Baby food can be expensive, and nobody wants to waste good food by having to throw it away after a feeding. Unfortunately, baby food can easily become contaminated, so use caution to avoid having to waste more food than is necessary and keep baby safe at the same time.
Whether you are using homemade baby food or jarred food, the same rule applies; any food that has touched the spoon you used to feed the baby needs to be thrown away. After the spoon has been in your baby’s mouth, it carries bacteria back to the dish which then contaminates the food. If the bacteria are allowed to stay in the food and be re-introduced to your baby later, it could cause illness. Even if the food has been refrigerated, the bacteria can still proliferate and pose a danger to your baby.
It can be hard to tell how much your baby is going to eat at any given feeding. It’s possible you will need the entire portion you have set out, or the entire jar. If baby gets full halfway through, or really just isn’t in the mood after a few bites, that entire portion will have to hit the trash. Avoid this by spooning out small amounts at a time into a small bowl for feeding. If you need to add more, use a clean spoon – not the one you are feeding baby with – to add another portion to the bowl. This way you don’t contaminate all of the food. As long as you don’t put the feeding spoon into the main portion of food, you can safely refrigerate for later use.
How Long is Baby Food Good For?
This depends on any number of factors including whether the food is homemade or jarred, the type of food, and if it has been frozen and then thawed. A general rule of thumb to follow, however, is to toss anything in the fridge after 2-3 days. Some foods won’t even last that long. Baby cereal made with breast milk tends to get very soupy due to the action of enzymes in the breast milk. It is usually only good for the one feeding. Foods like bananas and avocadoes turn brown very quickly due to oxidation. While it isn’t necessarily bad for baby, it sure doesn’t look appetizing.
Meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be used within 24 hours, as they don’t last as long as fruits and vegetables and can become contaminated with bacteria easily.
Most jarred baby food will have instructions as to how long the food is good for once opened. Remember that the expiration date on the jar only refers to how long the food is good if the jar has not been opened! While the food can last quite a while with the lid sealed, the shelf life quickly diminishes once opened, even if you don’t feed directly from the jar.
Your baby’s immune system still isn’t ready to deal with a bacterial infection, so be sure to follow safe handling practices for all baby food. Although feeding from the jar is convenient, it isn’t safe if you want to feed the rest of the food later. Anything that is leftover, whether in the jar or in a bowl, should be thrown away right after the feeding if baby’s spoon was in the food. It might be hard to accept the waste, but your baby’s health is at stake.