Tips for Safely Preparing and Storing Food for Little Ones

As parents, the quality of the food your children and infants consume matters. You can take several steps to make sure you are being as safe as possible when preparing and storing food for your family.

It’s important to stay clean when preparing food for babies and kids. Always wash your hands, utensils, appliances, and sinks as often as possible. Use soap and water or other kid-friendly cleansers when cleaning. Make sure to use separate cutting boards when preparing your own baby food.

(images from Eating the Rainbow)

If you’re browsing the grocery store for baby food or ingredients, it is imperative that all containers you pick out are completely sealed. The can lids should be secure and not bulging, leaking, or dented on the seam or rim. Plastic and paper products should likewise be completely sealed and not torn.

In addition, check the sell-by and use-by dates on each package. The sell-by date is used by the store to indicate the shelf life of the product. The item on the shelf should be sold by a particular date, but this does not mean it can’t be consumed after that date. In contrast, the use-by (or sometimes best-by) date indicates when the consumer should use the product. Remember to buy food in reasonable quantities according to your family size. Adjust your supply amount to your schedule and needs.

After you’ve purchased baby food, check the storage instructions on the product. Each brand and product type varies so it is crucial to verify each time. If the storing instructions are not on the container, you can look up the product on the brand website or contact the brand for more information.

One of the best ways to store homemade baby food is to freeze it. The recommended fridge temperature is 40°For below and 0°F or below for your freezer. Check your fridge and freezer thermometer and adjust if needed.

You can freeze baby food in clean ice-cube trays. Do not use the same ice-cube tray for other foods or purposes. Cover the tray with plastic wrap or a sheet before putting it in the freezer. After the baby food has frozen in the tray, you can transfer it to another freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Do not transfer the food to glass jars or store-bought baby food containers. Unless the jars are labeled freezer-safe, they can be dangerous to store. Label the freezer-safe container with the type of food, date, and quantity.

The best time to consume frozen baby food is 1–3 months. Each ice cube is about 1 oz., which gives you a measured food quantity for your baby. To thaw, place the frozen bag or container in a bowl with warm water. Replace the water as needed. Transfer the baby food to a serving dish and place it in your fridge overnight. A microwave can also be used to thaw by transferring the baby food to a microwave-safe container and using the DEFROST setting. Occasionally stop heating to stir the food.

Finally—and most importantly—serve the food to your baby or child with love and care! The thought and effort put into the preparation and storage of food are vital to their development.

A variety of our books feature food preparation, including Zachary’s Dinnertime, Cake Day, and Eating the Rainbow. Share a book with your child while they eat or read as a treat!

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