Keeping Your Baby’s Food Safe
Infants, simply because they are so young and small, are often susceptible to food-borne illnesses. Fortunately, you can reduce this risk with a little common sense and safe food handling practices. Infants less than one year of age do not have fully developed immune systems and because of this bacteria that may not cause illness in an adult or older child, can cause serious illness in infants.
For infants under six months old, the safe storage times for formula and expressed breast milk are between 3 to 8 days in a refrigerator at 35 F to 40 F. Breast milk can be frozen for up to 6 to 12 months at 0 F. However, do not freeze formula.
If you give an infant water, it should be boiled water during the first three months of the infant’s life. Milk and formula for 6 to 12 month old babies may be stored for 48 hours in the refrigerator. The same 3 to 8 day time limit applies for milk, and the “do not freeze” rule applies to formula.
Other safety tips for the liquids that you give your baby include
- Observe and follow the “use by” dates for stored, unopened cans of formula.
- Heat bottles in hot tap water, not in the microwave oven.
- Shake baby bottles and check the temperature on the top of your hand before feeding.
- Discard any unused milk left in a bottle.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommended procedures for preparing bottles.
- When traveling, keep milk and formula cold (less than 41 F) by transporting bottles in an insulated cooler.
Some of the rules above apply for baby food but there are also other things to remember.
- Observe the “use by” dates when storing unopened jars. Jars of commercial baby food normally have a 1 to 2-year shelf-life. Check to see that the safety button on the lid is down before opening. If the lid does not “pop” when the jar is opened or if the jar is not sealed, do not use the food.
- For microwave heating, transfer food from unopened jars to bowls or dishes. For adequate heating, heat four ounces of food on high for 15 seconds, stir, and let stand for 30 seconds. Stir again and check the temperature (more than 140 F) before feeding food to the infant.
- Never allow opened jars of food to sit at room temperature.
- Solid baby foods that have been opened may be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of 3 days.
- Strained fruits and vegetables can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days or stored in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.
- Strained meats and eggs may be stored one day in the refrigerator or 1 to 2 months in the freezer.
- Meat and vegetable combinations are good for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator or 1 to 2 months in the freezer.
- Homemade baby foods will keep for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator or 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
Once commercial formulas or foods are opened you need to use them immediately and refrigerate the unused portion quickly after you are done. When you use the refrigerated leftovers, heat them quickly to 165 F to prevent growth of bacteria
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