A great freezer stash of breast milk is a beauty to behold, but finding room for all that liquid gold can be a total pain if you don't know any hacks to maximize your freezer space for breast milk storage. And, let's be honest, getting rid of the ice cream is not an option.
Unless you're starring in your own episode of MTV's Cribs, you probably have a pretty standard fridge and freezer combo. Whether your freezer is up top with its own door, a separate drawer at the bottom, or a side-by-side combo, those things don't necessarily have a lot of room. But according to Mayo Clinic, frozen breast milk can hang out in a freezer from six to 12 months without an issue. So optimizing that space? Totally necessary if you want a breast milk freezer stash you can be proud of.
Depending on what's already in your freezer, you may have to get a little creative, but it can be done. Just remember, for every bag you take out to feed your baby, you have to replace it with a pumping session to keep your supply up and your freezer full, noted Exclusive Pumping. Whether you're storing it to save for later feedings or planning on donating your milk, these seven hacks can save you some space (and a headache) as you're building up your freezer stash. With these tips, you'll be able to handle that and still have room for the Costco-sized box of burritos you just bought.
1. Use Plastic Bins
Storing your breast milk in storage bags saves you space anyway, but storing those bags in plastic bins can make it even easier. Breastfeeding USA recommended a gift bag or even a shoe box to hold your frozen breast milk, but you can also use smaller plastic tubs like The First Years Breastflow Milk Storage Organizer ($10). This will keep you organized and stop you from losing bags to the black hole that is a freezer.
2. Lay Them Flat To Freeze
Only the Breast suggested laying your milk flat for the first day of freezing so that they are thinner and easier to store, especially if you're planning on storing a lot of milk.
3. But Then Store Them Upright
Once your milk's frozen flat, however, Only the Breast noted that you should stack the milk upright so that you can make use of the space you have, especially if you're storing in another container for easy access.
4. Store In Larger Ziploc Bags Or Bins By Date
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Teresa Stackhouse wrote for Lowcountry Child that storing your breast milk storage bags in a larger Ziploc bag or bin may be the answer to less waste and more room. By grouping them together by date, like all of the milk stored for a month (or week, depending on how much you pump), you can not only rotate them so you use the oldest milk first, but they are easy to push to the side or move out of the way if you need the freezer space.
5. Store Milk In Ice Cube Trays
Ice cube trays are easy to stack, which means they can also be a great way to store breast milk. Hint Mama suggested using ice cube trays to hold your breast milk as they don't take up much room and each cube in a tray holds about 1 ounce of milk, making it easy to measure out what you need and store. There are even ice cube trays specifically made for breast milk like Milkies Milk Tray ($20).
6. Store Milk By Date
Breastfeeding USA recommended storing your milk by date so that you don't keep any milk past its prime and you can stay organized in the freezer. Also, by grouping the milk by date, you know there's not any hiding out in the corners of the freezer or behind the frozen peas.
7. Move Milk Into A Deep Freezer After 3 Months
Whether you're pumping three times a week or three times a day for your freezer stash, you're going to have quite the collection within three months. If you want a huge amount of frozen breast milk, it might be time to invest in a deep freezer and move three months of milk in there before it goes bad. Remember, Mayo Clinic noted that frozen breast milk is good for six to 12 months, so it might be time to start using it if you've moved two groups into a deep freezer like the Danby Chest Freezer ($200).