Few things are more frustrating than grabbing your baby’s lovingly prepared, homemade dinner from the fridge, only to realize it smells funky. You take another whiff and confirm: Yup, it’s spoiled. Not only will you have to toss the food you slaved over into the garbage, now you’ll need to scramble for a backup plan.
As you transition your baby to solid foods, of course you don’t want to spend time prepping, cooking and pureeing a healthy meal only to have it go to waste. With all that effort, you want to make sure your baby’s homemade food lasts as long as possible. Learn more about storing homemade baby food and how to follow proper baby food safety protocol.
What You’ll Need
First things first: You’ll want to stock up on a few baby food freezer trays that let you spoon liquid directly into molded cubes and cover with a silicone lid. You’ll also want a baby blocks food storage set which includes individual cups that can be inserted into a freezer tray for easy storage. These small-portion containers are ideal for storing homemade baby food from a food-safety perspective, since once your baby’s mouth comes in contact with the food, you have to throw out what isn’t eaten to avoid bacteria contamination.
As a general rule, your baby food containers should be airtight, shatter-proof and leakproof. And don’t forget dishwasher safe! There are plastic and glass options. Plastic is great for on-the-go since it’s lighter. These glass containers are made from borosilicate glass, which is thermal shock resistant, meaning it can go directly from the freezer to the microwave or oven without having to thaw. The great thing about choosing quality storage containers is that they last: You’ll find uses for them long after your baby becomes a toddler and beyond.
How to Pour and Store Baby Food
After you blend your homemade concoction, spoon it into a container using a soup ladle. (If you’re daring, you might try pouring it directly from the blender, but we take no responsibility for the mess that may ensue!) Filling the cup all the way to the top can help prevent freezer burn, but there’s nothing inherently unhealthy about those little ice crystals if they do form. Once cups have been filled and sealed, label each container with the type of food and date you made it. That’s important because it will help you tell, several weeks down the road, whether or not that food is still OK to serve your baby.
So just how long does homemade baby food last for, anyway?
Follow these basic guidelines to be sure bacteria growth is kept to a minimum:
- Freezer: Three to six months (ideally try to use within three months)
- Refrigerator (meat, poultry, fish, eggs): 24 hours
- Refrigerator (fruits, veggies): 48 hours
Key Food Safety Tips
To ensure you’re serving your baby the safest, most nutritious food possible, practice these cooking tips from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
- Make sure your tools, cutting boards, pots and food storage containers are clean.
- Properly store your fruits and veggies, and then scrub produce before using it.
- Remove pits and seeds.
- Cook food until it’s very tender (you should be able to slide a fork or knife straight through the center like butter).
- Mash or puree fruit in its own juice (don’t add sugar or honey to sweeten).
- Cook meats, poultry, and eggs until they are well done. The USDA's recommended safe minimum internal temperatures are as follows: For beef, veal, lamb and pork (steaks and roasts) cook to 145°F; fish: 145°F; ground beef: 160°F; and poultry: 165°F.
- Thaw frozen foods in the microwave right before using in cooking in order to prevent any bacterial growth that might occur from leaving food on the counter to defrost.