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Are you looking for the best breast milk storage bags to use for your “liquid gold?”
Well, let me tell you. My first son consumed donor breast milk for the first five months of his life, so I have personal experience with a multitude of breastmilk storage bags: the great, the terrible, the okay, and the best.
You might be shocked to learn that the breast milk storage bags used most frequently are not even in the “highly recommended” group of storage bags.
Time and time again, I lost precious breast milk because the storage bag used was so poorly made that holes would appear and it would spill as soon as it thawed.
Whether you pump extra breast milk for your baby or a friend’s baby, you are going to need storage bags. Don’t be fooled into thinking Lansinoh is the best! It isn’t.
Not only do you need to know about the best breast milk storage bags, but also how to store, care for, sanitize, and label them.
Consider this post as your ultimate guide to breast milk storage. We’re going to cover: various brands of the storage bags, information about each brand, features and highlights of highly recommended storage bags, advantages and disadvantages of different products/brands, and more.
Let’s get started.
WHY BREAST MILK BAGS?
What type of storage container do I want to use? Bottles vs. Bags.
“Bags made especially for storing breast milk are designed to protect the nutrients and anti-infective qualities of human milk. They are sterile and don’t require any preparation before use.
They are thicker than the bottle liners sold for use with disposable bottle systems, which may split during freezing and may cause a decrease in the antibodies and fat which adhere to the sides of the bags. They also take up less room in your freezer, and the milk thaws faster than milk frozen in hard containers.”// BreastfeedingBasics.com
What you decide to use comes down to two important things:
- Protecting the milk and all its valuable components.
- Your convenience and that of the baby’s caregivers.
Once you use breast milk bags, it’s hard to go back. Bags are incredibly convenient, disposable, and compact enough to save tons of space in your freezer.
BREAST MILK BAG MAINTENANCE + USE + COMMON QUESTIONS
How many breast milk storage bags do I need?
Knowing how many storage bags you need will differ from woman to woman. It greatly depends on the amount of excess milk you are pumping. I began with a box of 25 bags but quickly realized a box of 100 bags would better meet my needs due to the amount of milk I was able to pump.
To give you an idea, I pumped about 30 extra ounces a day for three months (recently transitioned to nursing the son I was pumping extra for!). I used about five bags a day pumping that much. So the box of 25 ran out in less than a week.
If you are only pumping one bag a day, a box of 25 or 50 bags will last you quite a while.
Do I need to clean & sterilize breast milk storage bags?
One of the great conveniences of storage bags is that they come sterilized, and then you toss them in the trash! Breast milk storage bags are for one-time uses. You do not need to clean them before or after using.
Can I reuse my breast milk storage bags?
Reusing is strongly discouraged. The bags are for one-time use only. If you want to invest in a reusable storage container, choose glass or plastic bottles made for breast milk storage.
How do I fill my breastmilk storage bags?
It isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but the simplest way to fill your storage bags is to open the top and dump in the milk. You can watch this YouTube video here for tips.
If you are using one of my most recommended storage bags (Kiinde) which you will soon learn of, you can screw the bag onto your actual pump part. HOW COOL IS THAT? Very cool.
How do I thaw breast milk I have stored in bags?
Never, I repeat, NEVER thaw or heat breast milk in the microwave or on the stove. It kills all of the nutrients.
You have two options:
- If you do not need the milk immediately, you can place the entire bag of frozen milk in a bowl in the refrigerator. The milk will defrost in about 12 hours.
- For a quicker thawing method, hold the container under running water. Start with cool water and gradually increase the temperature.
NOTE: Never refreeze breastmilk once thawed.
How do I warm breast milk I have thawed?
Let me say this again – NEVER thaw or heat breast milk in the microwave or on the stove. It kills all of the nutrients.
Heat water in a cup or other small container and place the bag of defrosted milk in the water to warm. If you do not need all of the milk in the bag at once, pour what you do need the bottle, store the rest of the thawed milk in the refrigerator, and place the bottle in the warm water. The milk does not need to be hot.
You can also opt for a bottle warmer. Bottle warmers are sold online as well as most stores such as Target or Fred Meyers. We find them unnecessary, though.
If there is milk left over in the bag, you can store the leftover milk in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Again, if the breastmilk was frozen and you thawed it NEVER refreeze it.
How do I label breast milk storage bags?
Most, if not all, breast milk storage bags are made with labels you can write on with a permanent marker. Write the day and time on each bag immediately when storing so you know in what order to use the milk (using the oldest first). When I eat a little dairy, I make a side note on the bag because one of my boys cannot have dairy; this helps me keep separate the breast milk that is safe for him.
Does my insurance cover breast milk storage bags?
Most insurances do not cover breast milk storage bags. Most insurance plans do cover breast pumps! The best way to find out is to call the member number on the back of your card. If they do cover bags, an example of coverage is 150 bags every 90 days. But again, every insurance plan is different.
Are breast milk storage bags interchangeable?
Yes! You can use multiple kinds of bags and brands, especially if you are pumping milk straight into your breast pump’s bottle. You simply pour the milk straight into the bag from the bottle.
How do I seal breast milk storage bags?
If you are purchasing one of the brands I recommend below, they come with a zip lock built in. If you are using Playtex nurser liners, you use little zip ties.
However, we recommend against nurser liners as they do not protect the necessary nutrients in your liquid gold!
Also, be sure to squeeze out any air bubbles before sealing to maintain the quality of the milk.
How do I prevent breast milk storage bags from leaking?
Be sure to fill bags only to the maximum amount listed on the bag. Example: my Up&Up bags have lines until 6 ounces. Do not pour more than 6 ounces in the bag.
As breast milk freezes it expands. The fuller the bag, the more likely the seams will burst.
Also, be gentle with your bags and frozen milk. Do not drop them on hard surfaces.
“When milk storage bags leak not only is milk lost in volume but the composition of the milk is changed such as fat, protein, and nutritional content. If your bag has a hole or is not sealed properly it is possible for germs and bacteria to get inside the milk. // www.themilkbank.org
How do I store full breast milk storage bags in the freezer?
Flat! A lot of women do not realize the importance of laying the full bags flat. Putting the bags flat keep the bags from expanding in weird spots and tearing the seams.
‘TIP: Store bags in a plastic storage bin, shoe box or other container in your freezer. Some moms even use a separate container to store milk in order by earliest date frozen.” // www.themilkbank.org
Can I use breast milk storage bags with my pump?
Yes, you can pump directly into specific storage bags for concrete pumps. Example: Medela has pump-and-save bags which connect straight to your Medela pump.
You just attach them with a connecting adaptor. It acts as an oxygen barrier and preserves and protects the breast milk nutrients.
BREAST MILK STORAGE BAG REVIEWS
(* = recommended)
Ameda has a convenient, tear-off pour spout and has durable plastic, so the bag stands right side up pretty well on its own. The zipper is secure, but it is incredibly small compared to other brands. Being certain it is closed can be difficult.
You can use the Medela adaptors and pump straight into these bags. They have a 4 out of 5-star rating on Amazon.
Most common complaints: These bags are not an accurate measurement of your breast milk, and the shape of this bag makes stacking them flat in the freezer difficult.
This bag is fabulous, durable, and trustworthy. You won’t have as many, if any, accidental leaks.
The measurements are off by about a half an ounce. Many people find they have to cut open the bags. Freezer burn is also a concern for this brand and the thin plastic used.
They do lay incredibly flat, which makes storing in the freezer exquisite.
However, the plastic is flimsy. We ended up putting the frozen bag of milk in a second ziplock bag to thaw so we could still use the milk after it leaked.
This organizer has a spring loaded drawer that freezes milk flat and pushes it up front. Highly recommended.
They feel thin, cheap, and crinkly. The zipper is challenging and is known to leak. We recommend avoiding this brand of bags.
They leaked too many times to count, and breast milk is liquid gold: you do not want to be spilling it only because your bag is poor quality. The zipper is difficult to open as well.
A double zipper opening securely locks your breast milk in the bag. When thawing I have never had breast milk leak out of a double zippered seal, which has always been due to the seams splitting.
If you are going to go down the Ziplock path, then a double zip is a must.” // www.parent.guide
The screw on lid is famous because they feel extra safe in keeping that liquid gold inside! As with virtually every storage bag, the measurement is off.
Up&Up a Target specific brand and became my go-to brand of bags. Out of the hundreds of bags that I have used, I had little if any leaks from these bags.
The plastic used is very durable, the zip lock is unyielding, and they are easy to stack flat one on top of the other.
These bags are durable and simple. These bags are highly recommended.
BONUS: Check out the collective breastmilk storage bag review video below for even more info!
Did we cover all of the basics and more? Did we answer all of the important questions? Was this an adequate breast milk storage guide? If not, what can we add and what did we miss?
What has been your experience with breast milk storage bags and which brands do you recommend?
Featured image source: www.parents.com
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