Hi dear mom,
You can use sterilized ice cube trays to store your breast milk or buy ice cube trays that come with a lid to protect the milk from any contamination in the freezer. Make sure to note down the date and time while storing milk in the tray. Once frozen, you can pop them out and store them in freezer zip lock bags. As one cube can be around 1oz of breast milk, use them when you need only a couple of ounces to make solids or when you need an exact number of ounces of milk. This way, it can be a lot easier than thawing a whole milk storage bag containing 4 – 8 oz of milk.
One of the things that come along with being a parent of a child is worrying about the expenditure of taking care of a child.
You have to buy formula, diapers, clothes, shoes, crib, and although you can compromise on some things or buy pre-loved stuff, things like milk storage bags or storage bottles can be quite expensive if you think about it.
Sure, when you’re sleep-deprived and tired and hardly remember what day of the week it is while taking care of a newborn, it’s straightforward to click-and-buy anything from the comfort of your home, but when you reflect later, you realize that most of these things are not at all pocket-friendly.
So, if you see, in a way, storing and freezing breast milk in an ice cube tray and using them little by little whenever you need, it can save you a lot of money on milk storage bags.
Storing breast milk in ice cube trays
Ice cube trays are a great way to store breast milk and baby food such as purees when the baby is at 6 months of age.
Storing breast milk in ice trays is a great strategy if you have engorgement or a good milk supply so that you can use it later when you can’t breastfeed directly or have a decreased milk supply.
It’s important to remember that regular ice cube trays are not designed to store breast milk. So, you need to sterilize the tray properly. You can either put the tray in boiling water but make sure the pan is bigger than the tray or run under hot water for a few minutes.
You can also opt for ice trays that have a lid on top. This way, the frozen milk can be protected against any possible contamination or freezer burn, or odor.
If you have a little more to spare, you can also buy ice trays meant to store breast milk and are easily available on Amazon.
These breast milk trays are great because they have small portions from which you can pop the frozen milk cube and use it for your newborn who only needs a couple of ounces at a time or when you want to mix just a little bit of your breast milk with baby food.
The small compartments of the breast milk trays are usually about 1 oz. So, it’s easier for you to figure out how much oz of milk you need.
These milk trays are easy to handle by a caregiver if you decide to go back to work or have gone out to run an errand. The caregiver can simply pop out a couple of cubes, thaw them, and feed them to your little one.
Storing your breast milk in ice trays does come with downsides, as it’s somewhat a lengthy process and can be messy at times, and if you don’t handle it well, there’s a risk of contamination too.
Compared to this, easier methods include directly pumping into milk storage bags and pop it in the freezer.
But, if you’re ready to walk the little extra mile, it’s a one-time process, and you can build a bigger stash, and later, things become easier for you as you can remove as many cubes as much oz of milk you need.
How to store breast milk in breast milk trays
You need to be very careful while pouring the breast milk into these trays as you don’t want to waste even a little bit of the ‘liquid gold.’
Wash your hands properly before you pump or even touch the breast pump. Make sure to sterilize the breast pumps, bottles, and ice cube trays before you start pumping. After pumping your milk, pour the milk carefully from the bottle into the ice cube tray.
Remember to note down the date and time while freezing the milk in the ice tray. Use the older one to minimize any wastage of milk stored earlier.
Because of the lids on the ice trays, you can stack them one above another and reuse them multiple times.
Once frozen, if you want to reuse the ice tray again, pop the breast milk cubes and transfer them into freezer zip lock bags.
Push the extra air from the freezer bags with your hands, and then close the bag. Make sure that the freezer bags are sterilized and were not previously used to store something else in the fridge.
Write down the date and time when the milk was pumped and stored. You can also transfer the smaller freezer bags into a large freezer bag for double protection.
Make sure to wash your hands before you touch the milk cubes. Hygiene is critical when dealing with the milk cubes; otherwise, you’ll contaminate them without realizing it.
Also, place the ice trays deep in the freezer and not in the compartment on the fridge door because the milk can be affected due to changing temperature while opening and closing the freezer door.
It’s better to transfer the breast milk cubes into the freezer bags as frozen milk keeps for a prolonged time in the ice cube trays can affect the odor and taste of the frozen milk.
Breastmilk storage guidelines
Storage temperature and locations
|Types of Breast milk||At Room Temperature (77°F / 25°C or colder)||Refrigerator (40°F / 4°C)||Freezer (0°F / -18°C or colder)|
|Freshly pumped||Up to 4 hours||Up to 4 days||Up to 6 months is considered best, but you can store for up to 12 months in a deep freezer.|
|Thawed, Previously Frozen||1 – 2 hours||Up to 24 hours||Don’t refreeze milk once it’s been thawed.|
Regarding leftover breast milk
You might have some leftover milk after your recent feeding session.
If not spoiled, then use the leftover milk within 2 hours after the baby has finished feeding.
Storage tips for storing breast milk
- Sterilize all breast pump parts, clean your breasts with a wet cloth and wash your hands.
- Check whether the container for storing breast milk is BPA free.
- Label the bottle or the breast milk bags with the date and time it was expressed.
- If you’re not planning to use the milk in the refrigerator within 4 days, freeze it immediately.
- If you’re planning to store breast milk in freezer bags directly, consider filling the bags in smaller portions as per the baby needs and later adjust accordingly.
- Breast milk can be stored in insulated cooler with frozen packs for up to 24 hours while traveling. When you reach your destination, either use the milk, or refrigerate it or freeze it immediately.
- Once frozen or refrigerated milk is brought back to room temperature, use within 2 hours. Don’t heat milk on the stove or in the microwave.
- You can freshly expressed breast milk to the already refrigerated or frozen breast milk but cool it with ice packs before adding it to the previously chilled milk. Don’t add warm breast milk to the frozen milk as it can cause the frozen milk to partially thaw.
How to safely thaw frozen breast milk?
Make sure to thaw the oldest milk first. You can either place the frozen milk in the refrigerator overnight, or set it in a container of warm or lukewarm water, or set it under running lukewarm water. Make sure not to thaw or heat frozen breast milk in the microwave. After thawing, don’t refreeze it again.
What happens if a baby drinks spoiled breast milk?
Your baby might either not accept the milk or spit it out or can vomit the milk after drinking it. However, babies will rarely get diarrhea or fever after drinking spoiled breast milk.
Do I need to wash breast pump parts after every use?
You should definitely wash the pump parts after every use, but you don’t have to sterilize or sanitize them after every use. Sterilize the pumps before the first use on that day and then wash them after every use. Repeat the process every time you’re pumping.
So, if you want to save a little money here and there and still want the best for your kid, storing breast milk in breast milk trays is a good strategy and pocket-friendly.
But you need to make sure to follow the storage guidelines properly and kindly wash your hands properly before and after dealing with a breast pump, expressed milk, and frozen milk.
This works best for you even if you’re not available to feed your baby, and a caregiver can follow the simple instructions and thaw the milk properly and feed your little one.
Meanwhile, comment down below and tell us your way of storing your breast milk.