As a new mom trying to navigate breastfeeding and pumping, figuring out how many reusable breastmilk storage bags you need can be tricky. There are a few factors to consider when determining the right number of bags for your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through how many bags you should have on hand, tips for building your stash, and other key information to help you store your breastmilk effectively.
How many bags for daily use
First, let’s look at how many reusable breastmilk storage bags you need for day-to-day use. As a general rule of thumb, plan to have 6-8 bags per day that you pump. So if you pump twice a day, you would need 12-16 bags. If you pump 3 times per day, plan for 18-24 bags.
This number allows you to have enough clean bags ready to go each time you pump. It also gives you extra bags in case you need to pump an extra session or have an abundant pumping session and need more storage. Having a few extra bags on hand also allows you to rotate bags out if one gets worn out or damaged.
Key factors that impact daily bag needs:
- How often you pump per day
- How much milk you typically pump per session
- If you pump at work/need extra bags for transport and storage
- Your lifestyle and pumping habits
- If you exclusively pump or supplement with formula
Moms who exclusively pump will generally need more bags than those who nurse and pump occasionally. Think through your own routine and needs to determine the right daily amount of bags for your pumping schedule.
How many bags for building a freezer stash
In addition to the bags you need for daily use, you’ll also want extra bags to build up a freezer stash of breastmilk. Having a surplus of milk stored can provide peace of mind and ensure you have a backup supply if needed.
For building a freezer stash, plan to have an extra 20-40 bags on hand. This allows you to build up at least a 2 week extra supply, if not more. Of course, the ideal freezer stash amount will vary based on your own goals.
Tips for building a freezer stash:
- Try to pump after or between nursing sessions to collect extra milk
- Aim to pump at least once per day solely to collect milk for your freezer stash
- Take advantage of times when your breasts feel very full to pump and store milk
- Pump extra minutes after regular sessions to get more for your stash
Putting just a few extra pumping sessions per week toward your freezer stash can help you build up a great supply for the future.
How many total bags you need
Putting together the numbers for daily use and your desired freezer stash amount will give you a total of how many reusable breastmilk bags you need. As an example:
12 bags per day for daily use
+ 25 bags for building a freezer stash
= 37 total bags needed
This is just a sample – your real numbers may vary significantly. The key is to think through both your daily and long term needs. It’s always better to have a few extra bags than to realize you don’t have enough storage when you need it.
Factors that impact total bags needed
There are a few key factors that can influence the total number of reusable breastmilk storage bags you require:
How long you plan to pump
If you plan to pump for 6 months, you’ll need more bags than someone pumping for 3 months. Think about your pumping and breastfeeding goals when estimating totals.
Using bags long-term
Reusable breastmilk bags can often be used for multiple children. If you want to save and reuse your stash, you may be able to get away with fewer total bags.
If you tend to wash your bags after every use, you’ll need more bags than someone who accumulates a larger stash before washing.
It’s smart to have extras beyond the core amounts in case bags get damaged, you lose bags, or you go through them faster than expected.
Pumping bag tips
Here are a few quick tips for using your reusable breastmilk storage bags effectively:
- Label each bag clearly with the date and quantity.
- Lay flat in the freezer to prevent spills.
- Store 2-5 ounces per bag for ideal freezing.
- Don’t overfill bags as milk can expand during freezing.
- Use oldest frozen milk first to rotate your stash.
Recommended breastmilk bag brands
When selecting your reusable breastmilk bags, opt for quality bags designed specifically for pumping and breastmilk storage. Here are some top-rated options:
Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags
Lansinoh bags stand up well to repeated use with a durable, thick construction. They feature a double zipper seal and reinforced side seams for leakproof storage. The wide opening makes pumping directly into the bags easy.
Medela Pump and Save Bags
Medela Pump and Save bags integrate seamlessly with Medela pumps for easy pumping and storage. They have a sturdy design with a tamper-evident seal and built-in stand-up base.
Haakaa Breastmilk Storage Bags
Haakaa bags are made from food-grade, BPA-free materials. Their eco-friendly design is durable for reuse and features a double zipper with an airtight seal. They are compatibile with Haakaa pumps.
Reusable vs. disposable bags
Reusable breastmilk bags are a smart investment compared to single-use disposable bags. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each:
- More cost effective long-term
- Generate less waste
- Thicker and more durable
- Easy to label and organize
- Require washing between uses
- Higher upfront cost
- Take up more storage space
- No washing required
- Low upfront cost
- Take up less storage space
- More expensive over time
- Not as durable or leak-proof
- Generate plastic waste
- Harder to organize and label
For most moms, the pros of reusable bags make them the better choice. Just be sure to account for the washing and storage factors when determining your total quantity needed.
Storing extra bags
Once you have your supply of reusable breastmilk bags purchased, you’ll need to find space to store them. Here are some storage ideas:
- Breastmilk bag caddy or tote
- Space in your pump bag
- Designated bin or basket
- Drawer in your pump station or nursing area
- Hanging shoe organizer
Ideally, keep your breastmilk bags somewhere easily accessible from your pumping area. A caddy or tote you can carry from room to room works well for portability.
Washing and sanitizing bags
Don’t forget to factor in washing time and effort when calculating your breastmilk bag needs. Here are some washing tips:
- Rinse thoroughly after each use
- Wash in warm, soapy water or dishwasher
- Air dry fully before reusing
- Sanitize regularly by boiling, steaming, or soaking in a bleach solution
- Inspect for cracks or damage before reusing
- Replace bags as needed over time
Proper washing and sanitizing is key to keeping your breastmilk bags clean for multiple uses. Allow time for this process as you determine your quantity.
Best practices for breastmilk storage
To get the most out of your reusable breastmilk bags:
- Store 2-5 ounces per bag to maintain portion sizes.
- Lay bags flat in the freezer to prevent spills.
- Label bags clearly with dates and quantities.
- Use oldest milk first to rotate your stash.
- Don’t overfill bags as milk can expand when frozen.
Following safe storage guidelines will help you avoid waste and keep your breastmilk fresh. The FDA recommends using stored breastmilk within:
- 4 hours at room temperature
- 4 days in the refrigerator
- 12 months in a freezer
Always smell milk and inspect its consistency before feeding to check for spoilage.
Alternative breastmilk storage options
While reusable bags are convenient, you may want to also consider other breastmilk storage containers:
Reusable plastic bottles
Hard plastic bottles with tight sealing lids are great for storing larger quantities of milk. They take up more room but eliminate concerns about punctures or leaks.
Mason jars are a favorite reusable container for breastmilk. The glass jars allow you to easily see the milk quantity and are easy to sanitize.
Food grade silicone offers another reusable option for pumping and freezing. Silicone maintains the nutrients in breastmilk well.
Disposable milk storage
Disposable breastmilk freezer bags are an alternative if you prefer not to wash and reuse containers. However, they do generate more waste.
Ultimately reusable breastmilk bags offer the best combination of affordability, organization, and convenience for most moms.
Frequently asked questions
Let’s review some common questions about reusable breastmilk bags:
How long do reusable breastmilk bags last?
With proper care, most reusable bags last 3-6 months with regular use. Higher quality bags may last longer. Inspect for damage and replace individual bags as needed.
Can you pump directly into reusable breastmilk bags?
Yes, many reusable bags are designed to allow you to pump directly into the bag. Ensure it fits correctly with your breast pump flanges for mess-free pumping.
How do you thaw frozen breastmilk bags?
Thaw frozen breastmilk by placing the bag in the refrigerator overnight or under running cool water for a few minutes. Do not microwave bags or use hot water to thaw.
Are there BPA-free reusable breastmilk bag options?
Many major breastmilk bag brands now offer BPA-free reusable storage bags. Always check for BPA-free when choosing bags.
Can you use disposable liners in reusable bags?
Yes, some moms use disposable liners inside reusable shells to simplify washing. Just ensure the liners fit properly before use.
Determining how many reusable breastmilk storage bags you need takes some planning. Start by considering your daily pumping schedule and freezer stash goals. Most moms will need around 6-8 bags per day for regular use, plus extras for building a stash. Beyond your usage amounts, factor in washing frequency, long-term plans, and backup supply. Investing in a quality supply of reusable bags makes pumping, storage, and feeding much easier!