Tips for breast milk safety

How to keep breast milk safe from foodborne illness.

Breastfeeding has major benefits for both mothers and their babies. It increases a baby’s immune systems, allows for bonding and is economical. Breast milk is always fresh, readily available, and comes at the perfect temperature. Many moms choose to express their breast milk through a breast pump to store milk while away from their baby. While we should all be advocating for breastfeeding, we must also advocate for safe breast milk storage.

Here are some tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • Keep it clean: Make sure you wash your hands before handling milk or expressing and that the equipment is thoroughly washed. Here are guidelines from the FDA on breast pump cleaning. It is important to clean the pump after each use.
  • Storage: Breast milk can store at room temperature for up to 6 hours, according to Mayo Clinic, although 4 hours is optimal. So if you are choosing to pump bedside through the night, this is something to consider. Never add fresh breast milk to older milk or formula. Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and the freezer from 3-12 months. Please refer to the table below.
  • Thawing: It is best to thaw milk in the refrigerator, or if you need a faster thawing method try swirling the bottle in a bowl of warm water. Do not microwave breast milk as it can have hot spots that could burn your baby. Milk that has been thawed should not be refrozen.
  • Child care: If your baby will be attending child care, label each bottle with your child’s name and the date the milk was expressed.
  • Use the CDC’s chart for Storage Duration of Fresh Human Milk for Use with Healthy Full Term Infants.

With these tips, you can keep your baby healthy and safe. For more information about food safety, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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