The 6 Best Ice Packs For Breast Milk
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Need to transport your liquid gold? The best ice packs for breast milk will ensure your milk stays cool, and they will come in a size and shape that pairs well with your milk storage containers (whether that be bags, bottles, or something else) and cooler. Also, price may be a consideration if you transport your breast milk often and need to have quite a few ice packs on hand to rotate in and out of the freezer.
Natasha Burgert, M.D., is a pediatrician in Overland Park, Kansas. She is a Philips Avent partner pediatrician, as well as a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She promotes child health and wellness on her Twitter account.
Michelle Ross, MHA, RD, LD, ALC, is a registered and licensed dietician and advanced lactation consultant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She graduated from the University of Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and completed her Masters in Healthcare Administration at Ohio University.
Lisa Stellwagen, M.D., FAAP, has been a pediatrician for over 35 years. She’s a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and is the Executive Director of the UC Health Milk Bank. Dr. Stellwagen is also a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and serves as the policy chair for the section on breastfeeding.
How To Choose The Best Ice Packs For Breast Milk
Size & Shape
When choosing an ice pack, you’ll want to carefully consider the size. Dr. Stellwagen recommends that you “make sure there is no air space in the cooler” when transporting breast milk — meaning you should choose an ice pack that takes up as much room as possible (after you put the breast milk containers in, that is), then fill the remaining space with “crushed paper or bubble wrap.” Some ice packs can even be cut to your desired size to make it easier to get a customized fit for your cooler.
Ice packs typically come in hard-sided and soft-sided designs. Hard-sided ice packs are typically made from plastic, and they’re available in a wide variety of shapes and thicknesses, so choose based on what works best for your storage situation. If you are transporting your breast milk in bottles, look for ice packs that are contoured to fit around them, allowing the most surface area to be in direct contact with the cold. Soft-sided ice packs are typically made from materials like nylon. These ice packs are quite flexible to easily wrap around a variety of breast milk storage containers, though some will need to be shaped into the correct position before being placed in the freezer since they’re not pliable once frozen. Finally, some cooler bags have built-in gel packs. All you have to do is place the entire bag in the freezer, and by morning it will be ready for you to use. One drawback to these is that they tend to take up more space in the freezer.
Water Vs. Gel Packs
Ice packs are typically filled with gel or water. Gel has a lower freezing point than water, so packs that feature gel will generally stay colder for longer periods of time. That being said, other factors such as size will impact how long any ice pack will take to melt. Plus, many water-filled ice packs also incorporate pellets or beads that might alter how long they stay cold.
Generally speaking, ice packs that stay cold longer also tend to take longer to initially freeze.
Shop The Best Ice Packs For Breast Milk
In a hurry? Here are the best ice packs for breast milk:
- A Fan-Favorite Set Of Hard-Sided, Slim Ice Packs: Fit & Fresh XL Cool Coolers (4-Pack)
- A Pair Of Contoured Ice Packs That Fit Around Bottles: GOGOSO Breastmilk Ice Packs (2-Pack)
- A Pair Of Flexible, Slim Ice Packs: Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers (2-Pack)
- These Wildly Popular Ice Packs That Can Stay Cold For 48 Hours: Cooler Shock Reusable Ice Packs (3-Pack)
- These Sheets Of Mini Ice Packs That Can Be Cut To Size: Nice Packs Dry Ice (10-Pack)
- A Breast Milk Cooler With Built-In Ice Packs: PackIt Freezable Breastmilk & Formula Cooler
Keep your precious breast milk cold with the help of these ice packs — parents on Amazon have given them the stamp of approval!
1. A Fan-Favorite Set Of Hard-Sided, Slim Ice Packs
- Have more than 15,000 Amazon reviews
- Ultra-slim design
- Not contoured or soft-sided
- Doesn’t stay cold as long as some other options
Popular on Amazon — boasting a solid 4.7-star rating overall, after 15,000-plus reviews — these ice packs from Fit & Fresh are an excellent choice for keeping breast milk cold. The hard-sided ice packs are made from BPA-free plastic, and they don’t need to be filled up before first use. Simply stick them in the freezer, and they’ll be frozen in as little as two hours thanks to their super slim design.
One reviewer wrote: “Exactly what I was looking for. I purchased these to keep my breast milk cold after pumping at work these work great!”
Made from: Plastic (hard-sided) | Size: 7 x 4.5 x 0.3 inches | Contoured: No | Filled with: Unspecified | Freezes in: 2 to 3 hours | Stays cold for: About 5 to 6 hours (according to reviewers)
2. A Pair Of Contoured Ice Packs Designed To Fit Around Bottles
- Contoured to fit around bottles
- Available in a variety of sizes and colors
- You’ll have to fill them with water before first use
- Pricier than some other options
If you’re looking to transport your breast milk in bottles, you’ll be glad to have these ice packs on hand — the hard-sided plastic ice packs boast a contoured shape, increasing the total surface area that’s in contact with bottles and making sure the fit is snug. Before first use, fill these ice packs three quarters of the way full with water. After 20 minutes, they can be placed in the freezer, and they’ll be totally frozen solid in about 8 to 10 hours (pellets inside the product help aid the freezing). These ice packs are BPA-free, and they are available in other sizes and single packs, too, should that be of interest.
One small note: The Medela ice pack is another contoured option that’s popular among shoppers — but it is more expensive and comes in fewer size options, which is why I selected the GOGOSO set for this list instead, but that’s another good option.
One reviewer wrote: “These easily keep my milk cold all day (6:30a-5:00p) in the bottom of my cooler bag without needing to use the fridge at work. Very happy with them. The contour shape works great for storage bottles.”
Made from: Plastic (hard-sided) | Size: 8.2 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches | Contoured: Yes | Filled with: Water | Freezes in: 8 to 10 hours | Stays cold for: Up to 12 hours
3. A Pair Of Super-Flexible, Slim Ice Packs
- Flexible even when frozen
- Come in cute prints
- Doesn’t stay cool as long as others, according to reviewers
Even when frozen, these ice packs from Fit & Fresh stay flexible, allowing you to wrap them around any breast milk storage containers as needed. The nontoxic and BPA-free ice packs are made from nylon and filled with gel that freezes in as little as two hours. And the cute designs — like happy dogs, blue tie dye, or unicorn stripes — are just icing on the cake.
The only downside? Reviewers on Amazon have mixed feedback about the amount of time these ice packs stay cold. While one commented that they keep “food cool for about 2 hours in [a] lunch tote,” another reviewer reported, “One ice pack lasts in my lunch box for my entire 12 hour shift at work.” Either way, scroll on for an option for long-lasting cooling if that’s a priority.
One reviewer wrote: “Perfect ice packs for breast milk cooler bag. Doesn't take up a lot of space.”
Made from: Nylon (soft-sided) | Size: 4.8 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches | Contoured: No | Filled with: Gel | Freezes in: About 2 hours | Stays cold for: Varies
4. These Wildly Popular Ice Packs That Stay Cold For 48 Hours
- Keeps contents cold for up to 48 hours
- Have more than 20,500 reviews on Amazon
- Large size might not fit in some coolers
- Can take up to 24 hours to freeze
It’s no wonder that these ice packs from Cooler Shock are so overwhelmingly popular on Amazon — they literally become colder than ice (just 18 degrees Fahrenheit) to keep the contents in a cooler chilly for up to 48 hours. Before first use, add water to the ice pack (utilize the included funnel to make it easier to do so) and screw on the cap. Then, shake to mix the water with the powder that’s inside — it’ll transform into a gel. Stick the ice pack into the freezer, and in about 24 hours it’ll be ready to use and reuse.
This set comes with three cooler-sized ice packs, but larger and smaller (so-called lunch-box sized) options are available — just know that the freeze and cooling time varies depending on the ice pack size. While these soft-sided ice packs are flexible prior to freezing, once cold, they won’t be pliable.
One reviewer wrote: “I bought these to bring frozen breast milk to and from Florida. I was shocked that they kept the milk completely frozen so I could put the milk back in the freezer when I arrived. They were in the cooler for about 8 hours. Buy these if you are a traveling pumping mom!”
Made from: Plastic and nylon (soft-sided) | Size: 14 x 10 x 1.5 inches | Contoured: No | Filled with: Water that becomes gel | Freezes in: 24 hours | Stays cold for: Up to 48 hours
5. These Sheets Of Mini Ice Packs That Can Be Cut To Size
- Can be cut to the size you need
- Can stay cool for an entire day
- Have to soak the ice packs with water to use
- Must freeze for 12 hours before use
These ice packs from Nice Packs have a ton of helpful features. For one, they come in a unique sheet form with individual ice pack cells, so you can trim them to the exact size that you need. And even when frozen the ice packs are super flexible — wrap them around any breast milk storage container that you have on hand!
The downside is that there’s some upfront work required to utilize them. To expand the ice pack cells, you’ll need to soak them in water (the gel inside will absorb it) — thin ice packs can be achieved by soaking for 30 to 60 seconds, while fuller ice packs can be made by soaking for 2 to 3 minutes. Once complete, wipe the ice packs dry and place them in the freezer overnight. Choose from a variety of sizes and sets based on your needs — all options are nontoxic.
One thing to note: Despite this product’s name, these ice packs aren’t made from actual dry ice — they’re simply designed to sweat less than the average ice pack.
One reviewer wrote: “I use these to keep my pumped breast milk cold while at work. I needed ice packs that last at least 14 hours. These do the trick!!!”
Made from: Plastic (soft-sided) | Size: Each sheet is 8.5 x 8 inches (length x width) | Contoured: No | Filled with: Gel beads that absorb water | Freezes in: 12 hours | Stays cold for: Up to 24 hours
6. A Breast Milk Cooler With Built-In Ice Packs
- Built-in design
- Collapsible for easy storage
- Has a slot for a name tag on the front
- Takes up a more space in the freezer
- Must be hand washed
If you don’t feel like messing with a separate cooler and ice pack to transport your precious liquid gold, you’ll love this option from PackIt. The soft-sided cooler actually has gel packs built directly into the walls for your ease. To get it cold, simply place the entire unit in the freezer for about 12 hours. After that, pop up the cooler to expand it (including the center divider), and it’s ready to go! Features of this pick include a secure zippered closure and a clear front pocket that allows you to add your personal information to identify your bag in an office or daycare fridge.
This cooler is designed to hold four 5-ounce bottles, though many Amazon reviewers commented that it works well for breast milk storage bags, too.
One reviewer wrote: “We were traveling for the first time with my little one and we were going to leave her with her grandparents overnight so I had to pack my breastmilk. I packed 8 bags of milk for a total of 32oz of precious liquid gold. It was already frozen and I had to keep it that way. The pack it did the job. From home to the airport, to the cargo hold (I checked it in my suitcase), to the airport, and to our destination was about 7 hours.”
Made from: Unspecified | Size: 6.5 x 8 x 5.5 inches (length x width x height) | Contoured: No | Filled with: Gel | Freezes in: 12 hours | Stays cold for: All day, according to reviewers
How Long Can An Ice Pack Keep Breast Milk Cool?
When traveling, the purpose of an ice pack is to keep your breast milk cold so it’s safe for your little one to consume. Ross explains, “Once human milk has been refrigerated, it should stay cold until it is ready to be used to prevent growth of bacteria.” But exactly how cold does the milk need to be? Dr. Burgert notes that expressed breast milk can be stored in a cooler with ice packs for up to 24 hours when at “40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, or refrigerator temp.”
While that information is very helpful to know, let’s be honest — short of carrying around a thermometer, it is nearly impossible to know the exact temperature of your breast milk. Luckily, Dr. Burgert has a way that parents can get a better idea of whether or not their breast milk is still usable. “The expressed milk should feel cold to the touch when it’s pulled out of the cooler. If the milk has reached room temp or warmer while in the cooler, it's likely not usable.”
Lisa Stellwagen, M.D., FAAP, pediatrician, professor at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Executive Director of the UC Health Milk Bank, and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Michelle Ross, MHA, RD, LD, ALC, registered and licensed dietician and advanced lactation consultant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Natasha Burgert, M.D., pediatrician, Philips Avent partner pediatrician, and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics