozen milk.

Breast milk Room temperature Refrigerator Freezer
Freshly expressed into a clean container

6 to 8 hours (26°C or lower)

3 to 5 days (4°C or lower)

Two weeks in freezer compartment inside a refrigerator

  Store in refrigerator if one is available Store in back of refrigerator where it is coldest

Three months in freezer section of refrigerator (with separate door)

      6 to 12 months in deep freeze (-18°C or lower)

* Australian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents table. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia reproduced by permission.

Thawing and warming of breast milk

Frozen EBM must be warmed quickly but NOT in boiling water, as the milk will curdle.

DO NOT leave EBM to stand at room temperature to thaw.

Place the container under running cold water. Gradually make the water warmer until the milk becomes liquid.

Warm the container of chilled or thawed EBM in a jug of hot water until it is body temperature.

Microwave ovens should NEVER be used to thaw or heat milk. Their safety is unknown and heating is uneven.

EBM cannot be reheated if your baby doesn’t finish the feed – so warm only a small amount at a time.


Thawed EBM:

  • That has not been warmed can be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours
  • That is not refrigerated must be used within four hours
  • Must not be re-frozen

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