Keeping track of breast milk and formula expiration dates is a total pain in the tush. We know it and if you’ve fed a newborn baby anytime recently, you know it too. So much time, energy, and emotion goes into pumping everyday. Over-producers have a whole lot of supply and need to be sure it doesn't expire. Under-producers have a limited amount and have to make sure that not a single drop goes to waste. For formula-feeders, expired formula can be expensive! And anything past its best-by date is just as risky to feed your baby.
At Veba, keeping breastmilk and formula fresh is kind of our whole thing! That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide filled with our top tracking tips for keeping your breast milk and formula expiration dates from passing you by unnoticed. If you’re a mom or dad who is totally sick of sticky notes and spreadsheets, you’re going to want to stick around for this!
Tip #1: Always, Always Date
For breastfeeding mamas, after you have pumped it, if you don’t plan to use the milk within four days, you will need to store it in the freezer to keep it fresh. In that case, always scribble the date it was expressed right on the storage bags before they go in the freezer. If you plan to send the milk off to a daycare, don’t forget to jot your little one’s name on there too. This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to assume that milk will all get used up in the next six months and leave the date a mystery. That might work…until a spouse accidentally sticks a big bag of tater tots and a tub of ice cream in front of it. By the time you find it, you’ll definitely be wondering whether it’s still fresh or if by now it’s long expired breast milk. Sigh.
Tip #2: Securely Stashing & Retrieving
Once you’re ready to stash the milk for a while, be sure to stick it nice and deep inside the freezer. Ideally give it its own shelf or drawer to avoid the aforementioned tater tot trauma. Or if you’re ready to use it, pop it in the fridge. Avoid storing it near the door to prevent temperature changes when the door is left open as you scramble to put groceries away. Then, when you’re ready to use it, be sure to take the oldest milk out first. Trust us, when it comes to retrieving it, you’ll be really glad you popped the date on there!
Tip #3: No More Lost Bottle
One of the struggles of any new parent's existence is a lost bottle. You know how it goes. When you’re ready to use the milk that’s been sitting on the table… or so you thought. And several minutes (or hours) later you realize it’s rolled under the sofa. That milk is destined for expiration if we don't find it ASAP! Luckily, there are tools that you can use to ping your bottles. Ahem, the Veba Smart Bottle Monitor! Don't have one? Well, go get one mama! Until then, try to have designated spots where you keep bottles in the fridge, freezer, kitchen, and in the nursery so if it rolls around you know just where to look.
Tip #4: Watch the Heat
We all love some nice, warm weather right?! But, unfortunately, breast milk and formula expiration dates don’t. So if you’re lounging around with your little one under an umbrella for a picnic or heading to an air-conditioned spot to escape the heat, you’re going to have to be extra careful to avoid ending up with expired breast milk or formula. Never leave it in a hot car, in the sunshine, or otherwise let it reach an unsafe temperature. If the milk is out and about, it’s always best to have an insulated bag filled with frozen packs to keep the milk cold — even if the trip is under an hour. Better safe than sorry!
Tip #5: Level-Up Your Strategy
If you don't have a Veba, you’ll need a solid method to track how long it’s been since the milk in a bottle has been prepared or expressed and the temperature changes it’s gone through too. What we did before we created Veba was strapping a sticky note on and hoping it wouldn't fall off (seriously fingers were crossed). Another strategy is to tag the bottle with a dry erase marker — again hoping it doesn't rub off. For the excel mavens, spreadsheets might be an awesome tool for you. But I think many, if not most of us, really want something that does it all, no-stress, allowing us to completely forget about it until it’s time to feed. For that you’ll need to supercharge your strategy…
Tip #6: Get the Smartest Baby Bottle Monitor Ever
So, you’ve heard what could work. Here’s our best tip for what always will and will ensure you’ve got peace of mind too. If you’re as fed up with the drama and worry that you will misread a date, lose a label, or accidentally leave a bottle out to expire, the Veba is truly a must have. Our easy-to-use app tracks breast milk and formula expiration dates (and automatically adjusts them based on feeding time, ambient temperature, and creation time), pings bottles, logs feedings, and even reminds you about everything you need to know about your milk…so all you have to do is prepare it and feed your little one. That means more stress-free time relaxing, playing, and adoring your baby. What more could a new parent want?