Baby food storage was one of my main concerns as a new mom. In fact, how to store baby food is one of the main concerns of most parents, especially if you decide to feed your baby with breast milk and homemade baby food.
These foods go bad quickly, this is why it is important to store them properly if you want to opt for a natural baby food diet for your little one.
In this article, I want to share my tips on baby food storage I learned along the way. This baby food storage guide should help you learn the basics of baby food storage that can help you preserve the leftovers like a pro.
- 1 BABY FOOD STORAGE: HOW TO STORE BREAST MILK
- 2 BABY FOOD STORAGE: HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE BABY FOOD
BABY FOOD STORAGE: HOW TO STORE BREAST MILK
Milk, and ideally breast milk, is a baby’s first food. It is also one food that most moms don’t even think of preserving. But in some cases, knowing how to store breast milk for later use is a lifesaver.
For example, you can refrigerate or freeze breast milk if you are a working mom but still want your baby to be fed with your milk instead of formula. Your spouse, the grandparents, the babysitter, or whoever is looking after your baby when you’re at work will only have to heat the milk and feed it to the baby from a baby bottle.
You might also want to store breast milk for your toddler. In this way, even if the baby is not fully weaned yet, you can give her a bottle of milk before bedtime rather than breastfeed her. As I found out with the time, baby teeth are pretty sharp and your baby biting your breasts is not the most pleasant feeling in the world.
For a really short term, such as for a few hours, pumped breast milk can be stored at room temperature, in a sterilized baby bottle.
For any period that exceeds six hours, it is recommended to store it either in the refrigerator or in the freezer. Let’s see how.
STORING BREAST MILK IN THE REFRIGERATOR
Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, at a temperature of 39°F. You can refrigerate breast milk even if you originally kept it at room temperature for less than six hours if the environmental temperature didn’t exceed 72°F. This will allow you to pump your milk at work, then refrigerate it when you get home.
To store the milk, use sterilized baby bottles or baby food containers. The material of choice is glass, although you can also use BPA-free plastic bottles or containers.
STORING BREAST MILK IN THE FREEZER
If you want to store your breast milk for a period between one week and 4 months, you’ll have to freeze the milk. You can freeze milk previously kept in the refrigerator provided that it was kept at a constant temperature for the whole period.
Breast milk should be stored on the coldest shelf of the freezer, at a temperature of maximum 0°F. In these conditions, you can store the milk for up to 4 months.
When freezing the milk, avoid using glass or hard plastic containers as they might break. Instead, it is recommended to use baby food cube trays, silicone containers, or freezer bags. Label the containers with the date, to keep track of how long the milk has been frozen.
BREAST MILK STORAGE TIPS
- Try to store the exact quantity of milk your baby needs per feeding in a single container. In this way, you’ll avoid heating or thawing an excessive quantity of milk. For newborn babies, refrigerate or freeze milk in containers of 2 or 3 ounces. An ice cube tray might be perfect for this purpose. Babies between 1 and 6 months, will need up to 5 ounces of milk per feeding. There are numerous baby food containers and baby bottles to choose from to store the right quantity of milk.
- Thaw frozen breast milk by leaving it in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, consume it within 24 hours and avoid freezing it again.
- If your baby is a few months old, it is not necessary to warm the refrigerated milk before feeding your baby. However, some babies can refuse cold milk.
- Warm up the refrigerated milk by placing the bottle in a cup of hot water. Make sure it isn’t too hot before feeding your baby.
- Thawed milk can have a soapy odor because of the lipids that are normally present in the milk. Although the milk is safe for your baby, some babies can refuse eating it. If this is the case, you can eliminate the odor by warming up the milk.
BABY FOOD STORAGE: HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE BABY FOOD
From four to six months onward, you can introduce the baby to solid foods. Food diversification is one of the most memorable moments you’ll have with your bundle of joy, but it also means more work and thoughts for the parents.
If you decide to make the baby food yourself, you’ll also need to figure out how to store it. Thankfully, baby food storage is pretty straightforward thanks to the number of accessories available on the market. In fact, besides appliances such as baby food makers, you’ll also be able to choose from a wide range of baby food containers suitable to store homemade baby food.
Homemade purees are a valid alternative to the baby jars available on the market. Making baby food at home has many benefits, including financial considerations and nutritional properties of the foods. Moreover, you’ll also have full control on the products used to feed your baby, making sure to choose fresh fruits and veggies.
Just like breast milk, homemade baby food can be stored at room temperature for up to six hours. However, in this case, you can also opt to refrigerate the food as soon as you’ve prepared it.
STORING BABY FOOD IN THE REFRIGERATOR
Most fruit or vegetable purees can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days, when kept at temperatures of about 72°F. The same storage rules that apply to breast milk apply to baby purees as well. This means that you should store the food on a shelf and not on the appliance’s door.
Regarding the containers, it is recommended to use glass jars. Hard BPA-free plastic is also an option as far as you’re able to seal the container properly.
Regarding the capacity of the containers, it is recommended to store the food in separate portions to avoid heating or thawing too much. For the first months of food diversification, the best containers are the baby food cube trays or the glass jars with capacities up to 3 ounces.
If you include meat in the puree, don’t refrigerate it for more than 24 hours. For longer storage, freeze the puree immediately after cooking it.
STORING BABY FOOD IN THE FREEZER
Baby food can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months but, unlike breast milk, it is recommended to avoid freezing baby food that has been previously refrigerated. The best practice is to freeze baby food immediately after cooking it.
Again, the same rules as for breast milk apply. Freeze the baby food at a temperature of 0°F. Avoid glass containers and make sure that any container you use for this purpose is suitable to be refrigerated.
I would suggest freezing the baby purees in an ice cube or baby food trays. A cube usually holds an ounce of baby food, allowing you to calculate just how many cubes you need to thaw to feed the baby. Freezer bags and baby food pouches represent two convenient options in terms of space management.
Baby food pouches also present the advantage of being a great alternative to a spoon and bowl for toddlers, who will be able to feed themselves directly from the pouch. In this case, make sure to invest in high-quality pouches that are reusable and easy to clean. Thawed baby food should be consumed within 24 hours.
PASTEURIZING BABY FOOD FOR STORAGE
An alternative to freezing the baby food is to pasteurize it and store it in jars, on a shelf. This is an old-fashioned storage method used since the earliest times, it is simple and proven to store foods for up to a few months. However, the process is laborious and unsuitable for busy moms.
Nevertheless, if you’re eager to give it a try, you’ll just have to invest in a batch of glass jars. You’ll also need some spare time and a lot of patience. The process is similar to making homemade jam, yet is simpler because you’ll use the already prepared purees.
The first step is to wash and sterilize the jars with boiling water, then leave them to air dry. If the jars are dishwasher safe, you can avoid washing them by hand. To sterilize the jars, put them in a pot with hot water and bring them to a simmer for at least 15 minutes. Alternatively, sterilize the jars in a bottle sterilizer. Don’t forget to sterilize the caps too.
Fill the jars with homemade baby food, cap them carefully and wrap each jar in a clean cloth. Place the jars in a pot with water and bring them to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
At this stage, remove the jars from the water and place them upside down on a solid surface. Cover the jars with a thick cloth, allowing them to cool down slowly.
After cooling, the baby food will be both pasteurized and stored under vacuum. You can store the jars for up to six months in a cool and dry place. Once opened, store the jar in the refrigerator and consume the food in 24 hours.
BABY FOOD STORAGE TIPS
- The best way to store baby food, either in the fridge or in the freezer, is in a baby food tray. You’ll know how much food is in each cube and it will be easier to calculate portions without wasting food.
- If you don’t have any containers at hand, freeze baby food on a baking tray. Use a tablespoon to portion the food on a baking sheet and place the tray in the freezer. When the food is frozen, you can transfer it into a freezer bag.
- Thawed baby food is safe to heat in the microwaves, but make sure to mix it well after heating to bring the whole portion at the same temperature. Yet, the best way to heat baby food is in a pot with hot water.
- For toddlers, you can skip the containers and freeze the food in larger portions. You can use muffin trays or cupcake cups for this purpose.
- You can transform fruit puree in delicious popsicles by simply freezing it in a popsicle tray. In this way, you’ll be able to give your toddler a tasty and healthy treat.