Home made baby food is a great way to expose your infant and toddler to the foods he'll soon be eating as a member of your family. It allows you to carefully select organic fruits and vegetables, meats free of hormones and fish declared low in mercury. But without careful storage homemade baby food could also expose your child to bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause illness or even death. Following the guidelines of the US Department of Agriculture allows you to ensure your child's food safety is protected.
Prepare for safe storage of infant food by making sure the ingredients are fresh and carefully prepared. Wash your hands before cooking and after handling each food and prepare foods for your infant as soon as you buy them. Wash vegetables and scrub with a vegetable brush, remove all bones from fish and meat, and remove the peels of fruit after washing.
Use a cutting board that is non porous and wash it with an antibacterial dish detergent after you chop each food item. Then, cook all ingredients in a small amount of water, seasoned with washed herbs for flavor, until the meat or fish is well done and until the vegetables are soft enough to puree. Using a blender of food processor blend the cooked foods until they reach the consistency your baby needs.
Freeze infant food purees in ice cube trays that have been washed in hot, soapy water and well rinsed as The US Food and Nutrition Service recommends. After processing in a blender, spoon the prepared foods immediately into the trays, cover with a layer of plastic wrap, and then with foil or freezer wrap, and place immediately in the freezer.
Once the food is completely frozen pop the cubes out into a fresh, freezer-proof plastic bag, mark it with an expiration date two months from the time you cooked the food, and then return the bag to the freezer. Using a thermometer, check to make sure the freezer is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Store the prepared food in the refrigerator only if you will feed it to the baby the same day or the following day. The US Food and Drug Administration Guidelines for refrigerator storage of homemade baby food recommends refrigerating homemade baby food for this short time because bacteria can grow that quickly. Used a closed container and use a thermometer to make certain the refrigerator's temperature is less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Babies do not care about variety so they won't mind having the same food two days in a row. Pour the meal's portion of the food out of the storage container and warm it over low heat on the stove. Never feed the baby directly from the storage container because this would contaminate the remaining food with bacteria from the baby's own mouth. If your baby doesn't finish what you have served him at a meal, simply throw it away.
Select safe containers for refrigerator storage of infant foods. Plastic containers with tightly fitting lids work well for storage, but ensure that they do not contain bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical epoxy linked to endocrine damage in infants and young children. BPA containing plastics often have the number 7 on the bottom according to Consumer Reports, where as plastics with a 1, 2 or 5 designation are BPA-free.
Do not prepare spinach, beets, turnips, carrots, or collard greens to babies under six months of age. They contain nitrates and nitrites that can make children of this age ill. Also avoid honey and foods likely to cause allergies including eggs, wheat, citrus fruits and nuts until after your child's first birthday.