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Safety first for first foods: preparing, storing and reheating food

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Feeding Food & Eating Weaning & first foods

Safety first for first foods

Now that your baby is trying new tastes and flavours you have to make sure that everything is clean and that the food is fresh. Their immune system is less developed than yours, so they’re more at risk to bugs and infections.

Tips for preparing, reheating and storing food for your baby

How can I serve food safely?

Heating baby food

Heat homemade baby food using a microwave or in a pan on the hob until it is hot and steaming. If it’s in a jar then stand it in hot water to heat the food up. Remember not to leave food to cool at room temperature for too long – bacteria starts growing within 2 hours!

Defrosting food

The safest way to do this is to leave it in the fridge overnight or use the defrost setting on a microwave. Always give heated food a good stir to avoid hot spots. For mashed foods that don’t need reheating, check they are fully defrosted before giving them to your baby. And never refreeze something that has been defrosted.

Reheating food

Once you’ve heated the food all the way through and let it cool, try dabbing a wee bit of food on the inside of your wrist or back of your hand to see if it's a comfortable temperature for sensitive little mouths.

Giving mash a bash

Mashed foods are ideal for freezing and storing, which makes them go that little further – perfect when you don’t have time to plan and cook a meal. Mashed foods are easy and tasty but there are other foods that need a bit more attention when it comes to preparation. Always remember:

  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are solid, unless they have the British Lion stamp which means runny yolk is fine.
  • Cook meats until they are no longer pink in the middle.
  • Wash and peel fruit and vegetables and cut them up into match stick shapes rather than small cubes.
  • Don’t give anything with raw shellfish, honey, or unpasteurised dairy to your baby.
  • Never give your baby whole nuts.
  • Have a look at our page on first food recipes for some great first menu ideas.

You can find a list of everything your baby can and can’t eat here.

Easy broccoli mash for their first foods

How can I store food safely?

  • If you're making batches of your baby's food in advance, cool them quickly, ideally within 90 minutes. Store them in the fridge or freeze anything that won't be used within 24 hours.
  • Throw away what your baby doesn’t finish. Food that has been in contact with saliva contains bacteria and isn’t for keeping.
  • Uneaten food in a jar can be left in the fridge for 24 hours at most. Throw away leftovers and the jars.
  • Check the temperature of your fridge. It should be between zero degrees C and 5 degrees C. Buy a fridge thermometer if you haven't got one.
  • Use plastic tubs with tightly fitting lids or ice cube trays in plastic bags, clearly marked with the contents and date (you can pop out the cubes into the bags once frozen).
triangles of frozen yogurt with fruit

triangles of frozen yogurt with fruit

Tips from parents

"Buy a steamer to batch cook veggies / fruits, and then freeze. Easy cooking, saves time, and always handy to have a freezer stash for ‘those days'."

"Embrace the mess! Finger foods are good and different textures are great early on."

Last updated: 2 May, 2023