There are a few reasons you may need or want to express your breast milk and pop it in the freezer for later use. Perhaps you need to relieve engorgement in the early days or discomfort after an incomplete feed, or possibly you’re planning to be away from your baby and need to plan ahead with milk feeds ready to go in the freezer. Whatever the purpose, here are things you might want to keep in mind when freezing your breast milk – and tips on using Qubies freezer trays to do it.
Choosing a container
You can store expressed breast milk in resealable plastic bags, plastic containers, glass bottles or ice cube trays. Before pouring your breast milk into the storage containers, you’ll need to wash, rinse and sterilise or disinfect them, so before you buy, be sure to check the manufacturer’s care instructions and suitability for use in sterilising machines. If you’re using Qubies, you can sterilise them (both tray and lid) by boiling in water for 10 minutes (use a large saucepan with a lid, and leave it covered until ready to use), running through a dishwasher on a minimum wash setting of 80 degrees celsius (fill the Qubies as soon as the cycle is complete), or in a non-toxic, cold sterilising solution, such as Milton, according to the packet directions.
Measuring your milk
If you’re using plastic bags, bottles or standard ice cube trays, be sure to measure the volume of milk before transferring it to a storage container, and label it with the amount in millilitres. Keep in mind that very young babies may only require as little as 60ml of breast milk for one feed, so freeze milk in small portions that you can defrost as your baby needs them – you must use defrosted milk immediately when left at room temperature (or up to 24 hours if thawed in the fridge) and there’s nothing as disheartening as watching perfectly good breast milk go down the drain! Qubies trays hold 240ml of milk, and the lid divides this neatly into eight (approx) 30ml portions.
Clever Qubies Tip: Qubies 30ml frozen breast milk portions are perfect for making baby rice cereal and adding purees, to thin them out to the correct consistency. Adding a Qubies square of breast milk makes the new flavours of cereal, fruits, vegies and meat more familiar to your baby – as they grow to like new foods, you can decrease the ratio of milk to solid.
It all adds up
After expressing, place the milk in the fridge to cool, then pour into the storage container and transfer to the freezer. If this isn’t enough for a full feed or to fill a Qubies tray, you can add the next lot of expressed milk to the first batch in the fridge within a 24-hour period. Once full, pop on the lid and transfer to the freezer.
Always label your breast milk with the date and time you expressed it. If collecting milk in a 24-hour window, note the date and time of the first batch of milk. Guidelines for healthy babies are to use frozen milk (kept in a freezer section of a fridge with a separate door, not a freezer compartment inside a fridge) within three months of expressing it. Use the oldest milk first, to avoid unnecessary waste. And if popping out your Qubies cubes to store in a plastic bag, be sure to transfer the label to keep tabs on your milk!
For more information, visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s page on expressing and storing breast milk here: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/breastfeeding-and-work/expressing-and-storing-breastmilk