If I Give My Newborn Baby a Bottle, Will She Refuse the Breast?

The short answer is “we don’t know”.  There is so much information out there about nipple confusion.  Some will tell you that if anything other than a breast *touches* your baby’s mouth, he’ll never want to breastfeed again. Others will regale you with stories about how their exclusively breastfed baby had bottles! cups! pacifiers! in the first few hours of life and had no problem switching back to breast.  Each baby and situation is different.  It’s never a given that your baby will, or will not, develop nipple confusion if he/she has a bottle before breastfeeding has been successfully established.

How Long Does My Breast Milk Stay Fresh?

Breast milk storage guidelines can be incredibly complicated to decipher.  With each pump company and breastfeeding website having its own storage and handling recommendations, how's a mother to know which one to follow?  Plus, throw in whether the baby is full-term, pre-term, healthy, or in the NICU, and we have quite a confusing situation.

After delving into our lactation consultant guidelines for human milk storage, I think I have the definitive list for you….at least for this year!


How long does my breast milk stay fresh?

Here are the recommendations, for a healthy infant, according to the Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 2012:

Room Temperature 72 º:   6 -10 hrs.

Refrigerator:  5-7 days

Insulated cooler with ice pack: < 24 hrs.

Completely thawed in the refrigerator: < 24 hrs.

Freezer compartment in 1-door refrigerator: 2 weeks

Freezer door in 2-door refrigerator (not in door): 3-6 months

Deep freezer: 6-12 months

Here are the recommendations for a hospitalized infant, according to the Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 2012:

Room Temperature 72 º: < 4 hrs.

Refrigerator:  up to 7 days

Insulated cooler with ice pack: < 24 hrs.

Completely thawed in the refrigerator: < 24 hrs.

Previously frozen, brought to room temperature: <4 hrs.

Freezer compartment in 1-door refrigerator: not recommended

Freezer door in 2-door refrigerator (not in door): < 3 months

Deep freezer: < 6 months


How should I store my breast milk?

  • Glass or plastic baby bottles
  • Clean food storage containers with tight-fitting lids
  • Disposable feeding bottle liners and mother’s milk bags

How do I warm my stored breast milk?

  • Never use the microwave to warm up breast milk.  Not only does the milk heat unevenly in the microwave (which could cause unintentional burning), but it decreases the anti-infective quality of the milk and reduces its overall health properties (ABM Protocol #8)
  • Defrost frozen breast milk in either the refrigerator overnight, by running under warm water, or setting it in a container of warm water. (ABM Protocol #8)
  • There have been no studies done to provide recommendations for how long milk can be kept at room temperature after a baby has partially fed from the cup or bottle.  The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends using the milk within 1-2 hrs after baby finished feeding.  (ABM Protocol #8)  Many lactation consultants and pediatricians recommend using the rest of the milk at the next feeding sessions and then throwing any leftovers away.

Do I need to sterilize my bottles and nipples?


  • Bottles, nipples, and pump pieces need to be sterilized before you first use them.
  • Once a bottle, nipple, or pump piece has been used, sterilizing is unnecessary.  Instead wash everything in hot, soapy water and then rinse, or throw them in the dishwasher.

Less complicated, right?  

I hope that I was able to clarify a few of those difficult-to-figure-out questions you had. 

Now go.... breastfeed, pump, and give that delicious goodness to your child!  And, definitely check back in a few years to see if anything has changed!

Battling and Resolving Excess Lipase in Breastmilk

While it is unknown how common it is for a mother to have excess lipase in her breast milk, causing it to smell or taste soapy, I come across it often enough that I thought it would be helpful to share how to deal with it, from a mom's perspective.    Christina Williams was gracious enough to write this article, walking us through her journey battling and resolving her issue with excess lipase and her baby who refused to take a bottle, even when she went back to work.  Thank you so much, Christina, for sharing your knowledge and determination!


In preparation to be a first-time mom, I’d been tearing through books and following countless blogs for months prior to my daughter’s arrival. I was sure I had everything in order and was ready for anything motherhood had to throw at me. I could distinguish common rashes from those that are more worrisome, had memorized the slide deck of normal infant poop, and had figured out the optimal wash routine for my growing collection of cloth diapers. Was I prepared to do the seemingly simple task of giving my new baby a bottle after we established our breastfeeding relationship? The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind.