Breast Milk Storage Bags and Containers

Breast milk bags and containers are specifically designed for the storage of breast milk, and each type of container has pros and cons. The type of container that will best meet your needs depends on the reason you're storing your milk, how much you need to store, and how long you will be storing it. If you're storing your milk in the refrigerator for a few hours or a few days, it may be easier to pump directly into a baby bottle. But for long-term storage in a freezer, you will need a container that can withstand the freezing and thawing of breast milk.

When pumping for a sick child in the hospital, or a premature baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), you may have to use containers provided to you by the hospital. Be sure to follow the hospital's procedure for the collection and storage of your breast milk, and label all of your milk properly.

There are also specific guidelines to follow if you would like to become a milk donor. The milk bank will provide you with instructions for collecting, freezing and shipping your breast milk.

For your own home use, breast milk can be stored in breast milk storage bags, hard plastic containers, freezer-safe glass containers or breast milk storage trays.

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Breast Milk Storage Bags

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Breast milk storage bags are plastic bags designed to hold and store breast milk. They're pre-sterilized, disposable and freezer-safe. Storage bags are more convenient than plastic or glass containers because they take up less space in your refrigerator of freezer. Plus, they save time since milk stored in bags will thaw out more quickly. Another advantage to using storage bags is that they are disposable, so there is no cleaning involved. You use them once and throw them away.

The downside of storage bags is that they are not as strong and reliable as glass or plastic containers. Plastic bags can tear, rip, or break, causing you to lose some of your milk. You could also lose milk while transferring it to and from the bag. In general, you'll have to express or pump into a different container and then transfer the milk into the bag for storage. Then once it's thawed out, you'll need to transfer it into a bottle to be used for feeding. Some brands of breast milk storage bags come with an adapter that can be attached to your pump, allowing you to pump directly into the bag. But not all adapters fit all pumps, so check compatibility prior to purchasing these types of bags.

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Plastic Breast Milk Storage Bottles and Containers

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Plastic breast milk storage bottles and containers are durable and convenient. They are stronger than disposable plastic storage bags, so they're less likely to break or leak. And since they can be washed and reused, they're also more environmentally friendly. Plastic storage bottles can save you time since many brands can attach directly to your breast pump, allowing you to pump, store, and then feed your baby from the same bottle. Different pumps may be compatible with only certain brands of storage bottles, so be sure to check which bottles fit your pump before you buy them.

Plastic bottles designed for the storage of breast milk are freezer-safe. They should be BPA-free and have a cap that provides an airtight seal. When using them in the freezer, do not fill them to the top. Fill the bottles 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up since breast milk expands, and the containers can burst if they are overfilled.

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Glass Containers

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Glass containers are a strong and environmentally friendly way to store breast milk. They are reusable and provide protection against contamination. However, they take up a good deal of storage space and can be dangerous.

Not all glass can be placed in the freezer. If you would like to store your breast milk in the freezer, be sure your glass containers are freezer-safe. Do not use glass baby bottles or any other glass container in your freezer if it's not designed to withstand freezing temperatures. It's also very important to thaw freezer-safe glass slowly when removing it from the freezer. The change in temperature could cause glass to crack or break.

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Breast Milk Trays

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Breast milk storage trays are reusable food-safe plastic trays with lids that are designed specifically to freeze breast milk and homemade baby food. The portions are frozen in one-ounce or smaller servings to allow you to defrost only what you need for your baby. These trays are probably not ideal if you are storing a large amount of milk, but they're great for the newborn stage, or when your baby begins eating solid foods. The portion size is perfect for mixing with cereal or thinning out baby food. And once they're no longer needed for breast milk or baby food, they can be used for other recipes, or as ice cube trays.

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