How long can baby food be left out

Storing Baby Food (Store Bought and Homemade)- Healthy Little Foodies

All Posts, by Date » Learn » Starting Solids » Storing Baby Food

Safely Storing Baby Food is so important, regardless if you are making your own or using store-bought. Learn how to safely store, refrigerate, freeze and reheat your baby’s food in this handy guide.

Why Care is Needed When Storing Baby Food.

Babies digestive and immune systems are immature and they do not have the same immunity as older children and adults. For this reason, it is imperative that you pay close attention to food safety and hygiene when preparing and storing baby food.

Foodborne illnesses are quite common, estimated to affect 4. 1 million Australians each year (1). The symptoms are unpleasant and for some groups with low immunity, such as children under 5, they can be quite serious. (1)

However, good food safety and hygiene practices will help prevent this from happening.

Storing Store-Bought Baby Food

The majority of store-bought baby food is shelf-stable until opening. If you buy from the ambient section you can store the baby food, at room temperature, until the expiration date. Do not use after this date.

When opening, it is important to check that the product is properly sealed and the packaging is not damaged. In pouches make sure the plastic cap seal is not broken and if opening jars listen for a popping sound, which means it has been sealed properly and is safe to eat. If this is not the case then do not use.

Once open, the baby food is no longer shelf-stable and will need to be refrigerated for storing. Replace the lid and store in the refrigerator for 1 – 2 days. (products with meats and poultry up to one day and fruit/vegetables two days). Any food leftover after this time should be thrown away.

If you wish to store leftovers then do not feed your baby straight out of the jar or allow them to suck from the pouch. Instead, transfer a small amount of the baby food to a separate bowl/container (or squeeze from the pouch onto spoon).

“Double Dipping” from the spoon-to mouth- to container can introduce bacteria from your baby’s saliva which can grow and may cause food poisoning. Throw away any leftover food from a bowl/container you have been using to feed your baby.

Storing Homemade Baby Food

As a baby only eats tiny amounts, especially in the early stages of their feeding journey, it saves time to make up larger quantities of baby food and store for future meals.

Cooling Food

After cooking it is important to cool the food as quickly as possible. Simply putting your hot food in the fridge may not be enough to cool it down quickly enough. Instead try one of the following

  1. Place it in an airtight container and hold it under a cold running tap. Stir it from time to time so it cools consistently all the way through
  2. Dividing into smaller portions
  3. Transfer to a larger or pre-chilled container and spreading the food out.

Never allow the food to sit out too long, it should be chilled and refrigerated within 1-2 hours, depending on the room temperature.


Leftover baby food can be refrigerated and used within 1- 2 days. (products with meats /poultry/ rice up to one day and fruit/vegetables two days)

If there is any food left in your baby’s bowl after a meal, throw it away. Food that has been in contact with saliva contains bacteria that will multiply if left.


You should never re-freeze baby food that has already been frozen and for that reason, it is best to divide the cooled food into smaller containers for freezing. A flexible ice-cube tray works great for this

  1. Fill each ice-cube section almost to the top with the baby food.
  2. Cover (with a lid or some wrap) and freeze until frozen.
  3. Clearly label and date a freezer bag/container.
  4. Once the ice cubes are fully frozen, quickly pop them all out and place into the labelled bag/container
  5. Return to the freezer.

Properly frozen, the food can be stored in the freezer for two months.

Thawing and Re-heating Baby Food

  • The best way to defrost purees it to refrigerate overnight and use within 24 hours. Never defrost on the countertop.
  • You can also reheat from frozen.
  • Reheat baby food until piping hot to kill off bacteria. Allow to cool and always test the temperature of the food before giving your baby.
  • You can reheat on the stovetop or microwave. Make sure to continually stir the food to ensure it is properly heated and to get rid of hot spots.
  • Only re-heat once. Leftover baby food, that has been reheated should be discarded.

Summary of Important Safety Tips

  • Always check expiry dates on packaged baby food and make sure packaging is not damaged/tampered.
  • Never feed a baby straight from a jar/pouch. Instead, transfer a small amount to a separate container.
  • If there is any food left in your baby’s bowl after a meal, throw it away.
  • Cool freshly cooked baby food as quickly as possible.
  • Freeze purees, as soon as there are cool, in small portions.
  • Never re-freeze meals that have already been frozen.
  • Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator and use within 24 hours.
  • When reheating food, make sure it is piping hot throughout and let it cool before giving your baby.
  • Do not re-heat food more than once.


  1. NSW Government Food Authority, Food Poisoning, Viewed 10th October 2020, <>

You May Also Like

  • Finger Foods for Babies
  • Why Babies Can’t Have Honey
  • Salt for Babies – How Much is Too Much?
Meet Amy

Amy Whiteford runs the blog Healthy Little Foodies. She is a mum to two, has a BSc (Hons) Food Science, PGDE Primary Education and a Certificate in Childhood Nutrition. She uses her experience and knowledge to create healthy and delicious recipes for kids. Explore the site for creative ideas, tips, and inspiration! Read more

How to raise a Healthy Little Foodie

Receive family friendly recipes, delivered weekly to your inbox, for FREE! And receive this FREE ebook - "How to Raise a Healthy Little Foodie"

Reader Interactions

Keeping your baby’s food safe

Eileen Haraminac, Michigan State University Extension -

Infants less than a year don’t have fully developed immune systems, because of this bacteria that may not cause illness in an adult or older child, can cause serious illness in infants and consequently they are often susceptible to food-borne illnesses.

Infants are often susceptible to food-borne illnesses. 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. Parents and caregivers can reduce this risk with safe food handling practices. It is always important to safeguard food for infants and youth Michigan State University Extension and offer these guidelines.

The most important practice you can do to keep food safe is to wash your hands. Your hands can pick up harmful pathogens and bacteria from tasks like diaper changing, feeding the dog, going to the bathroom or preparing raw meat or eggs. Always wash your hands after completing any of these tasks and especially when preparing infant foods.

For infants under six months old, the safe storage times for formula and expressed breast milk are between three to eight days in a refrigerator at 35 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees F. Breast milk can be frozen for up to six to 12 months at 0 degrees F. However, do not freeze formula. If you plan to give an infant water, it should be boiled water during the first three months of the infant’s life. Milk and formula for six to 12 month old babies may be stored for 48 hours in the refrigerator. The same three to eight day time limit applies for milk, and the “do not freeze” rule applies to formula.

  • For unopened cans of formula observe and follow the “use by” dates. For baby food, check “use by” dates when storing unopened jars. 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 plastic pouches: Discard any packages that are swelling or leaking.
  • Don’t feed your baby directly from the jar of baby food. Instead, put a small serving of food on a clean dish and refrigerate the remaining food in the jar. If the baby needs more food, use a clean spoon to serve another portion. Throw away any food in the dish that’s not eaten. If you do feed a baby from a jar, always discard any remaining food. The baby’s salvia mixed with the unused food in the jar can start producing bacteria.
  • When traveling, keep milk and formula cold (less than 41 degrees F) by transporting bottles in an insulated cooler with an ice pack
  • 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 degrees F) before feeding food to the infant.
  • Never allow opened jars of food to sit at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Solid baby foods that have been opened may be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of three days. Strained fruits and vegetables can be refrigerated for two to three days and stored in the freezer for six to eight months. Strained meats and eggs may be stored one day in the refrigerator and one to two months in the freezer. Meat and vegetable combinations are good for one to two days in the refrigerator and one to two months in the freezer.
  • Homemade baby foods will keep for one to two days in the refrigerator and three to four months in the freezer.
  • Please remember that 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 degrees F to prevent growth of bacteria.

Following these food safety practices will safeguard your baby’s food, keeping them safe from potential pathogens that cause food borne illness. 

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https://extension. To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Did you find this article useful?

How much and where to store baby food in jars?

Some manufacturers write detailed storage guidelines for sealed and unopened baby food right on the label. These rules must be observed, even if they differ from the rules for storing similar products from other manufacturers. If there is no detailed instruction, use the following recommendations.

Once again, we remind you that even unopened packaging must be stored in a dark, cool place. At temperatures above +25°C, products may deteriorate even in their original packaging. nine0003

Porridges for dilution:

  • The main enemy of dry mixes and porridges is moisture. Therefore, always make sure that the spoon for the porridge set is absolutely dry, and the bag itself is tightly closed after use;
  • Exhaust as much air as possible before closing to prevent moisture from being absorbed into the product;
  • Keep the opened bag of porridge in a dry place at room temperature. There is no need to store cereals in the refrigerator, they quickly become damp and spoil there; nine0012
  • Ready diluted porridge can be stored for no more than an hour or two. An opened package can be stored for 2-3 weeks (see manufacturer's instructions). But if after a few days you notice that the powder has become damp, lumps are noticeable in it - throw it away. Even if the product looks normal, but was opened more than three weeks ago, it is dangerous to feed it to a child. You can use leftovers in adult homemade cakes.

Choose cereals for your baby

Industrial purees

An unopened can can be stored at room temperature in a dark place. An opened jar of fruit and vegetable puree will live in the refrigerator for no more than a day, and only if you follow simple rules.

Select baby puree

Do not bottle feed your baby. Put the desired portion with a clean spoon into a separate container, close the jar with the rest and put it in the refrigerator. Reheat reserved food if necessary. You don't need to heat the whole jar.

If you fed your baby directly from a jar, the shelf life of such puree is only a few hours even in the refrigerator, since the baby's saliva and bacteria got into the food on the spoon. nine0003


The shelf life of meat puree after opening is only 24 hours, subject to the same rules. If you bought puree in a metal package, be sure to transfer it to a clean, dry jar and close the lid. It is undesirable to store opened puree in its original packaging and it is recommended to use it immediately. Closed - store in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Homemade cereals

Same rules as for diluted cereals. In the process of cooking, the porridge is ground with a blender and rubbed through a sieve. At this time, microorganisms get into the porridge from the air, so you can’t store such porridge for a long time. nine0003

Home-made puree

It is possible to increase the shelf life if the finished puree is poured into small sterilized containers, covered with cling film and immediately placed in the freezer. At -18°C, this puree can be stored for up to three months.


The finished product is stored in the refrigerator for no more than 6 hours, as bacteria have probably got into it during cooking. Do not freeze starchy puree (with potatoes, peas), as starch is destroyed during freezing. nine0003

Homemade fermented milk products

Made only from sterilized milk in a thermostat with sterility can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Mixed with fruits or juices, as well as additionally rubbed or otherwise in contact with air, they cannot be stored, they must be eaten immediately after preparation.

If the conditions for storing food for the baby are observed, his health will not be affected.

Until what age can a baby be fed formula

— Polina Alexandrovna, up to what age can you give your child powdered milk formula?

— If breastfeeding is not possible, then formula is the best feeding option for your baby. Often mothers are worried that the mixture is not useful enough, it can be harmful or dangerous. Of course, breast milk is the best food for a baby, but if it is not possible, then there is nothing wrong with the mixture, you should not worry.

To begin with, I would like to say that there is no point in finishing formula feeding as soon as possible. There is no such clear boundary after which it is impossible to feed the baby with a mixture. Usually, the transition from the mixture occurs smoothly, each baby is different. The minimum age up to which it is desirable to feed with an adapted milk formula is 1 year, and then we look at the child. nine0003

— How should complementary foods be combined with formula feeding? For example, if a baby at seven months refuses the formula and at the same time eats complementary foods? Is this normal or should I try to keep formula feeding?

- I can't say that this is normal. If you take a seven-month-old baby, then no matter what time they begin to introduce complementary foods, by this age he still receives a fairly limited set of products. Therefore, it is impossible to fill all the needs of the child's body with the help of complementary foods. Complementary foods are an intermediate step in the transition to the "adult" table, and the baby still has to receive a huge amount of nutrients from breast milk or from formula. Therefore, I do not recommend removing formula from the child's diet at such an early age. nine0003

– Polina Alexandrovna, when can you switch from formula to kefir and yogurt and how will this affect the child’s digestion?

- By and large, this is not a transition. When we introduce fermented milk products - yogurt or kefir - into complementary foods, the baby usually still receives enough nutrition in the form of a mixture (2-3 feedings). And replacing them with yogurt or kefir would be completely wrong. Despite the fact that these are fermented milk products and some of the proteins in them have already been broken down by the bacteria that are contained there, the protein load remains quite large. And at this age (they are introduced at about 8 months), it would be wrong to consider a fermented milk product several times a day as a complete source of nutrition. It is better to introduce dairy products into the child's diet as one of the additional types of complementary foods along with the milk mixture, which remains in the baby's diet for up to a year. And it is advisable to start not with kefir, but with yogurt - its acidity and composition will be more gentle for a small child. Kefir is better to enter by 9-10 months.

- Let's move on to the older kids. Why is it better for children from one year to use a mixture of the third formula, and not whole cow or goat milk?

  1. The protein composition of cow's and goat's milk differs significantly from that of breast milk and adapted formulas based on cow's or goat's milk.

    When a child consumes whole milk, there is a risk of getting an excess of proteins and microelements, which is not a very good factor - the child's body begins to intensively remove excess substances. A very large load falls on the kidneys, there is a violation of their function. Microelements are also excreted, which are few, but the child still needs them. nine0003

  2. Whole cow's and goat's milk is rich in some elements and proteins, and some contain quite little.

    For example, cow's milk is not very rich in iron and goat's milk is not very rich in folic acid. There is an imbalance - the child receives an excess of some substances and at the same time does not receive others. Therefore, adapted milk mixtures are more relevant.

  3. When buying whole cow's or goat's milk, you can't always be sure of the quality of the product. nine0084

    Even when buying on the market in "verified places", no one will give you a guarantee that this milk is really good. No one will talk about how goats and cows are kept, how milk was stored. But when you buy formula milk, you can be sure of its quality - baby food is produced under very strict control.

  4. Proper use of the mixture reduces the risk of bacterial growth.

    The undoubted convenience of mixtures is that they are usually sold in dry form and diluted immediately before use. Due to this, the risk of reproduction in the product of pathogenic bacteria, which lead to various problems of the baby's gastrointestinal tract, is reduced. nine0003

— When can a switch to pure cow's or goat's milk be recommended? It is believed that up to 3 years the child's digestive system does not tolerate them well.

— Yes, indeed, there is such an opinion. I completely agree with him and do not recommend transferring babies under three years old to adult goat or cow milk for the reasons indicated above. It must be understood that if proteins undigested by the baby are retained in the gastrointestinal tract, they remain in the intestinal lumen. And if these are proteins of the casein fraction, they can negatively affect it - irritate the intestinal walls and lead to discomfort. And large molecules that are not crushed by enzymes, but enter the bloodstream, can cause allergic reactions. nine0003

It is better not to risk and use those products that are recommended for babies under three years old, namely, special milk formulas. They are adapted to this age, fortified and contain the optimal ratio of proteins and microelements so that the baby gets what he needs, and at the same time does not eat anything extra.

- Is it true that “normal milk is not found now” and the mixture will be healthier for the baby?

— Yes, indeed, when we buy whole milk, it is not always possible to be sure that the milk is produced as they say. Infant formulas are produced under strict control, according to certain technologies. Therefore, of course, there is much more confidence in such products. nine0003

— Polina Alexandrovna, there is a myth that if you feed a child with milk formula for a long time, he will not learn to chew properly. Is this true?

— There is some truth in this. If we feed a child only formula and nothing else, then, of course, he will not learn to chew, because we do not offer him the kind of food that can be chewed. The baby will not learn to chew on its own without your help.

While formula feeding, we start the introduction of complementary foods with a homogeneous puree without pieces. There is nothing to chew there, but when the baby gets used to it, we gradually introduce food with small and soft pieces, then the pieces become larger and harder. And it is thanks to this that the child learns to chew. If, along with this food, the baby receives a milk formula, then, of course, he will not forget how to chew from what he eats from a bottle. Therefore, it is fundamentally important here not how long you feed the formula, but whether you offer the child pieces that he can learn to chew. nine0003

Read also
  • about what foods to start feeding your baby with and how to combine complementary foods and artificial feeding

— If a child of more than two years old eats formula with pleasure, is it necessary to worry and limit it? Or will he eventually give up on her?

- There is definitely no need to worry, there is nothing wrong with that. If a child receives a mixture adapted to his age (for two years this is the third stage), then, of course, this should not bother you. But you need to regulate the consumption of the mixture. nine0003

It is important to be aware that the mixture, although liquid, is a source of a huge amount of nutrients, it has a fairly high calorie content. So this is not a drink that can be consumed up to five times a day. Such a mixture can be equated with a meal and, accordingly, left or introduced into the child's diet adequately to his needs and age norms. A two-year-old child can be given formula for an afternoon snack instead of a dairy product. In this case, this is adequate nutrition adapted to the age of the baby, and he will only benefit from it. There will be harm if this product is abused. nine0003

— How many times a day should the child be fed the 3rd formula?

— Everything depends not only on the age of the child, but also on how much complementary foods he receives.

  • The child receives a sufficiently large amount of complementary foods.

    He receives the main part of his food during the day from complementary foods, there is one milk feeding at night. In this case, we leave the mixture for night feeding.

  • The child is accustomed to getting formula for the afternoon snack. nine0084

    It will not be a problem at all if he receives the mixture both day and night.

Always start from the needs of the child. For example, if the baby is one year old and he still has two or three milk feedings, then you do not need to strive to quickly get away from the mixture and reduce such feedings to a minimum. Do this when the child is comfortable. That is, there is no such thing that the mixture can be given only at night or only during the day.

— When does it come time to completely transfer the child to the "adult" table? How can a mother understand that the child’s body no longer needs the mixture and that he receives all the nutrients from other foods? nine0058

— You need to pay attention to a few things:

  • consult a pediatrician who can take into account the characteristics of the child and focus on his opinion;
  • it would be nice to count calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, although it is unlikely that mom will do this;
  • analyze how the baby eats, how much food and nutrients he receives with complementary foods.

Based on this, we look at when to move away from formula. But if a 2.5-year-old child uses formula once a day and this is not another extra meal, but the same afternoon snack with fruit or cookies, then everything is quite adequate. nine0003

– Polina Aleksandrovna, and at the end of the conversation: what is the use of MAMAKO ® Premium mixtures for children and up to what age should they be given?

  • Range 0 to 3 years

    – First of all, I would like to note that MAMAKO ® has a specially adapted formula for each age. For babies in the first six months of life - 1, from six months to a year - 2, and for babies older than 1 year - adapted milk drinks marked 3. This, of course, is a big plus, because babies get what they need at each specific age. nine0003

  • Saturation of mixtures with useful components

    - Secondly, the rich composition of the mixtures is a big plus. Every age child has different needs. Dry infant formulas MAMAKO ® contain both a complex that supports the development of the nervous system, a complex that protects the eyes, and pre- and probiotics that promote comfortable digestion. Thanks to this enrichment, of course, this mixture is quite useful for the baby. nine0003

  • Adequate protein composition

    - Thirdly, the protein composition of the mixtures is adapted to the specific age of the baby, which means there is no protein load on the kidneys.

  • Goat milk benefits

    - If we are talking about the basis of the mixture MAMAKO ® Premium - goat's milk, then, of course, it is more preferable for feeding babies than cow's milk. Goat milk proteins have a composition closer to breast milk proteins, and it is easier for a child to digest them than cow milk proteins. nine0003

There is no clear boundary when you need to remove the mixture from the child's diet.

Learn more