Baby Food: Safe Food-handling Practice

Your baby has a very sensitive digestive tract and is not used to even the smallest amount of bacteria that might be lingering in your household. To protect your baby’s health, it is important to handle all food items and food stuff carefully.

Cleanse and Sterilize Feeding Equipment

All feeding equipment such as new spoons, cups, bottles and especially nipples, should be placed in boiling water for 3-5 minutes before use. You should also wash the items carefully, preferably in a high heat dishwasher setting to add additional sterilization. There are also ways to steam sterilize bottle components and other feeding utensils or breast pump parts in the microwave – look for special bags for exactly this purpose. In the case of latex components, such as bottle nipples, read the manufacturer’s instructions. It may very well be that you should be replacing those every three to six months to keep them safe for baby.

Keeping Formula Safe

Formula can be stored in an unopened container for long periods of time – look for the expiration date on the container to determine exactly how long. Once the formula is opened, however, ready-to-eat or condensed formula should be kept cold and used within 48 hours. Powdered formula can be opened at kept at room temperature, but be sure to keep the container’s lid on when it is not in use.

Always mix formula according to the instructions and measure carefully as estimating amounts can make the formula to thin or too thick. While not especially harmful to baby, thick formula can cause constipation and thin formula might not provide the adequate amounts of nutrition required.

After mixing a bottle, it can only be used for about an hour after baby has started eating. Waiting longer allows bacteria to grow and can be harmful. If the bottle is made and not actually fed to your baby, you can store it covered in the refrigerator for up to forty-eight hours. Do not store a bottle, even in the refrigerator that has been partially drunk.

Breast milk

If you pump breast milk, it can be stored at room temperature for up to six or eight hours, but four hours is a safe limit as room temperature can vary. Breast milk can be refrigerated for up to eight days, but for the best temperature settings, avoid storing the milk in the door of the fridge which experiences the most temperature fluctuations. Breast milk can be frozen in the top compartment of a refrigerator/freezer for three or four months and can last up to six months in a deep freezer. Again, avoid storing the milk in the freezer door. Once a bottle of breast milk has been started by your baby, it should be discarded in an hour or two.


When feeding solid baby foods, you can only use each container for two days once it has been opened. If you “double-dip” meaning you use a spoon in the container and then give it to your baby before returning it to the container, you’ve introduced bacteria to the food and should not use it for more than an hour. Throwing away every container you open after just an hour can be extremely wasteful, especially with younger babies who are just learning to feed. Prevent this by scooping out food from the container into a small cup and then storing the uncontaminated remainders of the container for a later feeding. You can then feed baby from the cup and not have to waste.

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