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How Long Can Breast Milk Last At Room Temperature? 

 January 14, 2022

When I became pregnant with my first child, I started researching all that I could find about breastfeeding. I learned how important it was to take proper care if I decided to pump and store my breast milk. While some people do not do this, I found that pumping my milk was great for when we wanted to go out somewhere or someone in the family wanted to feed the baby. I also felt it was essential to have some on hand in case of an emergency. For example, if I had to have any medical procedure done while I was breastfeeding, I would not be able to feed my baby until the medication was out of my system. Having some breast milk on hand helped to alleviate any fears I might have.

Even though breast milk can easily be stored in the refrigerator and freezer sometimes it happens that we leave it outside of the fridge and it is crucial to know how long can breast milk last at room temperature. Like any other milk, breast milk can spoil and become full of harmful bacteria if it is not safely stored. If a baby consumes spoiled milk, this can cause severe illness. 

Learning how long you can leave breast milk out is essential. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that freshly expressed or pumped breast milk is ok for about four hours at room temperature, which means 77°F (25°C) or colder. However, most people opt to use their breast milk for less than four hours to ensure safe milk. If the house is hot, the milk should be used as quickly as possible. Ideally, if someone is going to have milk sitting out in the room, they should have a small cooler where the milk can reside until it is used up during the 4 hours window. It will help to ensure that there is no bacteria growth in the milk. 

When learning how long breast milk lasts at room temperature, there is a difference between freshly pumped and already frozen milk. The four-hour rule only applies to newly pumped milk. If the milk has been thawed from being frozen, it should be used for one feeding right away. After that, if there is any left, it should be thrown out. A person should never refreeze thawed milk due to the risk of contamination.

Bacterial contamination is one risk of leaving breastmilk out at room temperature. Still, there are other issues with leaving breastmilk out too long. Ensuring that a person pays attention to how long breast milk can stay out of the fridge is essential.

The Risks Of Leaving Breast Milk Out For Too Long

1. Loss of Nutrients

When breast milk is produced, it is made with the highest nutrition content to aid in the baby’s growth. These nutrients will give the body much-needed vitamins and minerals. However, if it is left sitting out for too long, these nutrients may diminish. Therefore, someone feeding their baby with milk that has been left out too long could be depriving them of the nutrients they need to grow correctly.

2. Bad taste

Breast milk that has been sitting at room temperature for too long can have a sour taste. If a person gives the baby this milk, they could refuse to take it or even throw up. In some cases, lousy milk may cause the baby to refuse to retake a bottle because they think whatever comes out of the bottle will taste bad.

3. Pet contamination

If there are pets in the home, the milk could become contaminated if they were to see the bottle and begin to chew on the nipple, trying to get after the milk. It could cause pet hair to be on the bottle, bacteria on the bottle, or the bottle’s destruction.

How Long Can Breast Milk Last At Room Temperature: To Sum It Up

To ensure that breast milk lasts for a while at room temperature, it is imperative to clean appropriately the bottle where it is stored. Only sterilized containers should be used to transfer the milk. It will help ensure that the milk is 100 percent safe for the baby and that it stands up to being out at room temperature. In addition, writing down when the milk was pumped out and when the baby drank it will help to ensure that a person makes sure how long you can leave breast milk out for.

You may also be interested in reading the following articles:

How Long Is Frozen Breast Milk Good For In The Freezer?

How Long Can You Refrigerate Breast Milk?

Can You Combine Breast Milk From 2 Different Days?

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