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How Long Can Breast Milk Sit Out?

Article By
Published On
06 Jun, 2023
Read Time
3 minutes

The truth is, parents are busy! No matter how organised you are, it's totally normal to forget things from time to time. And there's no such thing as a stupid question, like "is my breast milk still fresh?" for example.

We've written this guide for new parents to help you work out if your expressed breast milk is still safe to give to your baby. So, whether it's been hand expressed or expressed using a pump, let's run through how long breast milk can stay out of the fridge at room temperature.

How long can breast milk stay out of the fridge?

Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored for up to six hours at room temperature (25��C or below). It should ideally be stored in a sterile, covered container.

If the room is very warm, with a temperature of 29��C or higher, breast milk should only be left out for two hours.

It's important to note that the longer breast milk is left out, the higher the risk of bacteria growth and contamination that can cause sickness and diarrhoea. So, it's best to store your breast milk in the fridge or freezer as soon as possible if you're not going to feed it to your baby right away.

If you're unsure whether breast milk is still good, give it a sniff test. If it smells sour or rancid, it's best to discard it.

How long can formula stay out of the fridge?

Formula milk should be used within the length of a feed (around one hour). Any that's left over once your baby is finished feeding should be discarded.

It's important to always follow the instructions on the formula packaging.

What should I do if I���ve left breast milk at room temperature for over four hours?

Although a lot of work goes into pumping and expressing breast milk, you shouldn���t feed any that's been left at room temperature for longer than six hours to your baby.

But don���t worry, there's no need to discard this milk if you don���t want to. You can use it to treat skin ailments such as eczema, nappy rash, and baby acne. It can also be applied directly to baby's skin or diluted into their bath water.

Breast milk can even be used by parents to treat any rashes or eczema, and some people use it to treat cracked and sore nipples caused by breastfeeding.

How long does breast milk last in the fridge?

Once it's been expressed, breast milk should ideally go straight into the fridge in a sterilised container, bottle, or bag if you're not going to give it to your baby right away. Expressed breast milk can be stored in the back of the fridge (where it���s coldest) for up to six days.

Breast milk shouldn���t be stored in the door of the fridge, as the temperature fluctuates when the door is opened and closed.

If your fridge is warmer than 4��C, then expressed milk should be used within three days. If your fridge doesn���t display a temperature, it can be handy to get a special fridge thermometer to give you peace of mind.

Can I freeze breast milk?

Yes, freezing breast milk is a great option for those who have a good supply.

Breast milk can be safely stored in the freezer for up to six months, but it���s best used within 90 days if it���s for feeding your baby.

When freezing breast milk, it's always a good idea to use a permanent marker to write the date that the milk was expressed on the container. That way, you can be sure to always use the oldest milk in your freezer first.

Please note that these guidelines are for healthy, full-term babies. You should speak to your doctor if you���re pumping milk and your baby has health complications or was born prematurely.

How long can defrosted breast milk stay out?

Breast milk that was previously frozen and has been safely thawed can be kept at room temperature for up to two hours, or stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Breast milk should not be re-frozen once it's defrosted, and any milk that���s left over after two hours must be discarded or refrigerated and used only as a skin ailment treatment.