Best Cooler for Traveling with Breastmilk

It doesn’t matter how much of a superwoman you are, everyone needs a little support from time-to-time to help them get through the day, and being a working mom is tough enough without the added stress of pumping at work.

Finding a way to keep your breast milk cold, safe and ready to use can certainly make your life easier.

With a suitable breastmilk cooler, you can prepare breastmilk in the morning or the evening before to give you flexibility when you’re traveling or when you need the help of others to help feed your baby when you’re unable to be there yourself.

In this article, we review seven completely different ways to keep breast milk cold. There is an option for every type of mum and every type of situation.

Introduction

There are lots of great options for breastfeeding moms to consider.

For some people a simple cooler bag with an ice pack is all they need. For others, a self freezing bag or a battery powered refrigerator is a better option.

Comparison of a Few Top Coolers for Breastmilk

Image Description Our Rating
Medela Breast Milk Cooler and Transport Set, 5 ounce Bottles with Lids, Contoured Ice Pack, Cooler Carrier Bag
Medala Breastmilk Cooler Set
FlexiFreeze Pocketbook Breastmilk Cooler, Black
FlexiFreeze Pocketbook Cooler
Large Cooler Lunch Bag With Extra Liner. Two Insulated Compartments, Heavy Duty Fabric, Thick Foam Insulation, 2 Heat Sealed Soft Peva Liners, Many Pockets, Strong Double Zippers, Padded Straps.
Mojecto Cooler Bag
Sarah Wells Lizzy Breast Pump Bag (Navy)
Sarah Wells Lizzy Breast Pump Bag (Navy)
PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure, Black
PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag
Igloo Thermoelectric Cooler
J L Childress 6 Bottle Cooler - One Size - Blue/Green
JL Childress 6 Bottle Cooler

**Below, you’ll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews.

Product Reviews

1) Medala Breastmilk Cooler Set Review

Breastfeeding the heart of Medala’s business, and as such, this cooler is specifically designed to store breastmilk.

The cooler can hold four Medala, Harmony or Swing 5-ounce (150ml) bottles. When you buy the cooler, you also get 4 Madala standard mouth bottles and storage lids included with the purchase.

A contoured ice pack is designed to wrap around the bottles to keep them cool. The curved design ensures the ice pack makes contact with a large part of the bottles surface area.

On a hot day, the ice pack will thaw in around five or six hours. As such, it’s not designed for extended day trips away in the middle of summer. You can extend the time by keeping the cooler in the shade or indoors. When the cooler is not in direct sunlight, it can keep milk cold for 12 hours and keep frozen milk solid for 4 or 5 hours.

As a Medala designed product, the cooler is a perfect fit for inside your existing Medala Freestyle and Pump In Style Breast pump bag. However, if you need to store larger bottles or hot foot, you’ll need to carry an additional bag as space is limited.

You will need to carry your bottle nipples separately as they don’t fit within the height of the case and the bottles are only designed to be sealed and stored with the supplied storage lids.

If you prefer to use Lansinoh bags, the cooler will hold between 10 and 12 bags.

Our Verdict: If you own a Medala, Swing or Harmony breast pump, this is a perfect choice as it also comes with 4 Medala bottles. You won’t have space to store anything else – but it does exactly what its designed for and keeps bottles cool for up to 6 hours.


2) FlexiFreeze Pocketbook Cooler Review

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to store a couple of bags of breastmilk, this may be what you are looking for.

Essentially this is a zip up folder or bag with a wall of ice cubes built into the walls of the case. After putting the FlexiFreeze pocketbook into the freezer, you can sandwich your bags of breast milk between the layers of ice cubes to keep the milk cold.

The pocketbook can easily hold 4 Lansinoh bags (4oz size) or two 5-ounce bags with the ability to keep them cool for about 8 hours.

Because of its shape, you won’t be able to store bottles in this type of cooler.

Some purchasers have cut one side of the ice bags out to store more milk in the space provided. The ice bags are stitched into the case design and can be removed by removing the stitching.

Our Verdict: A highly portable option for storing pouches of milk. The storage capacity is low, but the size and portability make it easy to throw into a diaper bag.


3) Mojecto Cooler Bag Review

WINNER : Best Breast Milk Cooler for Travel

If space is your priority, the Mojecto Large Cooler Bag is a good choice. It can hold far more than a few bottles of breast milk and has the ability to keep your items hot or cold.

The bag is kept cold with an high-density thick foam insulation. When you fill the bag with breast milk, you will also need to add an ice pack to keep the milk cold.

As this is a soft-sided cooler and doesn’t provide much protection, it’s also not designed to hold loose ice or homemade ice packs. You need to make sure you use solid or gel ice packs that are designed for cooler bags and lunchboxes. The insulation is excellent and with the right ice packs, the contents will stay cold for 20 hours or more.

When it comes to pockets, you have plenty of options. The top insulated compartment is isolated from the insulated pocket at the bottom of the bag. There is plenty of room for food, drinks, and accessories. The front and side pockets contain internal netting to break the pocket into even smaller compartments.

The overall outside measurement is 15 inches long by 9 inches wide and 12 inches high. The bottom compartment is 8 inches high and the top compartment is 4 inches high.

Mojecto has one of the best warranties available. If the cooler is defective or damaged in any way, the manufacturer will replace the bad with no questions asked. The cooler is supplied with an extra liner that you can install yourself if the original one gets damaged or wears out.

Our Verdict: This is a soft cooler and is not designed to hold loose ice. If you keep this in mind, it is an excellent choice with plenty of room to store breastmilk and associated food, drinks, and accessories.


4) Sarah Wells Lizzy Breast Pump Bag (Navy) Review

Do you want a cooler that doesn’t look like a cooler?

You could easily be forgiven for thinking the Sarah Wells "Lizzy" breast pump bag is just another trendy and fashionable bag.

However, hidden inside the lining are a couple of thermally lined pockets that are designed to keep breast milk cool with the help of a suitable ice pack.

The navy design bag is named after Sarah Wells’ younger sister. Not only is it attractive, but it also has hidden compartments that can keep milk cool for up to six hours.

Not only can it hold breast milk, but it also has plenty of room to hold a breast pump, laptop, phone, camera and other items of food and accessories. When it comes time to setup your breast pump, you don’t need to remove it from the bag to connect it to a power source. The pump can be accessed from a discrete zip on the end of the bag.

The bag is compatible with Medala Pump In Style, Freestyle, and Sonata pumps. It is also compatible with the Spectra S1 and S2m Amedo, Ardo, Freemie, Hygeia, Philips Avent and many more brands.

When you no longer need a breast pump, the bag can easily be converted into a diaper bag with compartments to hold hot and cold food.

Our Verdict: A stylish bag to keep your breast milk cold while also looking good. A liitle bit more expensive than other options, but when you consider that you can keep using it for years to come, the extra expense is well worthwhile.


5) PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag Review

WINNER : Best Breast Milk Cooler for Work

Instead of adding an ice pack to keep your breast milk cold, the PackIt freezable lunch bag takes things up a notch.

Simply put the bag into the freezer overnight or for a good 12 hours. By the morning you’ll have a portable cooling unit that doesn’t need ice packs or power to keep the contents cool.

The gel sewn into the lining of the bag is food safe and water resistant. The outside of the bag stays dry – even as the gel starts to defrost. The contents will stay cold for between 6 and 8 hours. You can extend the duration by putting the bag in the refrigerator when you get to your destination.

With over 40 funky designs, there’s sure to be a pattern or color that takes your fancy. This is also one of the top sellers on Amazon with over 3,000 positive reviews.

The top of the bag can be zipped shut and the buckle allows you to clip the bag to a backpack or stroller. The only negative is that the shoulder strap is a fixed length. It would have been nice to have an adjustable strap – but don’t let this put you off.

Because the bag is not designed specifically for breastmilk, the bottles may move around if you don’t completely fill the space provided.

Check out the promotional video from the manufacturer:

Our Verdict: A really inexpensive and effective way to store breast milk. We love the choice of colors and designs. A good choice for between 6 and 8 hours of cold storage.


6) Igloo Thermoelectric Cooler Review

WINNER : Best Breast Milk Cooler for the Car

Instead of relying on ice packs or frozen ice or gel bag linings, why not consider a fully functional portable refrigerator?

The Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler allows you to keep your breastmilk cold for significantly longer than other ice pack options.

This portable refrigerator can be plugged into a 12 volt DC cigarette outlet in your car, or directly into a power point in your office or home (with an optional power adapter).

It can cool the contents to 30 or 35°F less than the outside air temperature. It takes about 3 hours to reach full cooling temperature when it is first plugged in.

The unit doesn’t give off any heat and runs quieter than the noise of a single fan on a low setting. With that said, it’s important not to block the inlet or outlets vents.

Earlier models had a problem with the power cord melting after continuous use. According to the manufacturer, the latest models have addressed this issue.

Our Verdict: Plug this cooler into your car to keep the contents cold for extended periods. The cooler is probably too bulky for everyday office use and is best kept for long trips away or overnight stays. One of the most popular low-cost battery-powered coolers on Amazon.


7) JL Childress 6 Bottle Cooler Review

With storage for six bottles at once, this bag is perfect for an entire days supply of breastmilk and baby food.

There is plenty of room in this bag with room for six full height 8-ounce bottles, an ice pack and additional storage in the lid to hold 3 food jars and additional utensils, teats and bibs etc.

For long trips away, you can use a larger ice pack by reducing the number of bottles or swapping some of them for the 4-ounce size. (Keep in mind that the smaller bottles tend to be wider and you may not be able to fit in as many bottles)

The bag can keep food cold for 5 or 6 hours with a single ice pack. At a push, you can also use it to keep food warm. It won’t last anywhere as long – but warm meals will still have a small amount of heat after a couple of hours.

When you buy this cooler, you also get a reusable ice pack. When you take this into account, the bag works out to be very inexpensive.

The carry strap is quite long and can’t be removed or adjusted. However, its a good length for throwing over your shoulder or carrying crossed over your back.

Our Verdict: A high capacity cooler that can take 6 full height bottles and still have room for food jars and accessories. The inclusion of an ice pack makes this a very inexpensive option.

How to choose the right Cooler for Breast Milk

Amount of Space

A good cooler will have enough space for two or more bottles of varying sizes. You need to be aware that many coolers are designed to store bottles without the nipple or plastic cap attached. Often the bottles are stored with a flat lid that can provide a flat top and bottom surface.

As your baby grows older, you will want to carry small jars of food and accessories etc. Look for coolers that have extra compartments or storage space that can give you flexibility as your baby moves onto solid foods.

Cooling Method

There are only a few ways to keep bottles cold when you’re on the road.

  • Ice Packs
  • Gel Wall Linings
  • Refregeration

Coolers that use ice packs are flexible and easy to use. Having the ability to swap an ice pack in the middle of the day, or to put additional packs in the cooler to keep things cool for longer makes them an ideal choice for many moms.

The only issue with ice packs is that the cold is not evenly distributed throughout the cooler. Items placed directly against the ice pack will stay colder that items stored further away, so always use the warmer bottles first.

Gel Lined Coolers can be thrown into the freezer overnight and completely surround the contents with cold ice to give an evenly distributed cooling effect. Unlike ice pack coolers, the bags need to be frozen in advance and are not suitable for impromptu outings.

Portable refrigerators can be run off your car battery (through a cigarette lighter) or can be plugged into the wall at home or in the office. They can keep milk cold indefinitely and allow you to store milk for longer. Portable refrigerators can sometimes be bulky and difficult to handle but their ability to keep milk cold for longer more than makes up for the inconvenience.

FAQ

How long can breast milk stay in a cooler bag?

The amount of time breastmilk can be stored is dependant on two important factors

  • The temperature inside the cooler
  • If the milk is freshly pumped or has been thawed in the refrigerator after being frozen

A frozen ice pack can normally drop the temperature inside a cooler to 60°F (15°C). At this temperature, freshly pumped milk can be stored for 24 hours. However, if the milk has been thawed in a refrigerator form a frozen state, the maximum lifetime drops to only 4 hours.

If the cooler doesn’t have an ice block and you can keep it at room temperature (66°F – 72°F), fresh breast milk can last between 6 and 10 hours, and freshly thawed milk from the freezer can be used for up to 4 hours.

*Storage times may vary for preterm or sick babies. Sources: Jones, F. , Best Practice for Expressing, Storing and Handling Human Milk in Hospitals, Homes and Child Care Settings. Raleigh, NC: Human Milk Banking Association of North America, 2011; Mohrbacher, N. Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple: A Guide for Helping Mothers. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing, 2010.

Where is the best place to store breast milk in the fridge?

It’s important you don’t store breast milk in the door of the fridge. The best place to store breast milk is in the lower half of the fridge, near the back wall where the fridge is coldest.

Freshly pumped milk can be stored for up to 8 days in a refrigerator that is running at 39°F (15°C). Milk that has been thawed from frozen can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Don’t add freshly expressed milk to milk that is already cold. You need to wait until the milk is the same temperature (either by cooling or warming to room temperature).

Where is the best place to store breast milk in the freezer?

The breast milk should be stored as close to the back or bottom of the freezer as possible. You may notice that the milk separates into layers. This is fine, and the milk can be remixed once it has thawed.

Freshly pumped breast milk can be stored for 3 or 4 months at 0°F (-18°C). You should never refreeze breast milk once it has been defrosted.

Always defrost frozen milk in the fridge or a cooler bag with an ice pack. Reheating frozen milk at air temperature is not always a safe practice.

If you are pressed for time, stand the bottle in warm water until it thaws. Use the milk straight away and throw away any left over after the feed.

Do NOT use a microwave to heat or defrost breast milk. The microwaves destroy many of the important qualities of the milk and uneven heating can cause hot patches that can burn the babies mouth.

Quick Reviews of a Few of Our Favorite Breastmilk Coolers for Traveling

Type Cooling Method Our Rating
Medala Breastmilk Cooler Set Ice Pack
FlexiFreeze Pocketbook Cooler Freeze entire bag
Mojecto Cooler Bag Ice Pack
Sarah Wells Lizzy Breast Pump Bag (Navy) Ice Pack
PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag Freeze entire bag
Igloo Thermoelectric Cooler Battery powered
JL Childress 6 Bottle Cooler Ice Pack

Final Thoughts

With everything from simple ice packs to fully enclosed freezer bags and portable refrigerators, there’s an option for every mom. The options available are wide and varied and each of the products we reviewed has their pros and cons.

The days of having to stay at home to breastfeed are long gone and the stress of pumping at work can be avoided by storing your milk in portable coolers that can keep your milk cold for the entire day.

If you’re looking for a big bag to store everything for a big road trip, you cant look past the Mojecto Cooler Bag with all its storage compartments.

If you’re using the Medala pump system, the Medala Breastmilk Cooler Set makes complete sense because you can use it with your existing bottles.

The Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bag and Packit Freezable Lunch Bag have some funky colors and designs that will make your cooler like a clothing accessory.

Finally, if you’re on the road during the day, why not take advantage of the vehicles power supply to keep your milk cold indefinitely in the Igloo Thermoelectric Cooler.

Do you have any tips and tricks you use to store your breast milk? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below to help other breastfeeding moms.


Image credits: Amazon.com