Ideally, breastfeeding moms should have eight to ten nursing sessions or pumping sessions every 24 hours, especially if you are a mom who has gone back to work or if you aren’t with your baby for feeding time.
It goes without saying stored milk is a convenient and hassle-free way to make sure your baby still gets fed. If you are in a position where you’re producing more milk than baby needs, you will need a safe and hygienic storage solution.
Anyone who says there’s no point in crying over spilled milk has clearly never spilled their own. Breastfeeding moms know breast milk is like liquid gold and needs to be kept in the most hygienic and spill-proof way possible: breast milk storage bags.
Breast milk can be stored in many ways including bottles, breast milk storage bags and specially made containers but each has their pros and cons.
Bottles are great but can take up a lot of space in your fridge or freezer, and they can break; while breast milk containers also take up space and can be costly.
We find breast milk storage bags to be a cost-effective and efficient way to keep your milk safe: they’re sterile, airtight, easy to store, don’t take up a lot of space and are easy to travel with. But they do come with their disadvantages, like leaking or tearing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides the following guidelines with regards to the safe storage of breast milk:
- Room temperature – you can keep breast milk between 6-8 hour.
- Insulated Cooler Bags – breast milk will keep up to 24 hours.
- Refrigerator – up to 5 days.
- Freezer – 6 to 12 months.
Best Breast Milk Storage Bags
Tips for Preparing and Storing Breast Milk
To keep breast milk as hygienic as possible while still preserving all the nutrients, we strongly recommend you storing it the best way possible.
Although not difficult to do, should you be doing it for yourself or donating it to a milk bank, there are a few guidelines that need to be followed to ensure the milk stays safe:
- It goes without saying that you need to wash your hands before you express or handle breast milk.
- Use clean containers like plastic cups, screw cap bottles or storage bags.
- Make sure the storage bags you use are heavy-duty. Using ordinary plastic bags isn’t recommended as they will split open and leak.
- Clearly label the bag with the date (so you use the oldest milk first) and if necessary, add your child’s name.
- Don’t mix fresh breast milk to milk that has been frozen.
- Don’t save milk from one feed to the next.
- Make sure you clean the breast pump parts after each use.
How to Thaw Breast Milk Safely
- Don’t let breast milk thaw by leaving it at room temperature.
- To warm it, we suggest using a bottle warmer or you can add hot water to a bowl and place the bag inside. Make sure the cup or bowl with hot water is out of the way to avoid any accidents.
- Don’t shake the milk, rather swirl it gently.
- Never refreeze thawed milk.
- Don’t store bags too long in the fridge. Over time they lose the valuable vitamins and nutrients.
- Test the temperature of the milk and make sure it’s "freshly-pumped" warm and not too hot or too cold.
- Trust your instinct, if you think the milk is spoiled rather discard it.
We have established that breast milk storage bags are the most convenient for some reasons; they’re also safe and hygienic if used correctly. It’s not to say storage bags don’t have their flaws. We have found the two biggest issues to be:
Breaking or Leaking Bags – regardless of the make or the quality of the storage bags are not indestructible and can break, they are plastic after all.
To avoid spilling, leaking or breaking we suggest you handle them with care and follow the directions regarding storing amounts.
Measuring Amounts - use the measurement lines only as a guestimate. If you are using a storage bag for the first time or using a new brand test it first using water to double check the accuracy of the lines.
8 Handy Tips for Using Breast Milk Storage Bags
All come with their specific instructions, but some basic guidelines apply to all makes and brands of storage bags. For easy reference, we would include them for you:
- Make sure you use a waterproof pen to label the bag. Do this before filling it.
- Be sure to remove the sterilized seal from the bag.
- If you are using a breast pump, place the bag around the shield and slowly collect the milk or use a clean bottle to decant it into the bag.
- Don’t fill the bag more than the recommended maximum amount.
- Gently push out any air from the bag.
- Check (and double check if necessary) that the zipper is sealed.
- If you are storing the bags in the fridge, make sure they are upright. If you’re using your freezer, we suggest you place them on a sheet of paper towel and lie them flat.
- Although some bags state that they can be recycled, we think it’s better to throw them away once used. It’s better not to re-use breast milk storage bags.
Best Breast Milk Storage Bags 2017: Our Top 5 Picks
Not all storage bags are created equal, nor are they packaged or priced the same.
When it comes to anything to do with your baby, it is a personal choice, and we reckon that unless a product has been recalled because it is harmful or dangerous, deciding which brand is the best usually a matter of preference.
We like the Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags a lot and consider them to be one of the best bags on the market. They hold up to 6 oz, and the bags seal tightly and they are easy to use.
At the very reasonable price, they have some really clever little features, like the double seal to make sure milk doesn’t leak out.
The convenient pouring spout and the tissue-style dispenser that lets you pull one bag out at a time with the minimum amount of fussing. This is a simple feature, but something busy moms with full hands will appreciate.
- Without a doubt, the double zip lock seal
- Easy to pour thanks to the spout
- Easy to label and are pre-sterilized
- BPA Free
- They are prone to leaking if not thawed lying flat
If you are already using a Medela breast pump, then it’s worth having a look at their Pump and Save Breast Milk Bags. You can pump directly into the bag which means you don’t need to wash extra bottles and the process is kept hygienic.
For 50 bags, you’ll pay between $9 and $19 depending on where you buy them and Amazon has many great deals.
We like the protective oxygen barrier that preserves all those essential nutrients that make breast milk so important and the smart design that allows them to stand up on their own, preventing unnecessary spillage.
They also have an easy-to-use zip top that keeps the bag tightly sealed.
- Can pump straight into the bag
- Almost spill-proof thanks to the clever design that allows them to stand up on their own
- Protective oxygen barrier
- BPA Free
- Compared to some bags they are a little pricey
- They do have a tendency to leak
NUK is a product that has always been associated with quality, and their Seal N Go Breast Milk Bags are no different. They are durable, thicker than most other storage bags and hold 6 ounces, as stated.
The NUK Seal N Go milk bags can stand on their own so you can keep the container steady while you pour, preventing unnecessary spillage and they have a double zipper lock and strong seams.
We did find that if you want to lie them flat in your freezer, you should only fill them to 3oz or so. If you don’t mind using more space and you prefer to store them upright, then you can fill them with the recommended 6 ounces.
Cost-wise you can expect to pay just under $20 for 100 bags.
- To avoid leaks, we like the double zipper lock
- The strong seams are an added bonus
- Can stand on their own
- BPA Free
- Quite difficult to label compared to other breast milk storage bags
- Hold less milk when you lie them flat
Philips AVENT bags are perfect if you are on a budget or if you plan to store smaller volumes of milk over a shorter period of time.
For $6 to $11 regarding where you buy, you'll get 50 bags in a box. They are well made with a double zipper and reinforced seams to prevent leaking.
We like the label area on the milk storage bags – it’s large enough to write on, and read. Also, something unique to this particular brand of bags is the easy-to-tear-off label part.
This creates a smart little spout and allows you to pour milk directly from the zipper area, reducing the chance of the dreaded spill. They are BPA-free and definitely worth looking at.
- Tamper proof packaging which is a huge plus
- They are self-standing
- Double zipper
- Durable and easy to label
- Easy to pour
- If stored too long they are prone to freezer burn
- They can be difficult to reopen
Dr. Brown’s is another of those trusted names in baby care industry but can be quite pricey, probably because of the brand’s reputation.
In terms of design, they are actually quite basic, with a double zip, double lock and an easy to pour "lip."
The bags are made of a thick, durable BPA-free plastic and have a double zipper to stop any leaking. Unlike some of the breast milk storage bags, Dr. Brown’s are well marked, the measurement line is pretty accurate, and the labeling area is a good size.
They aren’t the cheapest of all our breast milk storage bags reviewed, but if money isn’t an issue, then they’re a great choice.
- Thick, durable material
- Double zipper
- Easy to label
- Leak-proof whether they are stored upright or flat
- BPA Free
- Compared to other brands, they are expensive
What Is Your Favorite Breast Milk Storage Bags?
I don’t think there is a huge difference when it comes to breast milk storage bags in terms of design and function - they all do what they claim to.
But as a mom you might have a preferred brand that you support regardless, or for the moment your budget requires that you pay more attention to what the bags cost rather than who makes them. If you're still confused, my favorite is definitely these Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags.
How about you? Please let me know by posting below and I would be happy to reply.