Storing opened baby food
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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How Long Does Baby Food Last After Opening It? How To Reduce Waste
I love buying baby food more than just about anything. The bright colors, the velvety purées, and the seemingly endless choices can keep me happily browsing the shelves until my shopping partner needs a diaper change. But no matter how meticulously I plan my grocery trips, I inevitably end up with extras that my baby doesn’t eat right away. It begs the question: How long does baby food last after being opened? Is it something you can save for later and feed to them the next day, or should you just toss it?
How long your baby food will last depends on a few things. For instance, are you saving veggies or meat-based products? Is it store-bought or homemade food? According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you can store opened (store-bought) fruit and vegetable baby food in the refrigerator for two days, but you should toss store-bought meat and egg products after one. Homemade baby foods can last one to two days when properly refrigerated. It’s important to check the packaging on every product, though, as the specific guidelines may vary depending on ingredients and packaging. Here’s the nitty gritty on the safety of baby food leftovers, as explained by pediatricians and baby nutrition experts.
How long does store-bought baby food last?Guido Mieth/Moment/Getty Images
“Unopened, most baby food should have 12 to 24 months of shelf life,” says Jason Jacobs, vice president of quality and technical services at Beech-Nut Baby Nutrition Company. Generally speaking, you can refrigerate opened store-bought fruit and vegetable baby food for two days, and opened store-bought meat and egg products for one day, per the FDA.
Keep in mind that storage recommendations differ depending on the packaging you choose. Those handy pouches? You should refrigerate baby food pouches within an hour of opening and toss them after 24 hours, no matter what they contain, according to Sarah Smith-Simpson, principal scientist of sensory and consumer insights at Nestlé Gerber.
Opened baby food should never be stored in the refrigerator if your baby has had any direct contact with it. The best way to save food is to spoon it onto a plate or bowl and let your baby take it from there. “If your baby’s saliva has touched it, then it should be thrown out right away,” advises Dr. Preeti Parikh, M.D., board-certified pediatrician and executive medical director at GoodRx. “The saliva from the baby's mouth can introduce harmful bacteria into the baby’s food,” she adds.
Remember, you can always check this stuff with your pediatrician — they're invested in the health of your baby, and foodborne illness presents serious risks. Many baby food manufacturers like Gerber offer 24-hour helplines, so if in doubt, give them a call.
You should also be sure you don't leave opened baby food out longer than two hours at room temperature, advises Jacobs. And if you're taking a picnic this summer, toss opened baby food after one hour if temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
How long does homemade baby food last?
“If homemade baby food is cooked and canned [or] sealed properly, it can last as long as 12 months in a glass jar [before opening],” Jacobs tells Romper. You can also store homemade baby foods in the freezer for three months. Once it’s been opened, the FDA advises using homemade baby food within one to two days.
The same rules apply to homemade baby food in that you should never save leftovers from your baby’s plate or bowl. Food that has come into contact with her mouth, spoon, or hands might harbor harmful bacteria that can flourish even in the fridge or freezer. “Leftovers should not be put back into the original container or stored separately in the fridge,” board-certified pediatrician Dr. Pierrette Poinsett, M.D., tells Romper. Leftovers should be thrown out.” Rule of thumb: If your baby has eaten directly from the bowl or jar, pitch the leftovers.
Can you freeze opened baby food?Shutterstock
If there has been no saliva introduced to the food, Parikh says you can freeze opened baby food. “Freezing temps allow less likelihood of bacteria growing, so you can store it for a longer time,” she says. “The most important criteria is that no saliva has been introduced to the food.”
However, Smith-Simpson does not recommend freezing store-bought baby food. “First, many containers and pouches that are traditionally used for baby foods don’t hold up if frozen,” she tells Romper. “Second, once frozen, baby food can separate and change textures.” If you are going to freeze baby food, do so by putting it in small freezer bags or ice cube trays. Do not use glass containers, Poinsett tells Romper, as “the glass can shatter, and tiny glass chips can get into the food.”
If you can't remember how long that tub of baby food has been sitting in the fridge — I know my memory is shot — err on the side of caution and throw it out. Otherwise, follow the package directions carefully or look to FDA guidance to let you know how long you can keep it around.
Jason Jacobs, vice president of quality and technical services at Beech-Nut Nutrition Company
Sarah Smith-Simpson, principal scientist of sensory and consumer insights at Nestlé Gerber
Dr. Preeti Parikh, M.D., board-certified pediatrician and executive medical director at GoodRx
Dr. Pierrette Poinsett, M.D., board-certified pediatrician and medical consultant for Mom Loves Best
Additional reporting by Mackenzie Sylvester.
This article was originally published on
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;
- 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; 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 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. 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 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.
Storage of baby food: terms and requirements for the storage of baby food
Contents of article
- Importance of proper storage of baby food
- Child Food Safety
- Rules for the storage of different types of food
- General storage rules
All parents want to see their baby cheerful, active and healthy. The harmonious development of the child largely depends on the correct and high-quality diet. The market for special baby food is striking in its diversity, and everyone strives to choose the best for the child. But for the safety of the baby and its full development, it is not enough to buy high-quality products. You also need to know how to properly store baby food. nine0003
The importance of proper storage of baby food
Warmth, care and attention are necessary for all children. But the child is gradually growing, while he needs to eat varied. And here the question arises: is it possible to save the cooked product until the next feeding? Here it is important to pay attention to the fact that the child's immune system is not yet strong enough, so the storage of baby food should be given special attention. The well-being and health of the baby often depends on the conditions in which and how long they are kept. nine0003
About the safety of baby food
In the Russian Federation there is a whole regulation on the safety of food for children - that's what it is called. This document sets out requirements for manufacturers and sellers of children's products related to the protection of children from toxic and chemical substances. This applies not only to baby food produced in our country, but also imported from abroad. That is why when buying infant formula, porridge, puree or other product, you can be sure of its quality and safety. The regulation requires not only correct production, but also packaging, storage of baby food and its disposal: nine0003
- Children's products are sold only through special stores or dedicated departments of supermarkets (therefore, it is better to buy them there or at least in a pharmacy).
- Expiration dates are set by the manufacturer, who is fully responsible for the quality of his product.
- Transportation of baby food is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the technical regulations for the transportation of any products. nine0090
At the same time, in the production of baby food, a number of conditions must be observed:
- Do not use highly acidic curd products.
- Do not add soy flour or grains contaminated with impurities.
- Offal is prohibited except for tongue, liver, heart and blood.
- Do not include in baby food beef with a fat content of more than 12%, pork - 32%, lamb - 9%.
- Do not use salted butter or products with a fat content below 82%*.
For a complete list of products prohibited in the production of baby food, you can follow the link attached to the article.
Rules for storing different types of food
Undoubtedly, breast milk is the most valuable and beneficial for a child. But there are situations when a mother needs to leave the house and she expresses milk in order to feed the baby on time. In addition, the child grows, over time he needs complementary foods. Expressed breast milk, formula-fed infant formula and complementary foods require a special approach, and it is very important to know the conditions and shelf life of baby food. nine0003
How long can open packages of infant formula and cereals be stored?
This is important!
The shelf life of opened dry infant formula or cereal is limited to 2-3 weeks, sometimes 4 weeks for cereals (depending on the manufacturer - read the packaging carefully). After its expiration, this product cannot be prepared for a child. Dry mixes should be stored in a place protected from light, but not in the refrigerator.
Open jars (packages) of fruit, vegetable and meat puree should only be stored in the refrigerator. And after opening the package, you can eat only within 12 hours **. After the expiration date or 12 hours after opening the package, the product must be disposed of, since it can no longer be eaten. Yes, not only for children, but also for adults. nine0002 Also, many are interested in how long home-made baby food, such as freshly prepared vegetable or fruit purees and juices, can be stored. There are two main options to use immediately after preparation (the best) or freeze. Such a product will also be suitable for eating for 12 hours, after which it will begin to deteriorate. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be stored in the freezer for up to six months, depending on the culture. However, even frozen products have expiration dates, after which it would be wiser to throw them away than eat them. nine0003
General storage rules
A huge variety and affordable cost of products greatly facilitate the worries of preparing complementary foods for children. But along with this, many parents face another problem: where to store baby food? So that the products do not lose their qualities from the influence of external factors, the following basic rules must be observed.
- Hygiene. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food and feeding your baby. The child's dishes should always be clean and stored separately in sterile conditions. nine0012
- Storage location. Dry cereals and mixtures should be stored in a ventilated cupboard out of the reach of children. In caring for a baby, mothers are loaded with various problems and worries. It is difficult for them to remember everything, so it is recommended to stick a label on each product with the date of its opening. This will help you meet the deadlines.
- When feeding a child with vegetable and fruit juices, puree or fermented milk products in jars, it should be remembered that after the integrity of the package, the use of its contents is allowed on average up to 12 - 24 hours. Different manufacturers may have different terms, read carefully what is written on the label! Be sure to ensure that the integrity of the packaging has not been violated even in the store. Most manufacturers on the jars have a special protection against opening. Fresh puree in jars emits a characteristic “pop” when opened, juices must have either a protective foil film or a special opening mechanism. Unopened jars of juices and purees can be stored in the cupboard, while dairy products should only be kept in the refrigerator. nine0012
- Baby food containers may be glass or plastic, but must be properly labeled to indicate the absence of toxic impurities in the composition of the material.
Food for a child is a source of energy and a guarantee of full growth and development. Therefore, it is very important not only to buy quality products, but also to learn how to properly store them. The health and well-being of the baby, the resistance of his body to the adverse effects of the external environment often depend on this.