Can you refrigerate thawed breast milk?

Many times, things don’t go as planned. When it comes to storing breastmilk in the refrigerator or freezer, there is no difference either. Let’s say you defrost too much milk, and you are left with a quantity that your baby can’t finish eating.

What should you do with it? Can you refreeze it? Should you store it in the fridge? How long can you keep breastmilk in the fridge before freezing? This is a common situation that many mothers have to face.

Can you refrigerate thawed breast milk?

Refrigerate thawed breast milk

You can refrigerate thawed breastmilk for up to 24 hours, but you can’t refreeze it. Once your baby finished his meal, the leftover breastmilk can be safely kept at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours.

  • The reason for that is the fact that once the milk is defrosted, it starts attracting bacteria and germs. As we discussed earlier, bacteria can multiply rather quickly. This bacteria can be controlled by the immune properties of the milk for about 2 hours at room temperature. However, for that to happen, you need to seal the container and store it at the right temperature, just like you would store freshly expressed milk. The only difference is that you will store it for less time.
  • Leaving your milk in the fridge for 24 hours is also a convenient option. As long as you put it in the area of the refrigerator where the temperature is the coolest. Once 24 hours passed, you should throw away any milk that your baby didn’t get to drink it. But refreezing breastmilk is a big NO! It might be one of the first things you are tempted to do.
  • However, if you would refreeze defrosted milk, you would also freeze the bacteria it gained while it sat out. You don’t want to feed that to your baby later! This is why it is so important to store the breastmilk in smaller containers in the freezer, so you don’t take the risk of defrosting more than you have to.
  • Also, take out the oldest milk you put in your freezer to use it in the order you froze it, to begin with so you don’t risk having your milk supplies go to waste. Take out of the freezer as much milk as you estimate your baby will eat so that you are left with no extra milk or very little of it.

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Can You Refrigerate Thawed Breast Milk? 1

When you defrost the breastmilk, you should either put it in the fridge the day before and then warm it up before feeding it to your baby or place it in a bowl with warm water.

Make sure to not defrost the milk in the microwave or in boiled water because this can damage your baby’s health. The microwave will take away significant nutritious value from the breastmilk.

Can You Refrigerate Thawed Breast Milk? 1

Key References

  • “Storing Human Milk | La Leche League International”. Accessed February 27, 2020. Link.


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