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Breastmilk is Liquid Gold: Minimizing Waste in Daycare


Bag with wipes and baby bottles with milk

Whoever said “don’t cry over spilled milk” clearly wasn’t talking about breastmilk. If you know, you know, you know. Moms cry over spilled milk all the time, for good reason. It takes a lot of time and effort to express milk, and our babies are depending on our milk. It’s not about the spill, it’s about the waste of liquid gold. Real talk right away - I used to get upset about the amount of breastmilk that my babies would spit up, because of the waste. I am not proud, but I know that I am not alone in that. Like many, I initially struggled with breastfeeding, and, even once we found our rhythm, I fought for every ounce that produced. Naturally, I became protective of my stash, my supply and considered all possible ways to safely minimize waste of my gold.


Daycare centers have rules and regulations in place that support the safe transportation, storage, thawing and heating of breastmilk that reflect local childcare licensing regulations. These guidelines are in place to keep infants safe, and yet can feel like major waste.


In our last blog post, we shared considerations to take that support breastfeeding when selecting childcare. In this post, I will share how to protect your stash and your supply and minimize waste of your liquid gold, regardless of of the specific policies and procedures of your childcare provider.


Minimizing Waste:


  1. Breastfeed Before: Breastfeed before you drop your baby off, then decide how much breastmilk to leave. If you leave your baby with a full belly, you may end up not needing to use (as much of) the breastmilk that you planned to. This doesn’t always work out with timing, but be sure to select a breastfeeding friendly center that will welcome you at any time.

  2. Use the First-In, First-Out (FIFO) Method: Label your breastmilk containers with the date you expressed the milk and arrange them in the refrigerator or freezer so that the oldest milk is used first. This ensures that none of your breastmilk goes bad before it's used.

  3. Store in Small Portions: Instead of storing large quantities of breastmilk in one container, store it in smaller portions. This way, you can thaw only what your baby needs for one feeding, reducing the risk of leftover milk going to waste.

  4. Invest in Proper Storage Containers: Use breastmilk storage bags or containers specifically designed for breastmilk. These are designed to minimize the risk of leaks and are easy to label with date and quantity.

  5. Thaw in Advance: Plan ahead and thaw frozen breastmilk in the refrigerator the night before daycare. This allows it to thaw slowly and safely.

  6. Communicate with Daycare: Keep an open line of communication with your daycare provider. Let them know your baby's feeding patterns and preferences so they can adjust accordingly and not waste milk.

  7. Label Clearly: Clearly label each container with your baby's name, date, and the quantity of milk. This helps ensure that there's no mix-up with other babies' milk and that the oldest milk gets used first.

  8. Keep an Eye on Expiration: Be aware of the expiration guidelines for breastmilk. Following recommended storage guidelines (CDC) can maintain the safety and quality of expressed breast milk for the baby’s health.

  9. Ensure Caregivers are Trained: Ensure that daycare staff are trained in handling breastmilk properly, including how to thaw, warm, and feed it to your baby without wasting any.


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