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Proper Handling and Storage of Breast Milk and Formula

Hygiene plays a crucial role in the handling and storage of breast milk and formula, ensuring the safety and nutritional value for your baby. It is important to wash hands thoroughly before expressing, preparing, or feeding milk to prevent contamination. Breast milk can be stored in sterile containers in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months, while formula should be used within 1 hour of preparation or discarded. By following these proper guidelines, you can ensure that your baby receives the best nutrition possible.

Key Takeaways:

  • Proper handling: Always wash hands before expressing breast milk or preparing formula to avoid contamination.
  • Storage guidelines: Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, while formula should be consumed within 24 hours after preparation.
  • Thawing and warming: Thaw frozen breast milk by placing it in the refrigerator overnight and warm it by placing the bottle in warm water, never microwave it.

Storing and Handling Breast Milk

It is important to properly handle and store breast milk to maintain its nutritional value. For detailed guidelines on how to store and handle breast milk, visit Proper handling and storage of breast milk.

Pumping and Storing Breast Milk

Pumping breast milk allows mothers to store milk for future feedings. It is necessary to use clean pump parts and storage containers to prevent contamination. Label each container with the date and time the milk was expressed before storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.

Thawing and Warming Breast Milk

Breast milk can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight or by running it under warm water. Never use a microwave to thaw breast milk as it can create hot spots that can burn the baby's mouth. Once thawed, gently swirl the milk to mix the layers of fat that may have separated during storage.

Thawing breast milk properly ensures that it maintains its nutritional value and prevents the risk of burning the baby's mouth with hot spots.

Preparing and Storing Formula

Mixing and Making Formula

The key to preparing formula correctly is to follow the instructions provided on the packaging. Ensure that you use the correct proportions of formula powder and water to provide your baby with the nutrition they need. Always wash your hands before handling the equipment and bottles to maintain a high level of hygiene. Shake the bottle well to mix the formula thoroughly before serving it to your little one.

Safe Storage of Prepared Formula


Formula should be made fresh for each feed to reduce the risk of bacteria growth. However, if you need to prepare ahead of time, store it in the refrigerator for no more than 24 hours. Remember to cover the formula and label it with the time and date it was made. Avoid leaving it at room temperature for more than 2 hours and never refreeze formula that has already been thawed.

Best Practices for Feeding

Ensuring Cleanliness

Not only is it vital to ensure that the feeding bottles, teats, and other feeding equipment are properly sterilised before each use, but it is also crucial to wash your hands thoroughly before handling breast milk or formula. This simple step can help prevent any harmful bacteria from contaminating the milk and keep your little one safe and healthy.

Tips for On-the-Go Feedings

An important tip for feeding on-the-go is to always carry pre-measured formula in a clean container, along with some boiled water in a flask to mix it when needed. Additionally, make sure to have extra feeding bottles, teats, and clean bibs handy. Knowing you have everything prepared can make feeding your baby while out and about much easier.

  • Formula in a clean container.
  • Boiled water in a flask.
  • Extra feeding bottles, teats, and clean bibs.

Plus, always check the temperature of the milk or formula before feeding your little one, ensuring it is not too hot to prevent burns. One of the most important aspects of feeding on-the-go is to never leave prepared breast milk or formula at room temperature for too long, as it can quickly become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Understanding Shelf Life and Safety

Recognizing Spoilage in Breast Milk and Formula

Milk is a precious resource for your baby, so it's important to know how to identify when it has spoiled. Recognizing spoilage in breast milk can be detected by a sour or rancid smell, a different taste, or a change in colour or consistency. Similarly, formula may separate or develop an off smell when no longer safe for consumption. Always trust your instincts and if in doubt, it's best to discard it to ensure your baby's health and safety.

Disposal of Unused Milk and Formula

Any unused breast milk or formula should be handled with care to avoid contamination. Any milk or formula that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. It's also important to note that any milk or formula that your baby has partially drank from should be thrown away to prevent the risk of bacterial growth.

Recognizing the signs of spoilage and promptly disposing of any unused milk or formula is crucial in ensuring your baby receives safe and nourishing feeds at all times.

Summing up

Now, having learned about the proper handling and storage of breast milk and formula, you can confidently ensure that your baby receives the best nutrition. By following these guidelines, you can maintain the quality and safety of the milk or formula, keeping your baby healthy and happy. Remember to always wash your hands before handling milk or formula, use clean containers, and label everything with the date and time. Whether you choose breast milk or formula, your baby's wellbeing is the top priority, so make sure to store and handle their milk correctly.


Q: Why is it important to handle and store breast milk and formula properly?

A: Proper handling and storage help maintain the nutrients in breast milk and formula, ensuring they are safe for your baby to consume.

Q: How should breast milk be stored?

A: Breast milk should be stored in clean feeding bottles or containers made of glass or BPA-free plastic, and should be kept in the refrigerator or a cooler bag with ice packs.

Q: Can I mix freshly expressed breast milk with previously expressed milk?

A: Yes, freshly expressed breast milk can be added to already cooled milk, but make sure to cool the newly expressed milk before combining them.

Q: How long can breast milk be stored in the fridge or freezer?

A: Breast milk can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months. Be sure to label containers with the date and time of expressing.

Q: What is the best way to prepare and store formula milk?

A: Follow the manufacturer's instructions to prepare formula milk correctly. It should be stored in a clean, covered container in the back of the fridge, and any unused portion should be discarded after 24 hours.

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