How long does breast milk last after taking it out of the refrigerator?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “How long does breast milk last after taking it out of the refrigerator?”

How long does breast milk last after taking it out of the refrigerator?

Breast milk can last up to 4 hours at room temperature after taking it out of the refrigerator. This can only work if the breast milk was freshly expressed. In the fridge, the milk can last for 4 days.

If the breast milk is frozen and then thawed, it can last for 1-2 hours at room temperature. If the milk was thawed, it would need to be used within 24 hours in the fridge.

If the baby does not finish consuming the milk within 2 hours, it would be better to discard the milk.

How to store breast milk?

  • It is better to keep breast milk in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to use a clean plastic or glass bottle to store the milk. If the bottle is made up of plastic, it should not contain BPA.
  • Avoid using plastic bags or disposable liners to store breast milk as it can increase the risk of contamination.
  • You can also keep the breast milk in the freezer at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Make sure to immediately refrigerate the breast milk after it has been expressed to reduce the risk of contamination.
  • Make sure to place the breast milk in a sealed bottle or a covered container.
  • If the baby is premature or has health issues, it is better to consult a doctor before expressing milk and storing them.
  • If the milk was collected, it would be better to label it as such. Also, mention the date of collection. If the milk has been stored at daycare, it would be wise to mention the baby’s name in the label to reduce confusion.
  • If you are placing the breast milk in the freezer, it would be better to store them in smaller-sized containers. This is because breast milk can expand. Also, the amount of breast milk wasted would be low, if at all of it is thrown away.
  • Place the breast milk at the back of the freezer or the fridge as this is the coolest region of the fridge or the freezer. If you do not have a fridge or freezer, for the time being, you can also place the breast milk temporarily in the cooler.
  • If you are about to mix breast milk, make sure it was freshly expressed the same day. Also, if you are mixing the freshly expressed milk from the chilled breast milk (kept in the fridge or freezer), make sure to cool the freshly expressed one before mixing.
  • Avoid refreezing milk that has already been thawed.

What happens if you leave breast milk out for a longer duration?

If you leave breast milk out for a longer duration, it will lose vitamin C. Also, breast milk is likely to be contaminated because of which it is not recommended to keep the breast milk out for more than two hours.

If the milk has been freshly expressed, it can be discarded after 4 hours irrespective of whether it has been fed to the baby.

Other FAQs on breast milk that you might be interested in.

How long does breast milk last at cooler temperatures?

In the fridge, breast milk can last for 3-4 days. In the freezer, it can last for 6-12 months though it would be better to not store them longer than 6 months. In the cooler, breast milk can be kept for a day.

Does the composition of breast milk change?

Yes, the composition of breast milk changes with time. Breast milk given to newborns would differ from the breast milk given to the baby that is a few months older. If the baby is premature or suffers from health issues, the storage instructions can alter.

How to thaw breast milk?

Thaw the milk by keeping it in the fridge overnight. You can also run the bottle of breast milk under warm water to allow it to thaw quickly. 

Avoid heating the breast milk in the stovetop or microwave as it can develop hot spots wherein only certain parts of the milk would become hot and the rest of the parts of the milk would remain cold.

If the thawed milk is not used within 24 hours, it is better to throw them away.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have answered the question, “How long does breast milk last after taking it out of the refrigerator?”

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/how-long-can-breast-milk-sit-out#How-long-can-expressed-breast-milk-sit-out
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/breast-milk-storage/art-20046350