How long is homemade baby food good
Storing Baby Food | Happy Baby Organics
AndieM.Ed., RD, LDN, CLC, RYT-200
Read time: 6 minutes
How to store homemade baby food and store-bought pureed foods
How to thaw and re-heat pureed baby food
How to help prevent bacterial contamination of baby foods
Whether you buy baby food at the market or make it from scratch, it’s important to know how to store, prepare, and reheat your baby’s food correctly and safely.
Store-bought baby food usually comes in a glass jar, plastic container, or pouch and usually does not require refrigeration or freezing before opening. These foods are manufactured to be shelf-stable, like any other pantry item (think beans, soups, or condiments). They can typically stay fresh on the shelf for 1 to 2 years, but always check expiration dates carefully.1Baby food storage guidelines
Pureed store-bought baby vegetables and fruits can stay in the refrigerator for up to 48 to 72 hours and in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.
Pureed store-bought meat, poultry, or fish can be refrigerated for 24 hours after cooking and frozen for 1 to 2 months.
Homemade baby foods will keep for 24 to 48 hours in the refrigerator and for 1 to 2 months in the freezer.2
Be sure to refrigerate freshly cooked baby food within two hours as bacteria will start to grow at room temperature after those two hours are up. Note that your refrigerator should be kept at, or below, 40 degrees F. Any warmer and illness-causing bacteria can thrive and quickly multiply.3
Want some tips on feeding your little one or on making baby food? The Happy Baby Experts are infant feeding specialists and here to help (for free!) with questions about starting solids and picky eating, as well as formula and breastfeeding. Chat now!Can I feed baby directly from the jar or pouch?
If you feed your little one directly from the jar or pouch, all leftovers must be thrown out after the meal. Saliva from baby’s mouth gets back into the jar or pouch via the spoon, this introduces bacteria that can quickly multiply and contaminate the food.
If you know baby won’t finish it all, spoon a serving in a separate bowl and feed from that. Then you can refrigerate the jar or pouch of remaining food for an upcoming meal!4
Read more: How Can I Make my own Pureed Baby Food?How to warm refrigerated or shelf-stable foods and thaw frozen foods:
Microwave: Warm up store-bought food directly in its glass jar or transfer the food – including previously frozen purees – into a separate glass bowl (never heat up pureed food in a plastic container or pouch). Reduce the microwave to 50% power (or use the defrost feature) and then warm the puree in 15 second increments.4 Check and stir the food thoroughly each time to ensure even heating and to eliminate any heat pockets that may burn your baby’s mouth.
Stovetop: Warm your baby’s store-bought food or thaw frozen baby food on the stovetop by placing the food in a small saucepan and warming on low heat until the puree is the same consistency and no longer frozen. To preserve the nutrients, heat only as much as is necessary.
Submersion Method: Thaw frozen baby food by placing the pureed cubes in a plastic bag and then inside a bowl filled with hot or warm water. This method allows for even warming but does take a little longer – figure about 10-20 minutes for the food to thaw fully. 5 Many parents also use the submersion method to thaw frozen breastmilk.
Refrigerator: Thaw frozen baby food simply by transferring it to the refrigerator.5 This process will take 4-12 hours so plan ahead (transferring the food the night before it’s needed to allow thawing overnight is a good rule of thumb). Homemade frozen baby food that’s been thawed can safely stay in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Be sure to keep thawed baby food in a sealed container to avoid contamination.
DO NOT let baby food thaw for long periods of time on the counter at room temperature. This will allow bacteria to grow. 5
Sanitize or thoroughly clean standard ice cube trays before spooning the puree directly into each cubed section. You could also cover a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper and spoon small ‘mounds’ of puree onto the sheet to freeze.
Cover the tray with plastic wrap and place into the freezer.
Once the cubes or ‘mounds’ are solidly frozen, pop them out and store them in plastic freezer bags.
Label the bags with the type of baby food as well as the date. This allows you to use it before it expires. (Remember: store-bought fruits and veggies can be frozen for 6 to 8 months, while meats, poultry, and all home-made baby food can be frozen for 1 to 2 months).
When your baby is ready to eat, grab an individual portion of the cubes you want to use and thaw!
Ice cube trays are not only convenient, they are also incredibly helpful in portioning out homemade baby food. The cubes are roughly one ounce each, so you can easily measure the amount of food your baby is eating and thaw small portions at a time to reduce waste.Do not freeze food in glass containers
Glass baby food jars (or any glass container) are not meant to be frozen. Frozen glass can burst or cause tiny fractures in the glass leaving behind microscopic shards that you may never see.Freeze baby food in safe “ok to freeze” plastic containers instead.Consider a deep freezer if you want to store purees long-term
For best results, frozen foods should remain at a constant sub-zero temperature. A deep freezer is better equipped to handle this temperature control as opposed to your regular freezer, which may fluctuate with you opening and closing the door often.Throw away leftover food that’s already been reheated
You cannot reheat (or re-freeze) baby food more than once, so once you’ve thawed a frozen puree, toss any leftovers. This rule also applies to breastmilk. So if you’re using breastmilk to thin out your homemade baby food purees, add the milk while it’s fresh!
Read more: Safe Storage of Pumped Breastmilk
You can also use formula to thin a puree. Do not freeze formula in its original can or bottle, but once mixed into a puree it’s ok to freeze. Freezing formula causes a separation of the fats from the liquid, which may negatively impact the texture and quality.6Let’s Chat!
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday through Friday, from 8am–6pm ET. Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!
For more on this topic check out the following articles
How do I Choose Store Bought Baby Food?
Food Safety for Babies and Toddlers
Everything You Need to Know About How to Prepare and Store Infant Formula
Avoid Giving Your Child Too Much Sugar And Salt
How Long Does Homemade Baby Food Last?
As your little one grows and develops, they will continue to reach new milestones along the way. One of the most memorable (and messy!) experiences you will have with your new baby is their introduction to baby food! Many parents prefer to make their child’s baby food at home, as opposed to purchasing pureed foods in-store.
Although the possibility may seem daunting, it can actually be quick and easy! Making homemade baby food also has tremendous benefits for your little one (and you)! Not only will your baby benefit from more variety and textures, fresh tasting food, and more nutrition, but you’ll be able to have more control over what your baby is eating and can easily keep track of the ratio of fruits and veggies their having.
Shopping trips are reduced, and buying fresh fruits and veggies in bulk to make your own baby food can produce more ounces of fresh purees than store-bought baby food jars can offer. However, without a printed expiration date on a jar, it is important to pay attention to how long homemade baby food lasts! Here are some guidelines for keeping your little one’s purees safe and fresh:Refrigerated - 48 Hours
If you are storing your homemade baby food in the refrigerator, freshly made baby food will last in the fridge up to 48 hours. However, if you store purees in individual containers for quick, single-use servings, this storage method can be a convenient option (as it will eliminate the need for defrosting or any other extra steps).
Be sure to write the date on the containers, to ensure that they are being thrown out after the 48-hour window closes! If you do not plan to freeze your homemade baby food, we would suggest that you make the puree on a day to day, or every other day, basis. Also, never feed your baby directly from the original storage container and then re-store. Saliva and other bacteria can contaminate the food if you do so.Frozen - 3 -6 Months
For optimal quality and nutrient retention, it is suggested to keep homemade baby food in the freezer for a maximum of 3 months. However, it is still safe for your baby to eat for up to 6 months. The ideal way to freeze homemade baby food is by using the Infantino Squeeze Station™.
The Squeeze Station makes the task of making homemade baby food even easier by offering an easy container for immediate use, or storage for later in the fridge or freezer. Convenience is key when you’re a mom on-the-go and the Squeeze Station is the perfect tool to help with all of your baby food needs.
Another way to store frozen baby food is to put your homemade baby food in ice cube trays covered in plastic wrap, and then pop them out into freezer Ziploc bags once frozen. Be sure to label with the type of food and the date it was made. This method can help to keep track of portioning because every ice cube sized frozen baby food puree is approximately one ounce, which helps you measure how much food your baby is actually eating! You can also defrost one cube at a time, which creates less waste than traditional baby-feeding methods.
Whether you choose to refrigerate or freeze your homemade purees, you may find it convenient to make your own baby food pouches and our Squeeze Station can help with just that. Homemade baby food pouches can be stored in the fridge or the freezer, and they follow the shelf life and freshness guidelines as homemade baby food that is stored in other containers. If baby food pouches seem like the best option for your family, whether at home or on-the-go, Infantino has some great products that can help!Squeeze Station™
You can make and store your own convenient food pouches with the Infantino Squeeze Station. It's quick and easy! Just pour in the purée and press down to fill. The non-skid base stays secure on your counter, and the soft press ensures a stable grip. Plus, the station is dishwasher safe, so clean up is simple! The Squeeze Station is perfect for homemade baby food and smoothies, as well as store-bought applesauce, yogurt, and purées. Your little one can enjoy the pouches right away, or you can store them in the refrigerator or freezer for later. These are perfect for making on-the-go feeding a breeze! The Squeeze Station also includes 10 Squeeze Pouches™.50-Pack Squeeze Pouches™
You can also purchase more squeeze pouches in packs of 50! Use the Fresh Squeezed® refill pack of pouches with the Squeeze Station™ to create homemade food pouches. The pack includes 50 food-safe, disposable pouches, and 50 kid-safe caps. Each pouch holds up to 4 ounces of food and features a clear window to see the food inside. The rear window also has a space to write dates, name, and the food type. All of the pouches are freezer safe and BPA, PVC, and phthalate free!Reusable Squeeze Pouch™
This environmentally friendly, reusable food pouch can also be used with homemade purees, smoothies, applesauce, yogurt and more. Use the screw top to pour in your child’s favorite snack. Perfect for The secure, screw top prevents leaks and messes. Plus, the Reusable Squeeze Pouch includes a handy clip for attaching to bags and strollers. This silicone pouch is easy to clean, dishwasher safe and BPA, PVC, and phthalate free.
We hope that these freshness guidelines will help you along your homemade baby food journey, keeping your little ones healthy, happy, and safe!
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.
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;
- Try to let out as much excess air as possible before closing, so that moisture from it is not 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;
- 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 needed. 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. It is impossible to freeze starchy puree (with potatoes, peas), as starch is destroyed during freezing.
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 and how long to store baby puree
When the baby grows up, in addition to breast milk, he is given various vegetable, fruit or meat purees. The proper development of the child's body will depend on the quality of complementary foods. Therefore, you should buy only fresh products from time-tested manufacturers. Where and how to store baby food puree, you can read on the jars. But it will not be superfluous to familiarize yourself with the general rules for storing food for babies in order to prevent poisoning, indigestion and other negative consequences of eating low-quality or expired products.
How to choose
When buying baby puree for future use, you must strictly follow the storage rules specified by the manufacturer. But if after opening the jar there are doubts about the quality of the product, you should not give it to a child. Better to play it safe and go for fresh mashed potatoes than put the child at risk of poisoning.
High-quality fruit or vegetable puree should not contain any additives other than water and, moreover, preservatives.
Making a choice in favor of one or another type of product, first of all, its useful qualities are evaluated. Exotic fruits, for example, will not bring as much benefit to the children's body as an apple or a pumpkin.
The fruits and vegetables best absorbed by a child are those grown in the area where he lives. Therefore, when choosing baby puree, preference is given to products of local manufacturers. More natural and useful for the digestive system of our child will be puree from ordinary carrots, apples, pears, zucchini than from mangoes, bananas and other exotic fruits.
There are three types of baby puree packages:
- cardboard (Tetra Pak).
It is impossible to say exactly which package is better. Each of them has its own disadvantages and advantages.
- In glass container the product can be stored without fear that this material will somehow change the composition of the baby puree. At the same time, the small volume of the jar (100 ml) allows you to use its contents without residue. And in this case, you no longer have to store baby puree.
- In metal containers the shelf life of baby puree will be longer. In addition, it will not break in case of careless handling.
- Baby food in carton - the most budget option, designed for families with low incomes. But this does not mean that the contents of the package are worse. Just monitor the safety of the product should be more carefully.
Pre-sealed baby food containers can be stored even at room temperature. The manufacturer creates a vacuum environment inside each of them, which minimizes the development of harmful microorganisms. But if the storage of baby puree occurs without a refrigerator, the product is placed in a cool place, closed from sunlight. It should be understood that when heated, the contents of the containers will deteriorate faster than the period specified by the manufacturer.
Tetra Pak carton packs are as convenient as glass or metal packs. In it, the product can also be stored for a long time. Unlike a glass jar, cardboard does not let in sunlight and is cheaper.
The disadvantage of cartons is their relative fragility. They are easily deformed and may lose their tightness during transportation.
While still in the store, you need to read the information that is present on the container with baby food. First of all, pay attention to the date of release of the product, and its expiration date.
At home, prepare baby puree immediately before use. Storage is contraindicated for it, since cooling and subsequent heating deprive the product of useful properties.
How long can homemade puree be kept when there is no other way out? No more than 24 hours in the refrigerator, and within 3 months in the freezer.
To freeze the product, it is laid out in ice molds and sent to the freezer. After solidification, the cubes are transferred to special freezer bags or food containers, after which the date must be indicated on them. Then the product is sent to the freezer for 3 months.
When preparing and freezing baby puree, use only sterile containers and cutlery.
Product can be defrosted on the refrigerator shelf or at room temperature.
Opened baby puree
The answer to the question of how long open baby puree can be stored can be found on the product packaging.
Most manufacturers do not recommend storing baby puree after opening in general . Or it allows it to be in the cold for no longer than 1 day. This will allow you to divide the product into 2 feedings, but you should not heat it directly in the jar. The necessary part of the puree is transferred to another container and heated. If you heat the entire jar, the shelf life of the baby puree that remains in it will be reduced to a few hours.
The temperature at which baby puree should be stored after opening should be between 0°C and +4°C. If you keep it in a warmer place, it will lose quality after 5 - 6 hours. The product cannot be kept on the refrigerator door due to constant temperature changes every time the door is opened.
- In closed baby puree can be stored at a maximum temperature of +22°C
- A after opening at a maximum of +4°C.
You can read the manufacturer's instructions for how much puree can be stored in the refrigerator, but if the jar is opened, it will not be possible to give the product to the child in a day.
Out of the refrigerator, opened baby food will retain its quality for up to 6 hours at temperatures up to +20°C, and no longer than 4 hours in an even warmer place.
If your baby consumes low-quality products, it can lead to serious consequences, so you need to know how to store baby purees in jars (other packaging).
- Closed baby food containers should be kept in dry, dark places. These are various closed cabinets, pantries, etc. There should not be heat sources nearby, otherwise bacteria will begin to actively develop even in closed packaging.
- Arrange the jars so that those with the earliest expiration date are closest. Accordingly, they must be used first.
- Lids on containers must always be tightly closed.
Do not feed your baby directly from the bottle if you plan to continue to store the contents. When children's saliva gets inside the container, the development of microorganisms occurs.