How long can baby food sit out
Storing Baby Food (Store Bought and Homemade)- Healthy Little Foodies
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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.
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
- 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
- Dividing into smaller portions
- 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
- Fill each ice-cube section almost to the top with the baby food.
- Cover (with a lid or some wrap) and freeze until frozen.
- Clearly label and date a freezer bag/container.
- Once the ice cubes are fully frozen, quickly pop them all out and place into the labelled bag/container
- 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.
- NSW Government Food Authority, Food Poisoning, Viewed 10th October 2020, <https://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/consumer/food-poisoning>
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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
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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 Foodsafety.gov 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 https://extension.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https://extension. msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit https://extension.msu.edu/experts, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
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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
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.
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
It is possible to increase the shelf life if the finished puree is poured into small sterilized containers, covered with cling film and immediately put 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. It is impossible to 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.
How long and how to store baby food
The type and quality of a child's nutrition in the first months and years of life determines his health and proper development. But getting quality products is only part of the story. It is important to know how much baby food can be stored so that its subsequent use is healthy and safe for the baby.
Breastfeeding is considered to be the best for a small child, but the mother cannot always be present, so it is necessary to store expressed breast milk in the refrigerator. It can then be reheated and used for feeding. nine0003
As the child grows, various milk porridges, fruit, vegetable, and then meat purees, etc. are gradually introduced into his diet. the quality and type of food consumed. Therefore, the question of how and where to store baby food in a family with babies should be paramount.
You should carefully study the manufacturer's recommendations on the rules for storing products of this type in a sealed bag and after opening it. And strictly adhere to them. It is necessary to observe the term and conditions of storage of baby food only according to the instructions on the package. It is necessary to adhere to the instructions even if it differs from the recommendations of other manufacturers of similar products. nine0003
If there is even a slight doubt about the quality of yogurt or vegetable puree, it is thrown away without much thought so as not to expose the baby to the danger of getting an eating disorder or, worse, serious poisoning.
Breast milk should be stored after expression in special sterile containers. It can be kept in bottles, cups, containers or plastic bags sold in pharmacies. nine0003
Breast milk containers must be graduated, sterile and easy to use. A sealed lid is a must.
The shelf life of breast milk after expression at +19°C to +22°C should not exceed 10 hours. At +22°С - +25°С this time is reduced to 4 - 6 hours.
At +25°C and above, breast milk can be stored for no longer than 2-3 hours.
In the main compartment of the refrigerator, you can leave the product for 24 hours, and if it is frozen - up to 3 - 4 months. At the same time, the freezer door should not be opened too often and for a long time. nine0003
Porridges for breeding
The shelf life of dry cereals and mixtures is quite long if the integrity of the package is not compromised. When products were purchased in cans, even after they have been opened, mixtures can be stored in their “native” packaging.
If dry mixes or cereals are packaged in bags or boxes, after they are opened, the contents are poured into another container. It is better if these are food containers with a tight-fitting lid.
How long baby food can be kept open depends on the conditions in which it is stored. Usually this period is 2 - 3 weeks. But if the product becomes damp or lumps form in it, it is better to throw it away immediately.
When the appearance of the porridge does not cause concern, but it is known that the package was opened more than 3 weeks ago, it is no longer possible to give it to the child. In extreme cases, it can be used in baking if it is intended for an adult.
Powdered infant formula should be stored at a low humidity level, protected from light. Dampness is the biggest enemy of such products. The measuring spoon for dosing the mixture should always be dry. And the packaging must be tightly sealed every time. At the same time, they try to squeeze out the remaining air from the bag so that the dry product does not absorb the moisture that is present in it. nine0003
Dry baby food should not be kept in the refrigerator as it will quickly become damp and spoil. After cooking porridge, it can be stored for 1 - 2 hours, no more.
Where to store baby food in jars
The storage temperature of baby puree in a closed jar should be up to +12°C, and after opening the container - +4°C.
If this product is not refrigerated, it will keep for up to 6 hours after opening the package at temperatures up to +20°C. And when the temperature rises - up to 4 hours. nine0003
Even a factory-sealed jar of juice or puree should be placed in a cool, dark place. The product will deteriorate before the warranty period if stored at +26°C or more.
Once opened, puree can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, provided that feeding is not done directly from the jar. Be sure to set aside the required amount in a cup with a clean spoon. The remaining mass is tightly closed with a lid and put on the shelf of the refrigerator. A serving of food that has been set aside is warmed up in a separate container, but do not heat the whole food jar .
If the baby is fed directly from the container containing the puree, its shelf life will be reduced to a few hours, even in the cold. This is due to the development of bacteria that enter the jar along with the child's saliva.
Baby meat puree can be stored in unsealed packaging for up to 1 day. Storage conditions are the same as for vegetable and fruit products. At the same time, it should be transferred from a metal jar to a dry, sterile glass container and tightly closed. nine0003
It is undesirable to leave meat products in the original jar after opening, even for a day. And in the form closed by the manufacturer, it is stored in accordance with the instructions.
Homemade cereals, purees and juices
This category of baby food products has the same storage rules as diluted cereals.
Cooked porridge is crushed with a blender until a homogeneous mass is obtained, and then rubbed through a sieve. During the cooking process, various microbes from the air enter it, so the shelf life of homemade porridge for a baby is very short. It is generally undesirable to store home-made food addressed to young children (maximum - 2 hours). Juice, vegetable or fruit puree will quickly become dark as a result of oxidation. Therefore, if the child did not eat something right away, the product should be thrown away, given to the most voracious adult family member, or frozen. nine0003
- Ready-made purees or juices are frozen in portions in small sterile containers with a tight-fitting lid or covered with cling film.
- Homemade puree can be frozen at -18°C and stored for up to 3 months.