Baby Food

Baby food storage: How to safely handle your baby's food

Whether you're making homemade baby food or purchasing a premade brand at the store, there are several precautions to take before serving baby food.

Homemade Baby Food

The advantage of preparing homemade food for baby is that parents know exactly what ingredients are in the food. Preparing food at home can be time consuming, but there are some basic rules for preparation and serving that will make this investment of time worthwhile.

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1. Pureed foods can be kept in the freezer for up to three months, but they will be best if used within one month. Do not be surprised to see ice crystals on pureed frozen foods. This is not freezer burn, but rather, the moisture from the food will rise to the top of the puree and will create ice crystals.

2. Never freeze or reheat in glass. Glass can crack, leaving microscopic shards and fragments in the food.

3. Once a food item has been thawed, do not refreeze it.

4. Freezing pureed meat can create a gritty texture. It is still nutritionally sound, but it may create a textural problem for the baby, and the meat may be rejected by the baby.

5. Foods such as apples, bananas and pears freeze well in the pureed state, but they may turn brown in the process. They may appear less appetizing for that reason, but they are nutritionally fine for the baby.

6. Foods that freeze well include berries, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, corn, beans, peaches and squash. Rice and noodles do not freeze well in the pureed state. Freeze these whole and then puree when thawed.

7. Foods that do not freeze well in the pureed state include: citrus fruits, apricots, dairy, eggs, melon, grapes, potatoes, tofu, meats and zucchini.

8. Refrigerators will adequately defrost the puree along with keeping it in cool water or with a setting on the microwave. Never leave on the counter at room temperature to defrost the puree.. Use the defrosted food the same day it is defrosted, or keep it one day in the refrigerator. Defrosted puree deteriorates more rapidly than canned or freshly made baby food.

9. Baby Cubes is a product that can be purchased at www.onestepahead.com. These are packages of 10 individual 1-ounce, snap-lidded containers that are stackable. These easily go from the freezer to the microwave to the dishwasher. They are available for $6.95, or purchase two and they are $5.95 each.

10. Another product for making homemade baby food is the So Easy Baby Food Kit, which is available through www.target.com. This includes 1-ounce freezer trays much like ice cube trays, a cookbook, a DVD and nutritional information cards.

Premade Purchased Foods

If making your own food does not always fit into the schedule, there are a few guidelines for using premade purchased foods:

1. Always check the ""expiry date. If it is expired, do not purchase it or use it.

2. Make sure the vacuum-seal button is down. You should hear a whoosh, pop or click when you open the jar. If you do not hear this, discard the jar of baby food.

3. Always check the plastic seal on cereals. Do not purchase if it has been removed or is loose. Store opened cereal in a cool, dry place. Never place it in the refrigerator as this will make the cereal clumpy.

4. Store unopened jars of food and cereal at room temperature on cupboard shelves.

5. Refrigerate any unused portions of the baby food immediately. Fruits and vegetables may be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days, meats and eggs should only be kept one day and meat / veggie combinations can be kept up to two days.

General Advice

Before preparing any baby food, make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water to remove any chance of residue from diaper changes or other germs and bacteria that you may have come in contact with.

Feeding time can be a great bonding time for parents and baby. Take a few precautions to make sure the food you share with the baby during this time leads to a healthy and happy tummy.

By Mary Jane Suttor