How long can breast milk stay out after refrigeration?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How long can breast milk stay out after refrigeration?”, discuss answers to other related questions like the problems associated with leaving breast milk out longer, and what happens if a baby drinks spoiled breast milk.

How long can breast milk stay out after refrigeration?

The duration for which breast milk can stay out after refrigeration depends on the time for which it was refrigerated. The longer you have refrigerated it, the less it can stay out.

In simple words, if you have refrigerated breast milk for 1 day, it can stay out for 6 hours. But if it is refrigerated for 5 days, it can only stay out for 2 hours.

Problems associated with leaving breast milk out longer

If you left out the breast milk after it has been used for feeding your baby, you may wonder whether it can be used for a subsequent feeding or not. It is recommended by the milk storage guidelines to discard the leftover breast milk right after 2 hours because of the potential for microbial contamination, particularly that of bacteria, from the mouth of your baby.

Keep in mind that freshly pumped milk that has been left outside the fridge for longer than 4 hours should be thrown away, regardless of whether it has been used for feeding or not.

How to properly store breast milk?

Proper storage of milk is conspicuous, to not only prevent the milk from the microorganisms that are responsible to cause infections but also to maintain the nutritional contents of the milk. If you want to store the breast milk, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Use food-grade containers that are free from bisphenol A or you can use plastic bags that are specially manufactured for milk handling.

At room temperature

Freshly expressed breast milk can be kept at room temperature for up to 6 hours. However, it is optimal to use or properly store the breast milk within 4 hours, especially if the room temperature is higher.

In the refrigerator

Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the back of the refrigerator for up to 4 days in clean conditions. However, it is optimal to use or freeze the milk within 3 days to retain the peak quality.

In the freezer

Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the back of a deep freezer for up to 12 months, but it is optimal to use the frozen milk within 6 months.

Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.

Can cashew milk go bad?

Can diabetics drink milk at night?

How to tell if breast milk is spoiled?

Freshly expressed breast milk is odorless and smells somewhat sweet. The milk that comes in as soon as the baby is born, called colostrum, is yellow. Sometimes it also comes with bluish, orange, or off-white. If you notice any deviation from these things, this means that the milk has spoiled. For having more idea about the telltale signs of spoiled milk, you can go through the following:

Visual inspection

After the pumping session, the breast milk typically separates into two layers. The watery milk goes to the bottom while the fatty milk makes its way to the top. If you want to know if milk has spoiled or not, gently swirl the bottle, if the milk mixes easily, this means that it is in good condition. But if you observe chunks after swirling, discard such milk as it has been spoiled.

Smell

To check if breast milk is still good for feeding your baby or not, you can simply conduct a sniff test. It is normal for breast milk to have a varying smell but if it is giving off a sour smell, it is a clear indication of the enzymatic activity of the lipase enzyme. It is better to discard such milk with a sour smell.

Taste 

You can also have the idea if the milk has gone bad or not by tasting it. Tasing the milk will help you tell if it is safe for the baby or not. The taste of breast milk may vary from that of cow’s milk, but it should not taste sour or rancid. If it tastes so, do not feed your baby with such milk as it has been spoiled.

What happens if a baby drinks spoiled breast milk?

Babies generally do not drink spoiled milk. They will squirm and spit out the spoiled milk on tasting it. But in case, if they drink spoiled milk, they may get abdominal pain, and soon after they will vomit the milk. Babies rarely get diarrhea or fever from drinking spoiled milk.

Conclusion:

In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long can breast milk stay out after refrigeration?”, discussed answers to other related questions like the problems associated with leaving breast milk out longer, and what happens if a baby drinks spoiled breast milk.

References: 

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.