How to prepare baby food safely
Why is food hygiene important?
Cleanliness and food freshness is important once your baby starts to eat solid food. This is because your baby’s immune system is less developed than yours. His tummy is more vulnerable to bugs and infections.
It’s best to give your baby his first foods at six months. That’s the Department of Health’s advice.
If you choose to start your baby on solids before six months, you should take extra care. Sterilise feeding spoons until your baby is six months old and wash your baby’s bowls and feeding equipment in a dishwasher or very hot water. Use a clean tea towel or paper towels to dry them.
How clean do I need to be?
You don’t need to make your kitchen totally sterile. There’s even evidence that our houses are too clean these days! However, it makes sense to follow these basic hygiene tips:
- Wash your hands before you start to prepare meals for your baby.
- Wash highchairs, bibs, and eating areas in hot, soapy water.
- If your baby is eating finger foods or eating with his hands, wash his hands before he eats his meals.
- Change kitchen cloths and tea towels often.
How can I serve food safely?
When reheating baby food, make sure it’s piping hot throughout. You should be able to see steam coming out. Let it cool down before you give it to your baby. Dab a tiny bit of food on the inside of your wrist or back of your hand to see if it’s a comfortable temperature before giving it to him.
Defrost frozen food thoroughly before you cook it, unless the food label says otherwise. The safest way to do this is to leave it in the fridge overnight or use the defrost setting on a microwave.
For purees that don’t need reheating, such as fruit purees, check that these are fully defrosted before giving them to your baby. Never refreeze something that has been defrosted.
Also, remember these tips:
- If you’re using a microwave to heat up food, stir it well to avoid hot spots.
- Don’t reheat your baby’s food more than once.
- Cook eggs until the yolk and white are solid.
- Cook meats until they are no longer pink in the middle.
- Wash and peel fruit and vegetables, such as apples and carrots.
- Don’t give anything with raw shellfish to your baby
How can I store food safely?
Follow these tips to make sure you store your baby’s food safely:
- If you’re making batches of your baby’s food in advance, cool them quickly, ideally within 90 minutes. Then store them in the fridge. Freeze anything that won’t be used within 24 hours.
- If your baby leaves any food in his bowl after a meal, throw it away. Food that has been in contact with saliva contains bacteria that will multiply if left.
- Check the best-before and use-by dates on food that you give to your baby. If you have uneaten food left in a jar, you can keep it in the fridge for 24 hours after it’s been opened. However, throw away leftovers that have already been heated up once and jars you have fed your baby from.
- Make sure the seals on cans and jars haven’t been broken.
- Check the temperature of your fridge. It should be between zero degrees C and five degrees C. Buy a fridge thermometer from a hardware shop if you haven’t got one.