Being a working parent? Tough. Being a
pumping parent? Also tough. But combining the two? Those are the super-parents in my eyes. Pumping was hard enough for me to handle when I stayed home with my baby, so I give major props to the parents who make it happen while they're working hard at their career. But it's not just pumping while working or traveling that makes things difficult — it's keeping your breast milk cold, safe, and ready to go to your baby. For many pumping parents, getting their stuff ready for work means grabbing a breast milk cooler bag, too.
Although some offices and workplaces have a fridge available for employees to use, it's not always feasible for everyone, which is why breast milk coolers can be great options for parents on the go, traveling, or any other circumstance where storing portable milk is needed. “Cooler bags for breast milk storage are very helpful to the breastfeeding or exclusively pumping mother, as they provide options for milk storage when refrigeration is not available,”
Susie Condict, RN, IBCLC, a lactation consultant at Maven Clinic, explains to Romper. What to consider before shopping
Human milk has antibacterial properties that help it to stay fresh when stored in certain conditions. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, for example, states that human milk is
safe at 15°C (59°F) for 24 hours. “In regard to safety tips for parents and understanding milk storage, it is essential they know how to properly store expressed milk to maximize its nutritional, immunological, and antioxidant qualities,” Condict says. “Human milk can maintain its nutritional qualities with proper storage, making it safe for use. In regard to the breast milk cooler option for storage, it is recommended to keep ice packs in constant contact with milk containers and limit opening the cooler bag.”
Whether you're traveling, working in a nontraditional office, or need something a little closer to you, these 10 breast milk cooler bags can keep your milk cold and your mind at ease. It's not easy pumping on the go, but having the right products can seriously help.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 A cooler bag for the parent who packs light
For under $10, this breast milk cooler bag is a steal. It’s perfect for parents who only need light storage space for up to three bottles while they’re out. The bottle cooler kit’s airtight, three-layer insulated wipeable lining keeps baby bottles and breast milk bags cold for hours. It’s designed to strap easily onto strollers or diaper bags, so you and your baby are ready for a trip to the park or to day care. Two-way zippers allow single or double bottle access, and spill-proof engineering keeps bottles in an upright position to prevent leakage. Not to mention, an ice pack is included for safety. And once you’re done with breastfeeding, it will serve as a cute lunchbox for either you or your growing little one.
“Small but mighty! Used this cooler for a work trip where I had to pump at the airport and on the plane. ... The milk stayed plenty cold with the added ice pack.”
2 A cooler bag for the parent who wants to pack a cold lunch, too
Packing your lunch and trying to keep
breast milk cold? The PackIt Personal Cooler may look like your average lunch bag, but it can keep its contents cold for up to 10 hours. Gel is sewn into the lining of the bag, so all you have to do is freeze it the night before and it's ready to use. There's no need to keep ice packs nearby or keep it in the fridge — it can keep all of your breast milk (and ham sandwich) cold for a full work day. Plus, it comes in 30 different colors and patterns. Review
“I love this concept that it has its "ice pack" built in. I use it as a breastmilk storage everyday at work and I've left it out room temp (when I have no access to fridge) and kept it in between breaks and lunches in the fridge and after 10 hours the sides are still frozen and the milk is still cold! Then I can rest assure my baby will stay safe. The zipper allows for seal and further keeping contents inside very cold.”
3 A cooler bag for the trendy parent
This large capacity breast milk cooler bag comes with an ice pack that can place up to four nine-ounce baby bottles. It has a great insulated lining that will maintain the temperature, keeping the milk cool for up to eight hours. It comes with a detachable buckle top handle so you can put it in the stroller easily, as well as a side pocket to put items in, such as a phone or keys. Functional and stylish, the bag is made with polyester dirt-proof fabric and waterproof lining for easy cleaning.
“I love this stylish little cooler! I've been using it for over a month now, I work 8 hour days and coach VB after work. This little cooler and ice pack keep my milk cold all day at work (kept at my desk), and I leave my pump bag in my truck while at practice for 2 hours (It's summer and 90+ degrees out), and it's still gold and ice pack is partially frozen when I get home.”
4 A cooler for the parent who uses Medela
Not all breastfeeding accessories are the same, so parents who use all Medela products will love the Medela Breast Milk Cooler and Transport Set. It fits the Medela bottles perfectly (it comes with four) and can also be dropped into any Medela breast pump bag. The cooler also comes with an ice pack to keep your milk cold and is perfect for transporting the milk from work to home or even to
day care the next day. Not to mention, it’s BPA-free, phthalate-free, latex-free, and lead-free. Review
“Stayed cold for me for at least 8 but probably closer to 10 hours; it’s about the same size as my Medela pump in-style pump. I bought two & gave one to a new mom for when she goes back to work! Works very well for a working mom that needs to pump throughout the day, but I imagine will be a great storage container for day trips too!”
5 A cooler for the parent who doesn’t pump much
If you need a cooler to hold just a couple of bags of breast milk and you want one that's easy to carry and small, the FlexiFreeze Pocketbook Cooler might be your best bet. It's filled with 16 cubes of water, so all you have to do is pop it in your freezer before you use it and make sure the water is all frozen. You can sandwich your bags of breast milk in between the layers of ice cubes and have a discreet way to keep your milk cold.
“Perfect small size for storing milk when pumping on the go. I used it for a day trip and decided to start using it for transporting my milk home from work each day. Today I fit 3 full and one partially full Lansinoh storage bags.”
6 A cooler bag for the versatile parent
Parents can use this breast milk cooler as a handheld bag, backpack, or shoulder bag, freeing up their hands to do plenty of activities. For its generally small size, this bag actually boasts quite a large storage space — it can fit up to six nine-ounce milk bottles or other things such as lunch boxes or snacks. Plus, its two-layer design is perfect for carrying multiple items — for example, bottles and a breast pump — in one functional space. It also features a convenient ice pack that will keep breast milk fresh for up to 12 hours, so you won’t have to worry about spoilage when you’re out and about.
“Spent a couple weeks going back and fourth from the hospital with our son every morning for testing (nice to not be admitted, but very inconvenient while exclusively pumping). We had to spend a couple hours there and had a total of an hour drive-time to and from EVERYDAY. So it was terrible at first with breastmilk being that I had to exclusively pump and you don’t want to waste any by letting it go bad of course. This fits my medela pump in style perfect with everything needed (cords, bottles, tubing, pump, etc).”
7 A cooler bag for the parent who travels
Traveling for work is difficult for any parent, but being a pumping parent makes it even more challenging. You need a cooler that you can carry on and off of a plane, as well as one that does its job at keeping your breast milk cold. The BALORAY Large Insulated Bag Waterproof Cooler Carrier Bag comes with multiple pockets, foam insulation, and insulated oxford material plus solid YKK zippers to be leak-proof and durable. Because it's a soft cooler bag, you don't have to worry about it being a hassle to travel with, and certain sizes can even fit snugly on your luggage handles, making maneuvering through the airport a breeze.
Its use definitely isn’t limited to storing breast milk. Plenty of reviewers note how great it is for food storage.
“Being a flight attendant, I can be gone from home for up to 4 days at a time that I have to meal prep for. This lunch box easily fits my 4 days worth of meals and snacks, including my ice bags!”
8 A cooler for the parent who drives a lot
There are several different careers out there that require working parents to drive around in their car. If that’s the case, they need a cooler that can remain cold, especially during the summer when ice doesn't seem to stick around for long. This portable fridge has a seven-liter capacity, great reviews, and can cool down to 32°F. It plugs not only into wall outlets, but also right into your car's adapter or cigarette lighter and is designed to fit comfortably in the passenger seat of your car. Plus, it comes with a convenient carry handle that allows for easy transportation from your home to the car and wherever else you go.
“Love this little fridge!! It gets COLD! I use it solely to store my breastmilk in my bedroom. It gets sooo cold that it gets icy and I have to pick it off.”
9 A cooler bag for the parent who only wants to carry one bag
It's hard enough making sure you have the baby's bags packed for day care, along with your purse, your lunch, your work bag, and your breast pump bag. Now you have to carry a cooler, too? Not if you have a Sarah Wells "Lizzy" Breast Pump bag. The stylish bag not only fits any portable pump, but it also has thermally-lined pockets on both sides to store pumped milk in, as long as you keep an ice pack. The milk can stay cold for up to six hours in the pockets, and you don't have to carry another bag.
“1 year after using this bag, it is still in great shape. I am done with breastfeeding but I still use it as my work bag. I just tug in two compartments to the side and use it like a regular bag. The fact it made of nylon so that I don’t have to worry it gets stained or dirty is great. All the zippers and pockets are still working perfectly.”
10 A cooler for the parent who works long hours
If you have long days where you can't meet the six- to eight-hour rule for getting breast milk in the freezer, you'll want to invest in an iceless cooler. The Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler is pricey, but it can be plugged into both your car and an outlet right there at your desk. You'll be able to keep all of your pumped breast milk cold and know that it's going to stay cold on the way home, even if you have a long commute. It even features a swing-up handle with comfort grip for easy carrying and molded-in side handles for two-handed carrying or lifting.
“I specifically bought this cooler to store breastmilk while I traveled. It met my expectations. I also had the 110v cord to plug into a wall. I found that keeping it plugged in to stay cool likely made a difference. I did put some yogurt in it from my hotel and it kept it chilled until I ate it a few hours later.”
Sometimes the equipment you invest in can make or break your day-to-day experience as a new parent. If you’re struggling to figure out how to store your breast milk effectively, these coolers can be game-changing.
Expert: Susie Condict , RN, IBCLC, lactation consultant at Maven Clinic What Parents Are Talking About — Delivered Straight To Your Inbox
This article was originally published on
June 24, 2016