How long can baby food stay out
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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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.
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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How to store baby food?
Food plays a huge role in the harmonious development of the child. Mothers are usually interested in the selection of the first baby food long before the introduction of complementary foods. We will devote today's article to the rules for storing baby food.
We've put together a few hacks to help you figure out how to keep different forms of baby foods fresh.
Prepared baby food storage rules
For those who don't bother with cooking their own complementary foods, things are a little easier. Product features and packaging method dictate the storage rules:
• Dry mixes and cereals are designed for long-term storage provided the packaging is intact. After opening the pack, the shelf life of the product is no more than three weeks. Manufacturers recommend storing cereals and mixtures packaged in jars in their original packaging. If you purchased the product in a cardboard box or in a bag, it is advisable to pour the contents into an airtight container. Food grade plastic boxes are perfect. It is safe to store even baby food in such containers, as they are made of materials that are specially designed to come into contact with food. The container itself should be stored in a dark, dry place.
• Liquid and semi-liquid baby food (yogurts, juices, fruit drinks) can be stored for no more than five days from the date of its manufacture. An important storage condition is the temperature from 0 to 5 °C. After opening the package, dairy and sour-milk products should be consumed within a day. Fruit drinks, vegetable and fruit juices can be stored for up to three days.
• Canned food (mashed potatoes, pates, soups, cereals), depending on the composition, has a clearly defined shelf life. To prevent the product from oxidizing, after opening it must be stored in a tightly closed container. Opened baby food should be consumed within 24 hours.
Rules for storing homemade preparations for a children's table
There are two options for homemade preparations - use them immediately, or freeze them .
If we are talking about freezing, then there are several basic rules for the preparation of products:
• Fish products are frozen in a double mill, processed in front into portions of small pieces. Freeze more often in airtight boxes, resistant to low temperatures of the freezer. Meat freezing can be saved for about nine months, and ribna - only three.
• Vegetables and fruits can also be frozen in containers. In the freezer, the stench can lie no more than fate.
Defrost preparations for children's meals only in the refrigerator. Rizke heating can help the product of the greater part of the brown speeches.
Now you know all the secrets of saving a child's meal!
How much and where to store baby food in jars?
Some manufacturers write detailed storage guidelines for closed and unopened baby food packages 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.
Porridges for breeding:
- 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;
- Try to release as much excess air as possible before closing, so that moisture from it is not absorbed into the product;
- Keep an open 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;
- 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.
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.
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.