I have frozen breast milk for all of my babies and that frozen milk came in especially handy on two occasions.
Once when I sent my 5 month old out of town with his dad to visit his grandparents for the weekend. And the second time was when I froze a bunch of milk for my 6 month old when I went out of town for 5 days.
There are three ways you can freeze breast milk, but which way is the easiest? Let's see:
• In a plastic bottle
When freezing breast milk in a plastic bottle after pumping, make sure you leave a few inches of empty space at the top of the bottle, otherwise the milk will spill out and freeze on the outside of the bottle and all over the freezer once it starts expanding.
Also put a piece of tape on the bottle and write the date on it. Write your baby's name on it also if they go to daycare.
• In a breast milk storage bag
When a using storage bag write the date and your baby's name on the bag first, before you pour your milk in the bag. So many times I have did it the other way around - filling the bag with milk and then trying to label it. It's not so easy trying to write on a bag full of liquid.
Also, don't fill the bag to the top. Leave a few inches of space at the top of the bag and squeeze the air out before closing, that way you won't open your freezer to find a freezer full of spilled milk.
• In a breast milk freezer tray
Freezing breast milk in a milk tray is a very good option, one that I just recently found out about, because it allows you to freeze your breast milk into milk sticks that fit easily into a bottle.
After pumping, pour your milk into the milk tray and freeze. After your milk has frozen, pop the milk sticks out, put them in a big freezer bag and write the date on the bag. Place in the freezer for later. Repeat.
Next are guidelines to follow on how long your milk will last depending on your freezer type:
• 2 weeks in freezer if your refrigerator has one door that connects to both the freezer and refigerator. In other words, your freezer is opened everytime you open your refrigerator door. Place milk in back of freezer.
• 4 months in freezer if your freezer is connected to your refrigerator, but has a separate door. Place milk in back of freezer.
• 12 months in freezer if your freezer is not connected to your refrigerator at all. This is sometimes called a deep freezer. Some people have this type of freezer in their basement or garage. Although my grandma has one in her kitchen and my mom has her's in the laundry room.
So how do you use frozen breast milk?
HOW TO USE FROZEN BREAST MILK
Remember those dates you put on your breast milk...now it's time to use them. Always use the oldest dated milk first, because you don't want your milk to get too old and you end up throwing it away.
Breast milk doesn't take long to thaw, but do not microwave it. You will kill it. Remember, your milk is alive.
• If you froze your milk in a breast milk storage bag, place your bag in a bowl of warm water or put it under warm running water. If you're in a rush, you can use hot water.
If you're using a bowl of warm water, check on it every so often to see if you have to add more warm water once the water starts cooling.
Once the milk has thawed, mix it around in the bag and pour it into a bottle.
• If you froze your milk in a bottle, place the bottle in a tall cup or bowl and fill it with warm water. Or hold it under warm running water. Hot water won't hurt here either, if it's necessary. Once your milk has thawed, shake the bottle up and feed it to your baby.
• If you froze your milk in a breast milk freezer tray , take one of the milk sticks out and put it into a bottle. Then follow the steps for unfreezing milk in a bottle.
So, which way is the easiest way when freezing breast milk?
The breast milk trays are the easiest.Why? Because you are not putting all of your bottles in the freezer, you have them to use now.
You won't have to unfreeze a whole storage bag full of breast milk and then later find out your baby doesn't want all of it...now you feel as if you have to throw it away.
With the milk sticks, you put one stick at a time in the bottle, which will be a good amount for your baby to drink. If he wants more, you can add and defrost another stick. You are wasting less milk that way.
As you can see, freezing breast milk is simple and frozen breast milk definitely comes in hand when you want to go somewhere without your baby and you haven't pumped.
Which is the easiest way for you?