One of the many expenses associated with having a baby that no one tells you about: The cost of special freezer bags designed for storing pumped breast milk.
At the time, I was so sleep deprived and overwhelmed that searching for more frugal freezer-storage options didn’t even cross my mind. I just went with the easy option: Click and buy, and worry about money later.
But now that the fog has lifted, I can’t believe how expensive those bags were. So though I’m done breastfeeding and pumping this time around, I decided to find out if there is a cheaper approach for safely freezing the liquid gold. Today’s hint, which hopefully will help other moms still trying to build up their breast milk stash, is the frugal strategy I learned.
The trick: Freeze the breast milk in ice cube trays. Then, when the milk is frozen, pop the cubes out and transfer them into a regular freezer bag. “This is my favorite way of storing milk,” says Charity Pitcher-Cooper, a lactation consultant and nurse at my pediatrician’s office.
She recommends storing cubes from specific pumping dates in regular storage freezer bags dated with the pumping information. Then, she says to put each of those smaller bags into a giant freezer bag, creating a double-layer of freezer protection.
To be sure, I’m not the first one to suggest this trick. Blogger Mannlymama shared it as her newborn tip of the week a while back, and moms over at What to Expect, Mamapedia, Baby Center, Frugal Village and elsewhere have discussed it.
It’s also not without its downsides. As one mom noted, while the trick “can save you money. . . it is a bit of a process compared to using the milk storage bags.” She found that it takes a while to pop out all the cubes and moving the cubes around can be messy. In addition, if you like to pump right into your breast milk storage bags and then pop the bags into the freezer (a trick for cutting down the equipment involved in pumping at work), then ice cube tray storage probably isn’t for you.
Still, for those who want to build up a big stash for less, this strategy may be worth considering.
Now, you may be wondering: What about the chemicals that might be lurking in regular freezer bags and the milk contamination that could result from this approach?
Using regular freezer bags for breast milk storage is a tip that can be found on the very helpful Kelly Mom breastfeeding advice site. Meanwhile, Ms. Pitcher-Cooper says that regular freezer bags are clean, and fine for full-term healthy newborns.
If you plan to try out the ice cube tray storage strategy, Ms. Pitcher-Cooper recommends remembering to store the trays and bags in the coldest part of the freezer (i.e. not on the door), and to make sure the bags aren’t near any sharp corners that could puncture them.
In addition, she says, try not to have a lot of extra air in the bags (seal the bags three-fourth of the way, push the rest of the air out with your hands, and then close the bags, she says).
And if you want to get fancy with your breast milk cube tray, it turns out that there are ice cube trays on the market specially designed for storing breast milk. Sensible Lines, for instance, offers one as does Fresh Baby.
Finally, there are bonuses of this freezing approach beyond saved money. It makes figuring out how much milk to thaw easier: One ice cube is about equal to an ounce, says Ms. Pitcher-Cooper. In other words, as Parent Hacks has pointed out, such “boob cubes” are a “breast milk conservation trick.” In addition, the cubes also can provide teething relief, as the Rookie Moms have noted.
What your tips for frugally freezing breast milk, and pumping and breastfeeding in general?