Although a baby’s diet is rather limited during the first year, baby food – both homemade and store-bought – has the potential to carry germs that cause illness. Thus, precautions must be taken during preparation and storage to ensure your baby’s food is safe to eat.
Handling Baby Foods
Wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water prior to preparing or serving baby food. Use hot, soapy water to wash all utensils (including the can opener) and dishes that are used for your baby’s food; rinse well with hot water and air dry (or use a dishwasher). Thaw frozen baby food, covered, in the refrigerator overnight; never thaw it at room temperature.
Preparing Homemade Baby Food
- Wash the blender, food processor, and other equipment in hot, soapy water; rinse well with hot water, air dry (or use the dishwasher, if appropriate).
- Carefully clean work surfaces, such as counters and cutting boards, with hot, soapy water.
- Keep raw meat / poultry / fish and egg yolks separate from cooked foods and raw fruits and vegetables.
- Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables prior to cooking.
Be sure poultry, meat, fish, and egg yolks are completely cooked through.
- Refrigerate or freeze prepared food in shallow, covered containers immediately – don’t leave it out at room temperature.
Preparing Commercial Baby Food
- Check the expiration date.
- Make sure safety buttons on jarred food lids are down; if a lid doesn’t “pop” upon opening, don’t use it. Ensure plastic containers are completely sealed; if they’re not, discard.
- Don’t use jars with rusty lids or chipped glass; do not use containers that are dented or damaged.
Feeding Your Baby
Saliva on your baby’s spoon may introduce germs into the food he or she is eating. These germs can multiply if the food is saved in the refrigerator for a future feeding. Therefore, it’s best to avoid feeding your baby directly out of the baby food jar or container. Rather, put one serving into a dish and place the jar/container of food back in the refrigerator. Discard any food left in the dish after your baby has eaten – don’t re-use leftovers.
Homemade and Opened Commercial Baby Food Storage Guide
Always store baby food in a covered or sealed container.
|Cooked Fruits and Vegetables||
2 to 3 days
|1 to 3 months|
|Meat/Fish/Poultry and Egg Yolks||1 day||1 to 2 months|
|Meat and Vegetable Combinations||1 to 2 days||1 to 2 months|
Transporting Homemade or Opened Commercial Baby Food
Baby food should always be transported in an insulated container with frozen ice packs. Throw out any food that goes without refrigeration or ice packs for more than 2 hours. Never store dirty diapers and baby food (including unopened) in the same compartment of your diaper bag. Germs from a dirty diaper (even if wrapped up well) could contaminate the baby food.
The Bottom Line
Your infant’s health is of utmost importance. It is worth whatever effort it takes to make sure your baby’s food is safe and free of germs.
Keeley graduated Summa Cum Laude from Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition and a Dietetics Specialization. She went on to complete her dietetic internship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where she received the Distinguished Dietetic Intern Award and Scholarship.