Should I Freeze Dry My Breast Milk?

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If you are a breastfeeding or pumping parent, you may have caught wind of the growing trend of freeze drying breast milk. Many people are attracted to this method—which essentially turns breast milk into a powdered form—because it’s more convenient than freezing milk, and easily portable.

Freeze drying breast milk is a fairly new concept, and there isn’t much data out there about whether or not it can be safely fed to babies. We reached out to experts to help us understand what freeze drying breast milk involves, the potential benefits, and what we know about its safety.

How Does Freeze Drying Breast Milk Work?

Freeze drying breast milk—also known as lyophilization—is a process where the water content is removed from breast milk and the milk is turned into powdered form. In the first part of the process, the milk must be completely frozen to about -50 degrees Celsius, explains Amanda Rahman, DO, director of pediatrics neonatology at Staten Island University Hospital.

“This sample is then placed under a vacuum and undergoes a process known as sublimation, where the pressure removes the water content of the breast milk,” Dr. Rahman describes. “Because the milk is frozen, the water content goes directly from a solid to a gaseous phase.”

After this—and before it can be fed to an infant—the breast milk must be reconstituted, meaning that the proper proportion of water has to be mixed back into the powdered breast milk, Dr. Rahman says.

What Are the Benefits of Freeze Drying Breast Milk?

There are several reasons that parents may be attracted to the idea of freeze drying breast milk. The biggest one is likely storage, says Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD, pediatrician and consultant for Mom Loves Best.

“Regular frozen breast milk has a shelf life of 6-12 months in a deep freeze,” she explains. “Freeze dried breast milk is shelf-stable, meaning it does not require refrigeration or freezing.”

As for how long the shelf-life of freeze dried breast milk is, companies who are offering freeze drying services say that their milk is shelf-stable for three years, says Dr. Rahman.

Of course, not all families may need to store breast milk this long for their children. Still, it may provide a sense of security for some households, Dr. Rahman says. “Some [parents] choose to save this milk for a future child in case it is needed—although this is not currently recommended by most health care professionals,” she says.

Besides storage, some parents may like the idea that freeze dried breast milk can be moved from one location to another without worrying about keeping it at a certain temperature. “Because it comes in packets and is at room temperature, it can be useful when there is no access to refrigerator or freezer space, [such as] a power outage, family relocation, or travel,” Dr. Rahman describes.

Is Freeze Drying Breast Milk Recommended?

As of now, no major health organizations—such as the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—have weighed in on the idea of freeze drying breast milk.

“The CDC has not given any concrete answers to their recommendation of freeze drying breast milk,” explains Molly Peterson, IBCLC, lactation consultant at Peterson Lactation Services. “But they have put out several statements about freeze drying other foods and the benefits, so hopefully we will have more information soon.”

Dr. Rahman agrees that freeze drying breast milk has potential. "But before it can be recommended, its safety needs to be clearly determined," she says. Some of the risks that need to be looked into include whether freeze dried milk could become contaminated with bacteria, and whether the milk would retain its nutritional safety, Dr. Rahman explains.

For example, when breast milk is donated to a milk bank, it’s pasteurized so that any potential bacteria will be killed. But freeze drying of breast milk is different from pasteurization, Dr. Rahman explains.  “When milk undergoes pasteurization, it eliminates bacterial pathogens,” she says. “However, freeze drying does not eliminate these pathogens in the same way.”

As for whether or not freeze dried breast milk loses any of its nutritional content, there is some potential good news on that front. Although research is limited, several studies have found the nutritional content of freeze dried breast milk to be largely unaltered. The same is true of other components, such as antibodies and immunological factors. For example, a 2016 study found that most—though not all—immunoglobulins in breast milk stayed stable when it was freeze dried.

How to Freeze Dry Your Breast Milk

If you’re interested in freeze drying your breast milk, it’s best to talk to your child's pediatrician or healthcare provider beforehand, since it's a fairly new practice and not currently greenlit by major medical organizations.

If you do end up deciding to freeze dry your milk, it’s not something you should attempt to do at home, advises Peterson. “While it may be possible to freeze dry your breast milk at home, it's not recommended,” she says. “There is a lot of specific equipment and time that goes into the freeze drying process, and ensuring the safety of your little one's health should be the number one priority.”

Dr. Poinsett agrees. “I would not recommend freeze drying breast milk at home as the process requires multiple steps, strict sanitation, and expensive equipment,” she says. If you’re interested in freeze drying your milk, Dr. Poinsett recommends looking into the various companies online that offer the service.

“Two specialty websites freeze dry breast milk: Milkify in Houston, TX, and Boobyfood in Canada,” she says, adding that you'd have to ship your frozen breast milk to the companies.

Things can get pricey, though. “The price is between $2 to 3 per ounce, [and] the process is not covered by U.S. insurance,” Dr. Poinsett notes.

A Word From Verywell

Breastfeeding and pumping for your baby can be exhausting, and it’s understandable that you may be looking for convenient ways to streamline the process. Freeze drying breast milk has the potential to be quite helpful, as it can be more easily stored and may make traveling with frozen milk easier.

Still, freeze drying breast milk is very new, and isn’t yet regulated or recommended by organizations like the CDC, AAP, or FDA. This article is meant to share insight into this topic, but should not be taken as medical advice. If you have questions about having your milk freeze dried, please be sure to consult with your healthcare provider.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Alberta Health Services. Freeze-dried Human Milk.

  2. Alberta Health Services. Freeze-dried Human Milk.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk.

  4. Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Frequent Questions.

  5. Cortez MV, Soria EA. The Effect of Freeze-Drying on the Nutrient, Polyphenol, and Oxidant Levels of Breast Milk. Breastfeeding Medicine. 2016;11:551-554. doi:10.1089/bfm.2016.0102

  6. Castro-Albarran J, Aguilar Uscanga BR, Calon F, et al. Spray and Freeze Drying of Human Milk on the Retention of Immunoglobulins (IgA, IgG, IgM). Drying Technology. 2016;34(15). doi:10.1080/07373937.2016.1141781

Additional Reading

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.