Having an oversupply of breastmilk and no place to put it is truly a good problem to have! But is there a better way to manage your freezer stash? And what’s the best way to freeze breastmilk?
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When my son was about six months old, my husband came home from the grocery store and was putting the food away. When he opened the freezer door, he said, “Where am I supposed to put OUR food?? The entire freezer is full of the baby’s food!”
And he was right! I had stocked up the freezer with bags and bags of breastmilk. There was very little space left for essentials like Ben & Jerry’s and frozen pizza.
Plus, all of the breastmilk was extremely disorganized. Whenever I wanted to rotate out an older bag of milk, it took me forever to find the oldest bag to defrost.
Eventually, I learned the best ways to freeze your breast milk so that it’s organized and takes up as little space as possible. Here’s what you need to know!
How to Freeze Your Breastmilk So It Takes Up As Little Space As Possible
In most cases, if you want to conserve space, you’ll want to freeze your breastmilk in breastmilk storage bags. (Which kind should you use? Some factors to consider are whether you want to pump directly into the bags, the size of the bags, and cost. You can read reviews of some bags here.)
When you are transferring breastmilk from a bottle to a breastmilk freezer bag, use your flange as a funnel to avoid spills.
Before you put the breastmilk bag in the freezer, label it with the date, the quantity of breastmilk in the bag (in oz or ml), and the name of your child (if there is a chance the bag will be used in a childcare setting).
Some moms also write any illness or symptoms that baby is experiencing, with the thought that this breastmilk might be useful in the future when baby has the same symptoms.
When you put the breastmilk in the freezer, lay it flat to freeze. This is the most important thing that you can do to maximize the amount of milk that you can fit in your freezer, because you can stack it more compactly when it’s frozen flat.
Some moms lay their milk out on a cookie sheet to freeze. A takeout container or large Tupperware will also work.
How to Maximize Space in Your Freezer
Once you have your breastmilk frozen flat like a brick, how do you store the bags in your freezer to maximize your space?
One trick to fitting more breastmilk bricks into each container is to stack them up/down/up/down. Most breastmilk bags tend to have a bit more milk frozen in the bottom of the bag, so alternating which side is down allows you to fit more in.
What container should you stack your frozen breastmilk bricks in? Here are a few good options.
1. Many moms use gallon-sized zip-top plastic bags.
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2. Others reuse boxes.
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3. Large tupperware containers are another good option.
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What if You Run out of Room in Your Freezer?
If you still end up running out of room for ice cream in your freezer, like I did, you have a few options. One is to borrow freezer space in a family member or friend’s freezer, if you have anyone nearby who’s willing to lend you some space.
Finally, you can buy a deep freezer to store more milk. (This is what we ended up doing.)
Lots of moms in the Facebook group have found creative ways to make this work, even when living in a small apartment. Since they aren’t opened frequently, one way to find space is to make the freezer dual-purpose, such as using it as a nightstand or end table. Others fit their deep freezer in a closet.
Some good options include:
This medium-sized deep freezer is perfect for a smaller space and has 2.1 cubic feet of storage:
This larger deep freezer will work great in a home with the extra space for it:
How to Track How Much Breastmilk Is In Your Freezer
Lots of moms like to keep track of how much breastmilk they have stocked up. Here are some easy ways to track your freezer stash.
1. A Pumping App
Pumping apps like Milk Maid or Pump Log can track how much breastmilk you have frozen at any given time. The advantage of this method is that you can easily update your total whenever you add or remove milk, and it does all of the math for you.
Most apps that calculate total stash do cost a few dollars. You can read reviews of a few different options here.
A spreadsheet is another great option for tracking bags of breast milk, and it allows you total control over how you track it. Here is an example of how you can do this using Google Sheets.
You can put a magnetic whiteboard on the outside of your freezer and update the total number of ounces (or breastmilk bags, whichever you prefer to track) every time you add or remove milk.
4. Write on the Outside
Once you fill up a zip-top bag, box, or storage bin, write the total number of oz/ml on the outside so that you can do some quick math when you open up the freezer.
Here’s a free printable that you can use to label your milk containers! Just stick it inside the zip-top bag or tape it to the outside of your box/bin.
Hopefully these tips help you figure out the the best way to freeze your breastmilk! Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips, and don’t forget to download your free printable for labeling your milk!