How To Tell If Breast Milk Is Bad?

How To Tell If Breast Milk Is Bad?

Did you know there are different types of breast milk? It’s true! Depending on the stage of lactation, your body will produce different types of milk to meet your baby’s changing nutritional needs. Let’s take a look at the four stages of breast milk and discuss how they differ in composition. This post will make you understand how to tell if breast milk is bad or not.

How To Test For Bacteria In Stored Breast Milk 

The presence of bacteria in stored breast milk can cause it to spoil, so it's important that you test for bacteria before your baby consumes it. This is easy to do using a quality tester.

Simply mix a small amount of breast milk with water and then dip the tester into the mixture. If the indicator shows any sign of yellow, orange, or pink, this means that there are high levels of bacteria present and should not be used.

How To Tell If Breast Milk Is Bad

Check For Unusual Smell Or Texture

If you're unsure whether or not your breast milk has gone bad, then one of the quickest ways to check is by smelling it. If your milk smells sour or off, then don't use it! You may also want to observe the texture of the milk. If it has clumps, chunks, or looks particularly grainy, then there's a good chance that it has gone bad and should be thrown out. 

What To Do With Expired Breast Milk

If you have stored your breast milk for longer than 24 hours and you're unsure if it is still safe to use, then discard it! It's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your baby's safety. Breast milk that has expired should never be consumed by anyone, including adults or older children.

Read More: How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Without Being Held?

How To Tell If Breast Milk Is Bad

If you have not stored breast milk properly, it may cause issues. It is important to check the color, smell, and taste of your milk before feeding it to your baby.

Frozen Breast Milk - Frozen milk should look creamy white and may contain some yellow specks. The fat in the milk will start to separate if frozen for too long or not thawed correctly, so don’t use milk that looks separated or has a rancid odor.

Thawed Breast Milk - Thawed breast milk should look slightly opaque with no chunks in it. If it appears lumpy, grainy, or smells sour then discard it. You should also discard any thawed breastmilk that has been out of refrigeration for more than an hour.

Freshly Expressed Breast Milk - Freshly expressed breast milk should look creamy white and have a sweet smell. If it looks yellow, smells sour, or tastes bitter then discard it. Additionally, avoid using any breastmilk that is more than five days old as bacteria can begin to form in older milk.

Storing Breast Milk - Proper milk storage is essential to ensure that it remains safe and nutritious for your baby. Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.

Expressed Breast Milk - When storing expressed milk, use BPA-free plastic containers or glass bottles with tight-fitting lids. Breastmilk can be stored in 2 oz., 4 oz., and 6 oz. portions to make it easier to feed.

Pumped Breast Milk - Pumped milk should be stored in containers labeled with the date as freshly expressed milk. Breastmilk that is not used within 72 hours of pumping should be discarded.

Scalding Breast Milk - Scalding breast milk is a process that helps kill any bacteria in the milk. To scald breast milk, heat it to about 155°F for 15-20 seconds, then cool it quickly by running cold water over the container or placing it in an ice bath.

Read More: When Do Babies Stop Drooling?

How To Tell If Breast Milk Is Bad

How To Store Breast Milk?

Storing breast milk for breastfeeding infants can feel overwhelming for many new parents. It is important to understand the right steps to ensure expired breast milk or if breast milk has gone bad is not given to the infant.

  • Firstly, only store breastmilk in clean containers at room temperature and avoid direct sunlight exposure. 
  • Secondly, once expressed Milk can be stored in airtight containers at -20°C in a freezer for up to 6 months, using shallow trays. It should also be labeled accordingly with the date of expression clearly visible.
  • Lastly, always discard expired breast milk or if any signs are present that the milk has gone bad such as an unpleasant smell or taste, off-color discoloration, or sudden foaminess. 

Following these precautions when storing breastmilk will ensure your baby receives quality nutrition without any potential dangers.

Read More: Where To Put A Baby Monitor?

Pro Tips To Store Breast Milk For Longer Period

  1. Choose the right container: Use BPA-free containers, like glass bottles with tight-fitting lids, to store breast milk and avoid any chance of contamination. 
  1. Proper label: Label each container with the date expressed and keep track of storage times so that you know when it will expire.
  1. Freeze in portions: To make it easier to feed your baby, freeze milk in small 2 oz., 4 oz., or 6 oz. portions for thawing later on. 
  1. Store at proper temperature: Refrigerate freshly pumped milk for up to four days, or freeze for three months if stored correctly at -20°C or colder. 
  1. Avoid contact with air: To prevent bacteria from forming, make sure to leave a little bit of space at the top of each container when filling it with breast milk. 
  1. Avoid re-freezing: Breastmilk that has been thawed should not be re-frozen and used later on. 
  1. Discard expired breast milk: Throw away any breastmilk that is older than five days or looks off in color, smell, or texture.

How To Tell If Breast Milk Is Bad


Knowing how to tell if breast milk is bad is essential for ensuring your baby receives only safe and nutritious milk. Always store it properly, check for signs of spoilage, and discard any expired or off-smelling milk. Additionally, follow the tips above to ensure a healthy breastfeeding experience for both you and your little one.

Back to blog