Breastfeeding, Working Mom

Bottle Prepping and Labeling

So many bottles. ALLLLL the bottles. Bottles for dayz, as the kids would say. Some days I feel as if my entire evening is consumed with bottles. Nipples. Caps. Bottles. Nipple rings (No, not that kind. My goth days are behind me.) I have dreams about swimming in a kiddie pool full of just bottles. BOTTLES EVERYWHERE.

Prepping and labeling bottles for daycare can be quite a chore, but I’ve found a few ways to make the task less daunting. Here are my tips for preparing and labeling bottles each day!

Every day, we use 7-9 bottles. I have 12 for this reason. Here’s the breakdown:

*3 bottles go to daycare

*4 bottles are for pumping at work

*2 for a night pump that I usually do to maintain supply

This means, every day, I get to wash 9 bottles. And caps. And nipples and nipple caps and nipple rings. Good grief!

Labeling Bottles

Little Foot goes to a really nice daycare. It costs the equivalent of a small beach house mortgage. It’s clean, the teachers are well-educated, and they’re certified with all these certifications that sound all acronym-y and prestigious. Ok, great.

Along with all those special certifications comes rules. A lot of rules. Specifically, all breast milk bottles have to be labeled and dated and stored with a little colored ring around them that matches with a little ankle bracelet she wears each day.

I had no idea all this labeling would mean a lot of extra time for me each day. Permanent marker is apparently a bold-face liar, as it does not permanently mark bottles. Which meant every day, I was washing bottles, waiting several hours for them to completely dry, and then writing my girl’s full name, “breast milk,” and the date expressed on three bottles.

I get it. Breast milk is a bodily fluid. It’s very personal. But really, they make it seem like it’s radioactive or something. They won’t wash breast milk bottles or transfer breast milk from a freezer bag to a bottle. Heaven forbid that someone mistake this toxic, dangerous “breast milk” for some inert formula. Don’t touch it! Don’t waft the fumes. Don’t look it directly in the eye! Make sure to label it!

After about 3 days of washing, prepping, and labeling bottles, I’d had enough. I figured my options were to call in sick for the rest of the year, give up on pumping all together, or give my 3 month old chicken nuggets and bananas. Kidding about the last one…

Fortunately, I stumbled upon this blog and found some seriously fantastic time-saving tips for prepping bottles. Not that it isn’t still a nightly chore, but this system has greatly streamlined the whole process:


Name and “breast milk” label: these Self-Laminating Labels have held up really well so far. I wrote baby girl’s full name and “breast milk” on each label. Boom. 3 minutes of my life each night I get back.

Date: I use these little Erasable Food Labels  to write the “use by” date on each bottle. The set comes with a few different size labels, a marker, and eraser. You can totally use them on other things too, like Tupperware or freezer storage. I prefer to write a “use by” date rather than date expressed because sometimes I use thawed milk, sometimes it’s fresh milk, and this eliminates the need to think about the milk storage rules. For thawed milk, I write a use-by date for the day after I take it out of the freezer; for pumped milk, I write a date of 3 days after. If it sat out at room temp at all, I usually put 1 or 2 days after just to be on the safe side.

Ta-da! A few minutes gained back each evening.

Here’s the rundown of dealing with ALL THE BOTTLES each night:

  1. Take pumped bottles out of cooler and put in fridge
  2. Take used bottles out of cooler, disassemble everything and put in a bowl in the sink with hot water and Medela Soap to soak for a few minutes.
*Note about the Medela soap: I feel like a sucker for buying this soap. I really do. But, I tried a few other soaps, and they all seemed to leave a soapy residue behind. It took A LOT of rinsing and scrubbing to get the soapy smell off, especially off of the nipples. This soap seems to get the job done and rinses clean. Well worth it.

3.  Rinse each part, scrub the bottles using a bottle brush, make sure nipples especially are clean, put everything on a drying rack.

4. After dinner/whatever trash TV show I feel like watching when bottles are dry, dole out the fresh milk into clean, labeled bottles.          Write new date on re-writable label, put new nipple set (I store the sets pre-assembled) on each. Put into cooler to take to                    daycare, put in fridge for tomorrow. Put 4 more clean bottles and caps into work bag for pumping tomorrow.

5. Pour a glass of wine and marvel at my ability to keep my life so organized. Brush dinner crumbs onto floor and turn off light so I           can’t see the filth. Return to trash TV.

What’s that? You have your own dirty dishes and don’t need to see mine?


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