It wasn’t easy, but you finally managed to conquer your torturous breast pump. You’ve gotten over the creeping sensation of being a walking milk-machine and are now wielding your breast shields like a true pro.
Admiring a fell bottle of perfect, nutritious breast milk that you made can feel almost as good as striking oil. Good for you!
Now you just have to put it in something before it spoils. Quickly.
To make sure all your hard work doesn’t go to waste, you’ll want a storage solution that keeps your milk wholesome and fresh for your baby, when they need it. Let’s take a look at what that entails.
|1. Lansinoh Storage Bags||Firm Favorite|
|2. NUK Seal ‘n Go||No Leaks|
|3. Ameda Store ‘n Pour||A Reliable Choice|
|4. Mommy’s Precious||Cutest Design|
|5. Bow-Tiger Bags||Best In Bulk|
|6. Kiinde Twist Pouch||Boob To Baby|
Why Should I Buy Special Bags?
If you are like I was when I was a new mom, you might wonder why you can’t just use a ziplock bag that you would find in any grocery store. After all, it would be more convenient, and if you can store adult food in them, shouldn’t they be okay for breast milk?
Here’s why you should pass on the plastic baggies and opt for breast milk storage bags:
- They are different from ziplock bags – they are specially made to store breast milk.
- They are BPA-free, thicker and can be used to freeze, thaw and warm the milk.
- Breast milk storage bags are heavy duty and sterile, which means your baby has a smaller chance of getting sick from any stray germs.
- It’s much easier to pour milk out of a breast milk storage bag than it is a ziplock bag– many of them have spouts just for that reason.
Breast milk storage bags are also not the same thing as the bottle bags that are sometimes used for feeding. Those bags are much flimsier and aren’t recommended for storing milk – they are only to be used for feeding purposes.
What Should I Look For?
- Durability: If you put it in the fridge or freezer and it gets a hole in it, you’re going to be upset. And by upset, I mean ugly crying.
- Size: If your baby is a newborn, you’ll want to go with a small bag – one that only holds up to four ounces.
- Material: Choose healthy BPA-free plastic and if it’s important to you, look for recyclable bags.
- Usability: Sturdy seals and bags that stand upright are ideal features.
Best Breast Milk Storage Bags of 2018
There are so many things to think about when you start breastfeeding, even more so when you consider adding a breast pump to the mix. Not only do you want to make sure your baby is safe and feeding to their heart’s content, but you’ll also need to pay attention to latching correctly and avoiding the horror of cracked nipples.
The last thing you need is a breast milk bag that’ll let you down. As a mom, the less you have to worry about, the better. A bag that’s tough and practical is what you’re after – bonus points if you can use it with a hungry baby in the other arm!
With all this in mind, here are our top 6 picks in 2018:
1. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags
These are some of the larger bags on the market, and they have a patented double zipper seal, which means your breast milk shouldn’t end up all over the fridge shelf and any unsuspecting veggies.
It saves you from having to clean up your fridge and pump extra milk to make up for the loss. Lansinoh bags have a pourable spout to help get breast milk into bottles without spilling a drop.
These bags are designed to lay flat in the refrigerator or freezer to save room while storing multiple bags.
- It’s easy to tell when the double zipper is closed.
- If your baby is a little older and needs a larger quantity of breast milk, you might like these bigger bag sizes– they hold 6 ounces.
- Moms worried about the environment should be happy to know these bags are recyclable.
- These don’t have a plastic smell or taste.
- To open these bags, you have to tear the top off and open a perforated edge which some women find takes longer than opening other storage bags.
- Moms might not like that these are tricky to stand upright while pouring milk in because they’re made of a thinner plastic than other bags.
2. NUK Seal ‘n Go Breast Milk Bags
These bags also use a double zipper seal, and they guarantee they are 100 percent leak-proof. NUK bags have a top seal that prevents tampering and a gusset-free bottom which should mean fewer leaks from the bags’ corners.
The bags are self-standing, but they can also be stacked in the freezer to save room. The bags hold 6 ounces of milk and when frozen, you simply run warm water over the bags to thaw the milk. Because the bags are waterproof and seal well, all you’ll get is pure milk after thawing and pouring into a bottle – not a watered-down mixture.
- Moms may find it easier to get the air out of these bags because they aren’t as thick as some other bags.
- The writing section used for labeling is on the tab, not on the bag like some other brands.
- Because these bags are thinner, moms may find it’s trickier to get them to stand upright without a struggle.
- Moms may not like the sometimes strong plastic smell these bags have.
3. Ameda Store ‘n Pour Breast Milk Bags
A Reliable Choice
These bags were made with a multi-ply design to help avoid splits and cracks. Ameda Store ‘n Pour bags have resealable zippers that are easy to close.
They also have a pour spout to cut down on spills. The bags are BPA free and safe for the freezer.
The thick plastic helps the bags stand up on their own, and frees you from needing extra arms to get milk transferred into the bags. Ameda bags are also smaller than many others, holding only 5 ounces.
- Moms like that the bags don’t burst if they’re overfilled.
- The handy pour spout allows you to fill a bottle even while you’re holding your baby.
- If you use these bags in the freezer, you won’t be able to freeze the full 5 ounces because the bags don’t have much room left at the 5-ounce line. Some bags contain extra space just for the expansion created when the milk freezes, but these don’t.
- The shape of the bag – the top is smaller than the bottom – makes them difficult to stack evenly.
4. Mommy’s Precious Breast Milk Bags
These bags are not only BPA free – they are latex and phthalate free. Mommy’s Precious bags stand up by themselves because of their gusseted bottom design, so you don’t have to struggle and prop them up just to fill them.
The bags are made in China and use a double zipper lock for closure. These are some big bags – they hold up to 8 ounces of milk. Once filled, they freeze flat to save on storage space.
These bags also claim their measuring lines are 95 percent accurate, which should be a big help to women who are tracking every ounce their child eats.
- The accurate measurements should help moms assess how much milk to pour into each bag.
- The safety seal on the bags prevents bacteria from entering.
- Moms may find these bags tricky to open because of the perforation on the bag.
- Although the plastic is thick, it may feel a bit brittle, especially in the freezer.
5. Bow-Tiger Breast Milk Storage Bags
Best in Bulk
Latex and BPA free, these bags also are made from a phthalates-free material. Bow-Tiger bags stand on their own and have a double zipper seal which makes them less likely to leak.
Made of thick, sturdy plastic, these bags hold 6 ounces each and come with a safety seal to ensure the bags haven’t been contaminated before use.
A sizable record panel on these bags has a spot for you to write your baby’s name, the number of ounces in the bag, and the date and the time you pumped the milk.
- These bags don’t spill when you’re pouring milk into them because the plastic is so rigid.
- Moms may appreciate the fun heart decorations on the bags.
- These bags have a lot of extra room after the full mark, which might make moms feel more confident the bags won’t leak after the milk expands in the freezer.
- Some pens won’t work on the labeling area – you might have to use markers or sticker labels.
- Women may not appreciate having to use scissors to cut the safety seal tops off these bags.
6. Kiinde Twist Pouch
Boob to Baby
If you’re the kind of mom who values convenience above all, these nifty bags might be for you. Halfway between a bag and a bottle, these pouches come with a twist cap that attaches to most breast pumps and the brand’s own bottle converter.
This means you can pump directly into the bag, store it, then attach the bag to an adaptor and a range of nipples to feed your baby. No pouring, decanting or measuring out – everything stays in one bag from “boob to baby”!
While quite convenient, an extra benefit of this system is that you’re reducing the chances of bacteria getting into the milk and causing trouble. Plus you’ll cut down on bottle washing, which is always a win.
- The bags are recyclable.
- Will fit onto any pump.
- The cap seals tightly so you don’t have to fiddle with zipper seals and risk leaks and spills.
- Convenient: collect, store and feed all with the same pouch.
- The bags aren’t completely flat and not as easy to store as those with a simpler design.
- Only one size available.
- The full range with all the accessories may be too pricey for some.
Can I Just Use Cheap Plastic Bags?
You wouldn’t go shopping and pick out a pair of shoes simply because they were the cheapest in the store. And you don’t want to pick out breast milk storage bags solely based on price either – you want to look for quality, and you need to ensure the ones you pick are meeting all your needs.
Even though they’re just bags, some of them have features that make them better than others. This is why you should consider choosing high-quality storage bags over cheap, inferior brands.
Whoever made up that old saying, “There’s no use crying over spilled milk” had clearly never pumped their breasts.
Nothing can turn a new mom into The Incredible Hulk faster than a leak from a breast milk storage bag.
Pumping that milk isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, so to see a puddle of it on a fridge shelf is enough to bring out some serious rage. Worse yet, you don’t want to have a hungry baby on your hands and open the fridge to find your last stored bag has gone and broken on you.
Superior bags have a design that makes it easy to pour milk into and out of these bags without spilling a drop.
As a new mom, it can feel like you’ve spent half your life pumping only to end up with enough milk to fill a sewing thimble. So you want every last drop accounted for, no excuses.
Unless you’re a compulsive cleaner, the freezer can be a nasty place. Just to be on the safe side, you want to make sure any breast milk you save is tightly sealed in a heavy duty bag to prevent any cross contamination from that bag of fish sticks you still have from 2003.
You also need to label the breast milk with a date so you can toss any that expires. The dates also help you rotate your stock by allowing you to put the freshest ones in the back. Some bags have designated writing areas that are in an easy-to-spot location.
How Do I Use Breast Milk Storage Bags?
Before beginning to pump, you should wash your hands, just like you would do if you were preparing dinner for your family (source).
After you’ve finished pumping, take the milk you’ve collected and put it in a storage bag which you’ll either store in the refrigerator or the freezer. All you have to do is open your bag, pour the milk in, and remove excess air before sealing.
If you’ve put 8 ounces of breast milk in a bottle and started feeding your baby, but he’s only able to drink 4 ounces at a time, you’re out of luck. Once your baby has started feeding off that bottle, any extra breast milk in there needs to be thrown away – it can’t be saved. Once your baby’s saliva has mixed with the breast milk, it can’t be refrigerated again (source).
If your baby needs more than you’ve given her in one bag, you can simply add more milk to her bottle from another bag. Then you can reseal that bag and put it in the refrigerator again until you need the rest of it.
Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
- Store milk in the fridge in specially designed glass bottles or BPA-free plastic bags.
- Babies under 2 weeks old need 2 to 3 ounces of milk per bag.
- Older babies need around 3.5 ounces per bag.
- You can keep thawed milk a further 24 hours in the fridge.
- Never refreeze milk.
- Warmer milk has a shorter life span. Discard any milk left over after feeding.
- Babies can have chilled milk only once they’re a few months old.
- Mixing milk from different “batches” is OK if neither is spoiled.
Deciding Which Bag is Freshest
You should label the bag with a date and time to make sure you know when it was pumped. If your fridge is anything like mine, things get shoved around, moved from shelf to shelf and jammed way in the back, so it’s easy to lose track of which one is the oldest bag if you don’t label it.
It’s a simple step that takes the guesswork out of milk storage.
If you plan to bring milk bags to a daycare, you should also write your child’s name on the bag.
I spent a year right after college working in a daycare while I looked for a job and it was unbelievable how many people would forget to put their child’s name on the bag. At any given time in the daycare there were multiple bags of breast milk in the refrigerator, but there was no way to tell who they belonged to!
Just grab a marker and write baby’s name on any bags you’re taking outside the house, and the problem’s solved.
Storage Bottles vs. Storage Bags
You may be wondering whether you can just store your breast milk in a bottle instead of a bag. The answer is yes, but consider a few key features of bottles before you choose them as a storage method:
- Bottles are durable and less likely to leak.
- Bottles can be sterilized and reused.
- They’re less likely to be contaminated since they can’t be snagged or torn as easily.
- Bottles take up WAY more space in the freezer than bags, and can’t be compressed.
- Bottles are more expensive.
- Milk stored in bottles may take longer to heat up.
Ultimately, it’s your choice. I recommend opting for bottles if you know you’ll be primarily storing milk in the fridge in the short term. If you’re producing a lot of milk or want to keep it frozen for a longer time, bags are the better option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some commonly asked questions about breast milk storage bags to help you in your breastfeeding quest:
One of the most important things to know about breast milk storage bags is that they are not reusable. You use them once, and then you toss them out. No questions asked.
Don’t try to rinse and reuse them, as they’ll no longer be sterile. It isn’t worth taking the chance of endangering your baby just to save a few dollars.
You’ve just pumped a fresh batch of breast milk, but you won’t need it for a while because your baby is napping. What should you do with it? Should you put it in the fridge right away?
Here are the guidelines:
You can safely leave breast milk on the counter, completely unrefrigerated if your room is at 77 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler, for up to 6 hours (source). When stored in the fridge, you can keep breast milk for 5 days, and in an upright deep freezer, breast milk can be stored up to 6 months (source). If you’re storing it in the freezer section of your refrigerator, it won’t last as long.
You can thaw it in the refrigerator, which can take around 12 hours, or you can thaw it by running it under warm water while it’s still in the storage bag. Never heat the breast milk storage bags in the microwave. Once the milk thaws, you can’t refreeze it.
After you have defrosted breast milk, it can last up to 24 hours if kept in the fridge. You should always defrost the oldest milk first – that way you can minimize wastage.
Every mom is scared of giving her child spoiled breast milk. By paying attention to dates and weird smells, you can minimize the chances of giving your baby bad milk.
Smell any milk that’s been in the refrigerator for three days or more. It can certainly last longer than that in the fridge, but it’s wise to start checking it at that point.
Every woman’s milk supply is different. Breastfeeding takes some trial and error, but aim to have at least a week’s supply of feeds stored just in case. You can then pump again to replenish the store as you go.
If you’re starting out, begin with about 30 bags and adjust as you get a better idea of your pumping routine. Some women pump every morning for that same day. Others will have excess milk once they return to work and will put everything directly into the freezer.
Room temperature or body temperature milk is usually best for babies. Thaw frozen milk in the fridge before using. Chilled milk can be warmed by placing in a bowl of warm water (about 99 Fahrenheit) before gently swirling to mix.
Alternatively, a bottle warmer can do the trick. Whatever you do, keep breast milk out of the microwave and don’t boil it, or you risk destroying the milk’s nutrients or scalding your baby.
Honestly, no. I know it’s tempting for the price, and in a pinch a Ziploc bag could prove to be a good emergency solution. But these bags are not sterile, and nowhere near thick or sturdy enough to do the trick. Trust me on this!
Some bags are going to be tricky to write on, depending on the plastic they’re made from. Ditch ballpoint pens and use a fine-tipped permanent marker. Alternatively, try these fun labels or else get some cheap sticky labels or paper tape from the stationery shop. If you’re feeling creative, you could also identify bags by color-coding them with pegs, decals or paper clips.
Try these Spectra pre-sterilized milk storage bags. They’re double-walled, freezer safe and calibrated so you can measure the volume.
Try these Medela breast milk storage bags. They’re sturdy and come highly rated by other moms.
Lansinoh takes the prize as my favorite breast milk storage bag. Despite our best efforts as moms and protectors of our breast milk, spills and leaks are just a fact of life. They will occasionally happen with any brand out there. But the pourable spout and double zipper seal makes leaks a rarity with these bags.
Lansinoh bags are the best all-purpose storage bag – they work well in both the freezer and fridge and thaw out easily– and they don’t have that horrible plastic taste or smell. They hold a little more milk than some of their competitors, which is nice for when your baby’s appetite grows.
What breast milk bags do you swear by? Are you more of a bags or bottles kind of mom? Please comment below if you’ve got some much-valued breastfeeding wisdom, or share this article with a mom who needs it!