Exclusively pumping can result in numerous baby bottles that need to be stored, tracked, and washed. To simplify the daily pumping and feeding routine, many parents use the “pitcher method” – storing breast milk in a pitcher. This method not only saves space in the refrigerator but also helps streamline the process. In this article, we will explore the benefits and considerations of the pitcher method and provide helpful tips for storing breast milk.
What is the pitcher method?
The pitcher method involves collecting all the pumped milk for one day and storing it in a large container, such as a pitcher. At the end of the day or when the container is full, the next day’s feeding bottles are prepared using the collected milk. Any remaining milk can be transferred to breast milk storage bags and frozen for future use.
Pros and cons to storing breast milk in a pitcher
The pitcher method offers several advantages for parents who choose to use it. It simplifies feeding and breast milk storage, ensuring a more systematic approach. With the pitcher method, there is no need to worry about expiration dates or finding old bottles hidden at the back of the fridge. Additionally, using a pitcher instead of individual bottles can save space in the refrigerator. It also helps ensure that any extra breast milk is frozen promptly when not needed. Some individuals with foremilk/hindmilk imbalance find that it helps maintain a more balanced milk supply for their baby.
However, there are also some considerations to keep in mind. Accidentally dropping or breaking the container could result in the loss of all the stored breast milk. Additionally, the size of the pitcher may pose challenges when it comes to sterilization, especially for those without dishwashers.
Selecting the right container for the pitcher method
When choosing a container for the pitcher method, there are several factors to consider. The container should have a capacity of 28-64 ounces, allowing it to hold more than the daily pumping volume. An easy pour spout is essential to prevent milk loss when transferring it to bottles. The container should have a lid to protect the milk while stored in the refrigerator. It is recommended to use containers made from glass or food-grade plastic.
Here are some container options that have received positive feedback from moms in our Facebook group:
1. Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher
Dr. Brown’s Pitcher is a popular choice for storing breast milk. It holds 32 ounces of milk and includes a blade for mixing.
2. Rubbermaid MixerMate
The MixerMate is a 32-ounce container designed for storing breast milk. It has a secure top with a convenient pour spout.
3. Mason Jar
Using a mason jar has the added benefit of reducing fat residue sticking to the sides. Airtight seal tops with easy pour spouts are available for mason jars.
4. Shaker Blender Bottles
This shaker bottle by Blender Bottle holds 28 ounces and can be used for storing breast milk.
Tips for storing breast milk in a pitcher
To ensure the safety and quality of stored breast milk when using the pitcher method, here are some helpful tips:
Cool milk before combining
Before combining milk from multiple pumping sessions, it is essential to ensure that the milk is at the same temperature. Cool freshly pumped milk first to avoid mixing cold and warm milk together. Placing freshly pumped milk in the fridge and adding it to the pitcher after your next pumping session, a few hours later, is a suggested approach.
Label the container with the first expressed milk
If the pitcher contains milk from more than one day, it is crucial to label the container with the date of the oldest milk. All of the milk in the pitcher should be treated as if it were pumped on the first day. Breast milk can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Mix the milk thoroughly
To ensure the fat is evenly distributed, swirl the container to incorporate the milk. Using a silicone spatula, scrape off any fat residue stuck to the sides of the container.
Sterilize the container
Similar to bottles and pump parts, the pitcher should be washed according to CDC guidelines and regularly sterilized. Dishwashers can be an easy and effective way to sterilize the container. Alternatively, Medela Quick Clean Sanitizer Spray could be considered.
Have you tried storing breast milk in a pitcher? Share your experience in the comments below!