baby food

Baby food is one of the most important foods (along with breast milk) that you can feed your child.

Baby Food DOs:

  • Check to see if there are any recalls for the food you have purchased.
    • This is especially important if you ‘stock up’ on food in advance or if someone has given it to you as a gift.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for preparing bottles before filling them with formula or milk.
    • Observe “use-by” dates on formula cans.
  • Check to see that the safety button on the lid of commercial baby-food jars is down.
    • If the jar lid doesn’t “pop” when opened, don’t use the product. Discard any jars with chipped glass or rusty lids and return to the store if possible.
  • Use detergent and hot water to wash all blenders, food processors, and utensils that come in contact with a baby’s foods.
    • Don’t forget to frequently wash the can opener.
    • Rinse well with hot water after washing.
  • Transport bottles and food in an insulated cooler when traveling with the baby.
    • Perishable baby food (milk, formula, or food) left out of the refrigerator or without a cold source for more than two hours should not be used.
    • Cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying.
    • Place the ice chest in the passenger compartment of the car. It’s cooler than the trunk.
  • Use frozen gel packs to keep food or bottles cold on long outings.
  • Freeze home-made baby food by putting the mixture into an ice cube tray.
    • One cube equals one serving. Cover with heavy-duty plastic wrap and place the tray in the freezer.
    • Once the food cubes are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag or airtight container and date it.
    • Store for up to three months (discard unused food after three months).
    • As an option, small jars can also be used for freezing. Leave about 1/2 inch of space at the top because food expands when frozen.

Baby Food DON’Ts:

  • Don’t make more formula than you will need.
    • Formula can become contaminated during preparation. If a large quantity of formula is prepared and not properly refrigerated, bacteria can multiply to very large numbers. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chances for foodborne illness.
    • Preparing formula in smaller quantities on an as-needed basis greatly reduces the possibility of contamination. If using powder, reconstitute immediately before feeding. If using liquid concentrates or ready-to-feed products, follow label instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  • Don’t put a bottle back in the refrigerator if the baby doesn’t finish it.
    • Harmful bacteria from a baby’s mouth can be introduced into the bottle during feeding; they can grow and multiply even after refrigeration (some bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures) and reheating.
    • The temperature that’s needed to kill harmful bacteria is extremely high for consumption by a baby. Also, it’s not a good idea to repeatedly reheat formula because lots of nutrients can be lost.
  • Don’t feed a baby from a jar of baby food and then put it in the refrigerator.
    • Saliva on the spoon may contaminate the remaining food. Instead, put a serving size on a dish. Refrigerate the food remaining in the jar. Throw away the food in the serving dish that’s not eaten.
  • Don’t use honey as a sweetener to entice babies to drink water from a bottle.
    • Honey isn’t safe for children less than a year old. It can contain the Clostridium botulinum organism that could cause serious illness or death.
  • Don’t give raw or unpasteurized milk or unpasteurized fruit or vegetable juice to infants or young children.
    • Unpasteurized milk or juice may contain harmful bacteria. Unpasteurized juices are normally found in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores, health-food stores, cider mills, or farm markets.
    • Such juices must have this warning on the label: This product has not been pasteurized and therefore may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.
  • Juices that are fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass, such as at farmer’s markets, at roadside stands, or in some juice bars, may not be pasteurized, or otherwise treated to ensure their safety.
    • Warning labels are not required on these products. Young children should avoid these juices.
  • If you can’t tell if a juice has been processed to destroy harmful bacteria, either don’t use the product or boil it to kill any harmful bacteria
  • Don’t leave formula out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
    • Harmful bacteria can grow rapidly in food at room temperature. Discard formula that’s been left out for more than two hours.
  • Don’t place dirty diapers in the same bag with bottles or food.
    • Harmful bacteria from a dirty diaper can spread to baby’s food.
  • Don’t give infants “teas” brewed from star anise.
    • Brewed “teas” containing star anise have been associated with illnesses affecting infants. The illnesses ranged from serious neurological effects, such as seizures, to vomiting, jitteriness, and rapid eye movement.