How Long Can Breast Milk Sit Out the Refrigerator?

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

The truth is, parents are busy and there's no shame in asking questions such as "is my breast milk still ok for my baby?".

That's why we've created this guide to help you determine the safety of your expressed breast milk and to let you know how long it can sit out at room temperature.

How long can you leave breast milk out of the refrigerator?

The can be left at room temperature - 77°F or cooler - for up to four hours. After four hours, you should either pour the milk into a bottle and use it to feed your baby or discard it.

What to do if you've left breast milk at room temp for too long

You shouldn't feed your baby breast milk that's been left at room temperature for more than four hours.

However, if you have leftover milk that you don't want to discard, it can be used to treat various skin conditions such as eczema, diaper rash, and baby acne. You can apply it directly to your baby's skin or add it to their bath water.

Parents can also use breast milk to treat their own skin ailments, including rashes and eczema. Additionally, it can be used to soothe sore and cracked nipples caused by breastfeeding.

How long can I store breast milk in the refrigerator?

To make sure expressed breast milk stays fresh, you should store it in a sterilized container, bottle, or bag in the refrigerator immediately after pumping if you don't plan on feeding it to your baby right away. It can stay in the refrigerator for up to six days when stored below 39°F.

Follow these guidelines when   in the refrigerator:

  • Don't store breast milk in the refrigerator door as the temperature fluctuates when it's opened and closed.
  • If your refrigerator is warmer than 39°F, you should use the milk within three days.
  • Use a specially designed thermometer if your refrigerator doesn't show the temperature.

How long can formula milk stay out of the refrigerator?

It's important to always follow the instructions on the formula packaging because infant formula is different from breast milk.

It 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.

Can breast milk be frozen?

Yes, freezing breast milk can be great if you have a good supply and want to keep some milk in storage for the future. Breast milk can be safely stored in the freezer for up to six months, but it's recommended that you use it within 90 days if you plan on feeding it to your baby.

You should label the storage container using a permanent marker with the date the milk was expressed. This way, you can be sure to use the oldest milk in your freezer first and get the best out of your stored breast milk.

How long can you leave defrosted breast milk out at room temp?

If you have thawed frozen breast milk safely, you can keep it at room temperature for a maximum of two hours or store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Once breast milk has been defrosted, it should not be refrozen. Additionally, any milk that's left over after the two-hour mark should be discarded or refrigerated and used only as a skincare treatment.