Pumping and storing breastmilk can be so helpful for a breastfeeding mother during her nursing journey. It can help relieve the pressure of engorged breasts, help manage a mother’s milk supply, provide a way to store backup milk for the baby, as well as giving mothers the flexibility to be away from their little one temporarily while continuing to provide breastmilk.
Expressing and storing milk is becoming extremely common in today’s world and many mothers these days purchase a breast pump to have ready for when the baby arrives. Breastmilk is like liquid gold for our babies, packed full of immune boosting bacteria and nutrients, and every drop of milk is so valuable representing hard work and sacrifice from the mother. Breastmilk also will expire quickly if not used or stored correctly and so finding a way to safely store breastmilk in the fridge or freezer is so important.
So what is the best solution for storing breastmilk? Commonly, mothers store expressed breastmilk in specially-made sterile and nontoxic plastic storage bags. These bags are designed specifically to withstand the process of storing, freezing, defrosting and warming the milk as required, without danger of contaminating or damaging the milk in the process. Using breastmilk storage bags also allows for easy organisation of the milk so it is can be made clear when it was pumped and how much is contained in each bag.
There are lots of different breastmilk storage options out there at different price ranges and with unique features to consider. I have reviewed five different storage options for breastmilk and have come to the conclusion that Mommy’s Precious Breastmilk Storage Bags are the best all round option. These bags seem to go the distance – durable, cost effective and they can hold up to 8 ounces of milk comfortably. All of the options we reviewed are made from BPA free plastic and come pre-sterilized.
Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags
Known as the classic breastmilk storage bag option, these bags are double zippered and supposedly have strong, reinforced side seams to prevent against leaks and spills. Unfortunately, some mothers have found these bags to occasionally leak from the bottom corners when thawing and warming so the quality seems to be inconsistent. A great feature of the Lansinoh bags is that they can either stand up or lay flat when freezing to optimize space.
The latest design also allows you to pump directly into the bags which cuts out an extra step and saves time for the pumping mother. You will need an adaptor (sold separately) to use this feature if your breastpump is not the Lansinoh brand. Each bag will hold 6 ounces of milk. These are single use bags but can be recycled in appropriate soft plastic recycling schemes.
Medela Breastmilk Storage Bags
These 6 ounce breastmilk storage bags are also double zippered for extra protection against leaks. Though they are designed to stand or lay flat, many mothers have found these bags do not store as well in the freezer laying flat as other brands of bags, and this is a considerable source of frustration as they tend to take up more space.
The Medela bags seem to be stronger and more durable than the Lansinoh bags which makes handling and pouring the bag once there is milk in it much less flimsy and awkward. Each pack of the Medela bags also comes with a handy resealable transport bag for your spare unused storage bags, to keep them sterile and clean. This particular design of Medela breastmilk storage bags is not designed to pump directly into and is a single use bag.
Mommy’s Precious Breastmilk Storage Bags
These breastmilk storage bags fit up to 8 ounces of milk which is a big advantage for some mothers, especially those who pump exclusively or very regularly. They have a gusseted bottom for easy standing as well as a double zippered seal for security.
Mommy’s Precious bags freeze flat for simple storage and provide excellent value for money in terms of their strength and leakproof design. Very few leaks reported with these bags! The measurement system printed on the front of the bag claims to provide 95% accuracy once filled, for peace of mind for the parent. There is also plenty of writing space on each bag.
Milkies Milk Trays
A concern for many mothers is that breast milk storage bags are generally single use and create a lot of plastic waste in the process. Milkies Milk Trays provide a reusable storage option for breastmilk in the form of a freezer tray with a detachable lid, similar to an ice cube tray. Each tray is divided into eight one ounce milk sticks and the tray is made from BPA free nontoxic plastic.
When popped out of the tray, the milk sticks are designed to fit in the mouth of most baby bottles for defrosting. The benefits of using this milk tray system include the fact they are reusable, cost effective, allow you to thaw just a small amount of milk. In terms of disadvantages, using these trays is a bit fiddly – pouring and transferring unfrozen milk to the freezer can be challenging and it is also a little difficult to actually pop out the frozen milk sticks as the tray is a hard plastic.
Gland Breastmilk Storage Bags Easy Pour Spout
These bags have an amazing easy pour spout to make transferring milk to a bottle simple and mess free, a simply feature that parents and carers are all extremely grateful for. Unfortunately the spout is a little small which could be frustrating when trying to pour out the milk in a hurry.
The Gland breastmilk storage bags have the same double zippered design as the previous bags, though leaks have been commonly reported. These bags can be stood up or lay flat for smart storage. If the correct adapters are purchased, it is possible to pump directly into these bags. Similar to the Mommy’s Precious breastmilk bags, the Gland bags are also a larger 8 ounce size.
How Do You Use A Bag to Store Breastmilk?
Breastmilk can be expressed by hand or using a breast pump either into a bottle or sometimes straight into certain storage bags. If not already in one, the milk is carefully transferred into a sterile, clear plastic milk storage bag and sealed. The bags generally have a space on the front for you to write the date the milk was pumped, a name and a volume of milk for clear identification. You can then refrigerate or freeze your bags of milk to use later, as needed.
If you are combining small amounts of milk in the same bag from separate pump sessions, chill the milks separately first to bring it all to the same temperature before combining together. When it comes time to use a bag of milk, you can thaw it gently in the fridge over a few hours first, before either using warm water to heat the milk or a suitable bottle warmer. For more information and a review on baby bottle warmers, read our post where we review some of the best.
Can You Reuse A Breastmilk Storage Bag?
There are some washable, reusable breastmilk storage bags and containers out there, however single use storage bags need to be discarded once used as they quickly degrade and cannot be sterilized again.
Cleaning and sterilization practices need to be fastidious if you want to use reusable storage options, as babies are much more susceptible to getting sick from cross contamination.
Can I Use Ziploc Bags to Store Breast Milk?
This could be a tempting low-cost storage option but we strongly advise against using Ziploc bags to store your precious breast milk. They pose too high a risk of leaks and contamination as they are not sterile and simply aren’t designed for this purpose.
How Will I Know If Breast Milk Is Spoiled?
Breastmilk naturally separates on standing and so if you’ve noticed your breastmilk appears separated, this is normal, and a gentle swirl will bring it back together. If it remains separated after swirling, the milk is likely to have gone bad. Expired breastmilk will also have a rancid, slightly sour smell and taste, similar to that of cow’s milk when it has also spoiled.
The best way to be sure whether your breastmilk has expired or not is to be diligent in your dating and storage system. Use clean and sterile breastpumps / bags / trays, especially with a baby under 6 months old. Always label the date pumped on any milk you store and if it is being stored in the fridge or has been defrosted, use within three days. If it is freshly pumped and you do not wish to refrigerate or store it, use the milk within four hours.
If you are unsure how old the breastmilk is, it is best not to risk feeding it to your baby. You could pour it into bath water however, for yourself or your baby, and enjoy an extra soothing and hydrating soak!
How Much Breastmilk Should I Store in Each Bag?
To avoid leaks and difficulty with storage, do not fill your storage bag with more milk than the maximum amount indicated on the bag (usually 6 – 8 ounces). You can store less milk than this in the bag if you need to.
Storing breastmilk can be literally a lifesaver for so many breastfeeding mothers and their babies. If you are pumping and storing your milk, well done mama because it is hard work and quite a process to get right! Hands up who else has actually cried over spit milk?!
Finding the right breastmilk storage bag is crucial to making sure you can get into a streamlined, fuss-free rhythm with pumping and feeding. Ultimately, try and look for a bag that is strong, protected against leaks, affordable, nontoxic and easy to write on for identification. We think that the Mommy’s Precious Breastmilk Storage Bags are the best all-rounder and have been so pleased with the results using these bags.