Part of making sure your baby remains haile and healthy is knowing how to store its milk. Improperly stored milk can become unfit for consumption for a young child whose immune system isn’t fully developed yet, and can cause nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and even a fever if drunk. Use the below guidelines to safely store your child’s formula or expressed breast milk.
• Always use formula milk before its expiration date. In addition to checking the date printed on the formula package, you should also check whether the formula seems discolored or if the fat seems to be separated from the liquid, as these are signs that the milk has expired. Dispose of expired formula immediately. You should be able to store powdered formula for up to 12 months from its production date.
• Dispose of the remaining formula milk after feeding. Leftover formula milk that has already been drunk from is a potential breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Refrigerating or reheating the milk won’t kill the bacteria or stop it from multiplying, so don’t feed your child leftover milk an hour after it has been first drunk from.
• Refrigerate formula, but never freeze it. Freezing formula can cause a physical separation in the components of the product. You can store prepared formula up to 24 hours in the fridge, but it’s advisable to use it before then. Make sure to cover liquid formula bottles properly when refrigerating.
• Prepare formula on the spot when on outings. Take along the formula powder in a dry container and store the water in a separate baby bottle, and only mix the powdered milk with the water when you’re ready to feed your baby.
• Refrigerate breast milk as soon as it’s expressed. Breast milk will last up to 3-4 days if stored in a fridge before it goes bad; however it is advisable that it be used within 48 hours after it has been expressed. If a fridge isn’t available, store the milk at room temperature (25° Celsius), keeping it away from heat sources, for a maximum of 6 hours. Seal the container properly and store the milk at the very back of the fridge where it is coldest.
• Sterilize breast milk storage containers before using them. You can do this by boiling the containers in water for 5 minutes. Use only glass and plastic containers for milk storage, and use plastic containers when storing milk in the freezer.
• Freeze breast milk that won’t be used within 48 hours. Leave at least 3cm of empty space in the container to allow the freezing milk to expand. Stick a label on the container with the date of when the milk was expressed and use the older frozen milk first. You can store milk in the freezer for up to 3-4 months if your freezer has a separate door, and only 2 weeks if you’re using the freezer section in a one-door fridge. Never refreeze breast milk once it has been thawed.
• Never thaw breast milk in hot water or in a microwave oven. Use warm water or the fridge when you want to thaw milk instead, and give the milk container a good shake before using it to make sure the fat within the milk is distributed properly. Breast milk that has been thawed in a fridge will keep for 24 hours in the refrigerator before it should be disposed of. Milk that has been thawed in warm water, on the other hand, will only last for 4 hours in the fridge before going bad and so should be used straight away.
• Dispose of remaining breast milk after feeding. Milk that remains in the bottle after feedings will contain harmful bacteria that can potentially cause the baby to fall ill if the milk is offered to the child once again, so throw out remaining milk in the bottle an hour after the baby has finished feeding.
• Carry breast milk in an insulated cooler when on outings. Expressed breast milk is highly perishable, particularly when exposed to heat, so make sure to include ice or chill-packs in the cooler when transporting breast milk.