Warming baby food in the microwave is convenient and fast – you can go from freezer to table in a few short minutes. There are some potential issues to be aware of; however, should you choose to use the microwave for warming baby food. Much of the information regarding the use of microwaves is conflicting, so it comes down to a personal choice. Most experts, however, will agree that heating baby food in the microwave is safe, but certain precautions should be taken.
Proper Heating in the Microwave
If you bottle fed your baby, you probably remember hearing that heating a bottle of formula or breast milk in the microwave is can cause problems with hot spots. This is true of microwaving food as well. Microwaves do not cook evenly, which is why many of them are equipped with a turntable that rotates the food for more even heat distribution. You can’t trust the turntable to make sure there aren’t any hot spots in the food, however, so you should make sure to stir the food thoroughly after heating, and check the temperature in various spots before serving. This will make sure baby doesn’t suddenly get a bite that is way too hot, in a dish of food that appeared to be at a good temperature. If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, rotate the food manually during heating.
Start with the lowest cooking time you think will do the job, and then stir, test, and heat more if necessary. This will avoid overheating the food. When heating baby food, you should bring it to a high enough temperature to kill any bacteria that might be present, and then let it cool to a safe eating temperature. Microwaves can quickly overheat food far beyond the necessary temperature and cause the food to overcook or even burn. Watch closely and monitor the temperature to avoid this.
Vessels for Microwave Heating
The bowl you choose to heat your baby’s food in matters when it comes to microwave cooking. Make sure the bowl is labeled as “microwave safe”. Just because it is plastic doesn’t mean it’s ok to microwave! Some plastics can melt or leach chemicals into food when heated. A glass bowl is almost always a better choice for the microwave than plastic for safety, but glass can get hot so use caution when removing the dish from the microwave after heating.
Make sure that you cover the bowl to prevent splattering of food, but never use aluminum foil, as it can spark in the microwave and cause a fire. The same goes for any sort of metal utensil – don’t leave a metal spoon in the bowl while heating.
Thawing in the Microwave
The best way to thaw frozen baby food is in the fridge, but if you are in a hurry the microwave will do the job. You should be sure to cook food thawed in the microwave right away, though, and not save it for later as it can easily start to cook in the microwave even if you are only trying to thaw it. Partially cooked foods can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
While there have been concerns raised about microwaves in the past, currently, they are considered a safe method of heating baby food. As long as you follow all safety precautions, there is no reason you shouldn’t use this convenient kitchen tool to get baby’s food ready fast.