Breastfeeding Fridge Hack: Is It Safe?
Are you breastfeeding or pumping mom struggling to manage your milk stash properly? Well, you may have heard about the incredible “fridge hack” – basically putting pump parts in the refrigerator instead of washing them with each use. However, is this really safe for your precious cargo? In this post, we will look at whether using this method can be considered harmless and give you some helpful advice regarding storing fresh breast milk for your little ones. Keep reading to find out more about deciding in the fridge hack is the right choice for you!
The Safety of The Fridge Hack
According to the CDC, the answer to whether using the fridge hack is safe is no. The CDC advises against storing pump parts in the refrigerator between pumping sessions and suggests pump parts be washed after each pumping session.
So what gives? Why do you keep seeing this hack on all your socials and hear about it from friends and colleagues who breastfed?
Many, many parents use the fridge hack as a way to make extending breastfeeding and pumping feasible for them. We have very little evidence of harm from this practice and in reality, this is the only way many parents are able to continue expressing milk when they return to work. For many parents, if it is a choice between using the hack and continuing to be able to pump or never using the hack and deciding to pump is too much of a hassle, they will choose the fridge hack.
What makes breast milk special?
According to Nancy Morbacher IBCLC and author of Breastfeeding Answers “The live cells in freshly expressed human milk kill bacteria, keeping milk fresh longer.” Two Spanish studies found that when milk is refrigerated its bacteria-killing properties stay active for the first few days but begin to decline at 72 hours.”
**Source: Martinez-Costa et al., 2007: Silvestre, Lopez, March, Plaza & Martinez -Costa. 2006)
Making a choice for your journey
There are a few benchmarks we want to make sure you are hitting before considering using the fridge hack. Is your baby healthy, strong, and not premature? The fridge hack should only be considered for babies with a normal immune system and not for babies in the NICU or who are otherwise immunocompromised. When a baby is premature or immunocompromised, they are more at risk of bacterial infections.
Tips on implementing the fridge hack
- Start with clean hands: anytime we are pumping this is the first step! We want clean hands before handling our pump parts.
- Do not rinse with water before storing. Rinsing with water actually increases the chance of contamination. Breast milk has immune components that reduce bacteria.
- Store in a closed container. Put your pump parts into a ziplock back or Tupperware to store in the fridge.
- Use the fridge hack for a limited time: no longer than 8-12 hours
- Keep the pump parts in the back of the fridge away from fluctuating temperatures.
- Follow proper washing instructions for pump parts
- Hot soapy water in a SEPARATE & DEDICATED wash basin in the sink
- Using a dedicated bottle brush only for pumps and bottles
- Dry completely before reassembly - wet pump parts can promote mold and bacterial growth
- Consider sterilization every few days
If the fridge hack isn’t the right fit for your family, consider purchasing multiple pump kits so you can rotate without having to clean every time.
Watch my tips on washing your pump and bottle parts.
Ultimately, whether or not to try out the fridge hack is a personal decision that should be made by looking critically at your own individual circumstances. While some moms discover this helpful for them, others feel more comfortable following strict CDC guidelines. The biggest question to consider is what will make you feel most comfortable.
Whatever you decide, don’t forget the importance of having access to expert education and guidance to help you navigate the many questions and challenges that can arise.
I designed my breastfeeding program boob school to give you all the education you need to meet your breastfeeding goals with confidence. I also know that breastfeeding comes with a lot of unknowns so we offer live support in our private Facebook community and weekly calls. I promise you it's not the “stuff” that makes your breastfeeding journey. It is having access to the RIGHT education and support to navigate every bump along the way.
Cheering you on, always!
Boob School Founder and CEO
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