What are breast milk storage bags?
Unlike plastic sandwich bags or disposable bottle liners, breast milk storage bags are recommended by the CDC specifically for the safe storage of expressed breast milk. They are made of durable, food-grade, BPA-free plastic, come pre-sterilized and sealed by the manufacturer, and are not reusable. The best breast milk storage bags will be leak-proof and capable of storing breast milk in the freezer or fridge for maximum versatility. Depending on how often you feed your little one and where and how long you need to store your breast milk, there are plenty of high-quality options with innovative features.
How to Choose the Best Breast Milk Storage Bag
Where do you plan to store breast milk, and for how long? How many ounces of milk does your child finish in one feeding? Do you need to build up a stash for times when you're at work or your baby is in childcare? Do you need to pump and store milk at work? Some of these questions can be helpful when selecting an easy storage solution for your needs. It's also important to understand proper breast milk storage guidelines to ensure the liquid gold maintains all the beneficial nutrients you've worked so hard to provide your little one.
To maximize your breast milk supply, it's a good idea to plan for a range of feeding scenarios. Babies have a way of keeping us on our toes! For example, you may plan to feed your baby freshly expressed breast milk straight from your breast pump's bottle, which can be stored for 4-6 hours at room temperature. But then (surprise!) maybe her sleep schedule shifts or her tummy is upset and her feeding time is delayed. You'll want to be able to pop that breast milk into the fridge or freezer safely and hygienically for later use. Don't forget to look for a bag with room for labeling with the date and time. This is especially handy if you keep a large supply on hand to rotate through or you rely on a partner or caregiver to help feed baby.
If you need to store breast milk in the fridge, make sure to place it in the back where the temperature is most consistent, not in or near the door. If you'll be transferring breast milk to a bottle to feed your little one, you may want to consider self-standing storage bags with a pour spout to make things easier. Breast milk is fine stored in the fridge for up to five days (at 32° to 39°F). It can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. For new moms and those who may need a cheat sheet (no judgment), there are even bags available that have breast milk storage guidelines and temperature recommendations printed directly on the package. Most bags will have ounce markers to make it simple to track your little one's intake as well. Breast milk stored in the freezer will expand slightly, so make sure to allow extra room to avoid bursts and leaks.
Storage Solutions and Features
For moms who pump, it can be helpful to look for breast milk storage bags that can be used with an adapter. This allows them to connect the bag directly to the breast pump without the need for an additional collection container. They can then be either stored in the fridge or freezer or used with compatible nipple and bottle attachments to serve directly to baby. Moms that go this route save time in cleaning extra containers and pump parts. For moms who work outside the home, saving this extra step is often worthwhile indeed. Pumping and breastfeeding involves a lot of time so any hacks that can speed up the process are definitely worth checking out!
The shape of your storage bags is also worth considering. Take a look at your fridge and/or freezer space. While storage bags that have a pour spout are helpful for transfer, it may make sense to consider a uniform, stackable design if space is limited. These innovative bags are great for storing milk neatly in a crowded freezer and because they remain thin and flat even when full, they help speed up the thawing process. Another important consideration when defrosting and thawing breastmilk: temperature. Some bags are equipped with a built-in thermal sensor that takes the guesswork out of heating your precious breastmilk just enough (but not too much) for safe feeding.
Let's talk about size. How much breast milk are you producing and how much does your child typically finish? As babies get older and their stomachs grow, the more they can eat. While many of the bags on the market will accommodate 5-6 ounces, there are larger products available that can handle up to 8 ounces. This is helpful for moms who naturally produce more during a pumping session and appreciate not having to use so many bags.
Finding the right BPA-free plastic milk storage bag for your needs will help make your breastfeeding experience much more efficient. It's all about deciding what's most important to you, whether that's cost or space savings, ease of milk transfer to another container, or compatibility with your favorite breast pump.