Do you want to wean from the pump and feed your baby frozen breast milk until her first birthday? Here’s how to create a breast milk freezer stash calculator, so you know exactly how much milk you need to have stored before you wean, and when you can stop pumping.
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Some exclusive pumpers that have an oversupply build up a large stash of frozen breast milk. Then, once they have enough stored, they wean from the pump weeks or months before their child turns one, and continue to feed their baby frozen breast milk until his or her first birthday.
You can calculate how much frozen milk you will need to do this based on your baby’s intake and how old your baby is.
How to Calculate How Much Milk You Need to Wean
When you’re estimating how much milk you need to have in the freezer before you start to wean, the first thing you should do is determine about how much milk your baby will need per day.
In most cases, outside of the occasional growth spurt, a baby’s intake will increase over the first month, and then stay the same until they start solids.
After your baby starts solids, her intake may decrease – but it might go down more slowly than you’d think. For example, my first baby struggled a bit with solids at the beginning and drank the same amount of milk until he turned one. This article has a chart showing how daily intake may trend over time.
Therefore, if your baby is over one month old, to estimate how much milk you need, determine her current daily needs, and multiply it by the number of days until she turns one year old.
Additionally, you may want to build in a bit of a buffer for growth spurts and for milk that needs to be discarded because of an unfinished bottle, etc.
Breast Milk Freezer Stash Calculator Example
To estimate how much milk you’ll need:
- Record your baby’s intake for a few days (either using a spreadsheet or an app) to find out how much breastmilk she’s drinking now. If she drank different amounts on those days, use the highest number. Example: On day 1, she drank 24 oz (710 ml), on day 2, she drank 25 oz (750 ml), on day 3, she drank 24 oz. You would set her daily intake at 25 oz (750 ml) per day.
- If you’d like to, add 1-2 oz (30-60 ml) to that number as a buffer. Example: You decide to add 2 oz to the 25 oz per day you think she’ll need, so you will want to have 27 oz (800 ml) of breast milk stored per day.
- Calculate the number of days from when you’d like to wean until her first birthday. Example: Say you’d like to wean by January 1st, and she turns one on January 31st. You would need 31 days of breast milk stored.
Then you just multiply the number of ounces times the number of days.
In this example, we need 27 oz * 31 days, or 837 oz (24.8 L) of frozen breastmilk by January 1st.
How to Keep Track of Your Stash
The easiest way to keep track of your frozen breast milk stash is using an app. Lots of moms in our Facebook group like to use Pump Log, because it will perform all of the above calculations for you. Other breast milk freezer stash apps include Milk Maid or Milk Stash.
Another option is to use a spreadsheet. I put together a basic sample spreadsheet that you can use to track each bag of milk and compare the total you need versus what you have stored.
You can also put a whiteboard on the outside of the freezer and update the number of ounces stored in it every time you add breast milk.
Where to Store Your Breastmilk
In most cases (unless you’re doing this for a short period of time), you will need a deep freezer like this one to hold your breast milk:
Storing milk in a deep freezer also extends the length of time that you can keep the milk in the freezer. (Breastmilk can be stored in a deep freezer longer – for 6-12 months – because the door is not opened as frequently as a regular freezer.)
Additional Tips and Things to Consider
Here are a few additional tips:
- Before you build a big freezer stash, you should test out giving some frozen milk to your baby to ensure she will take it. Some women have excess lipase in their breastmilk, which can make the milk taste bad. If this is the case, you can scald it before you freeze it, but after you freeze it, it may be more difficult to get your baby to take it.
- I would suggest not starting to wean until you are very close to or are already at your goal of stored breast milk. Weaning can be unpredictable, and your supply might drop more quickly than you expect. You’ll want to make sure that you’ll still have enough if that happens. (More on deciding to stop pumping here.)
- If you live in an area prone to power outages, consider getting a backup generator. The worst case scenario is that your power goes out for an extended period of time, and you lose your entire freezer stash.
- Traveling with and feeding frozen breast milk can be a challenge, especially if you’re staying in a hotel without ready access to a freezer. Consider whether you’ll have any situations like this in the period after you wean and before your baby’s first birthday. You may be able to make it work, but it might also be easier to formula feed during the trip.
- Another thing to consider is whether or not you might need to move your freezer stash. This can be challenging but is doable – more info here.
- Consider testing out formula to find one your baby will take, in case you need to use it due to something like a power outage or trip. It can be very stressful to not have breast milk and then find out your baby won’t take the formula you bought.
Are you planning to wean and feed frozen breast milk until baby turns one? Tell us how you’re doing it in the comments!