Beginning the weaning journey is such an exciting yet nerve-racking time! Once you’ve finally decided which highchair, bowls and cutlery to use and the approach you are going to follow, then comes the fun part……. Preparing first foods for baby!
It’s important to remember that babies and young children don’t have the same immune system as us adults (or even older children) so hopefully this blog will help to give you the confidence to make sure those crucial ‘first taste’ purees for your baby are prepared with food safety in mind! And don’t forget to wash baby’s hands before popping them in the high chair!
Thinning First Taste Purees
Whilst you don’t have to add anything extra to those first purees for baby, you may find that you need some extra liquid to help loosen the consistency, so this is a great opportunity to add a splash of baby’s usual milk; formula or breast milk. This not only thins the puree but will also help to add a familiar taste and some nutrients too!
Tap water, cow’s milk or plant-based milks are also absolutely fine to use in food for babies over 6 months! Check out Charlotte’s blog on Milk Recommendations for more on this. You can add these in and serve straight to your baby at mealtimes…
However, if you want to keep for another day, there are some things you might need to keep in mind.
Using Formula Milk in baby purees
It is perfectly safe to use formula milk as an ingredient within a meal or puree that you wish to keep and reheat another day.
However, if doing so, follow some simple food safety principles to make sure the leftovers are safe to use:
- Use freshly prepared formula
- After cooking and adding the formula, ensure your puree is cooled quickly and put into the fridge or freezer within an hour and half
- Ensure you follow the reheating and shelf life guidance in the table below
Using Breastmilk in baby purees
When you start weaning you may want to add breast milk to baby’s first foods for a familiar taste and to boost the nutrient content!
The most important thing to remember when using breast milk in cooking is that breastmilk must never be refrozen. So, if you’re batch cooking purees and wanting to freeze or save the leftovers, do not use previously frozen breastmilk!
You can add fresh breastmilk and freeze the purees OR use frozen breastmilk, defrosted and serve the puree straight away for baby! Just make sure if you use defrosted breastmilk that you dispose of the leftovers.
TOP TIP: Ice cube trays are great for freezing small portions of breast milk that you could later defrost and add to any puree before serving; a great way to cool it down quickly!
Baby purees are often best served at room temperature, but don’t be tempted to partially reheat food for your baby to avoid having to wait for it to cool. Baby purees should always be reheated until piping hot; which means steaming throughout.
When reheating homemade baby purees, it’s best to reheat using a microwave or on the hob. If, like me, you often forget to take baby’s food out of the freezer in time to defrost, did you know you can also cook baby purees straight from frozen! Just make sure you increase the cooking time and stir regularly (every 20-30 seconds) to ensure there are no hot spots and that the puree is evenly heated so it is piping hot throughout.
Remember though that foods can only be reheated once so make sure you divide your puree into baby friendly portions before freezing!
Shelf Life Guidance for Purees:
The great news is that most purees you make for your baby can be kept in the fridge or frozen to use another day! If you’ve used frozen veg, such as peas, to make a puree for your baby then the leftovers can be frozen provided you have cooked them in between!
For further guidance, check out the shelf life guidance below….
How long can purees be kept in the freezer?
Ideally, you should aim to use any portions of baby puree in the freezer within 3 months.
BUT…. It’s important to know that there are no safety concerns if you feed your baby food which has been in the freezer for longer than this! The freezer acts as a ‘pause button’ on bacteria, but the quality of food in the freezer will deteriorate over time.
Hopefully you find this blog useful in helping you prepare for the weaning journey with your little one!
This blog is written by Jenna Brown BSc MCIEH. You can follow Jenna on Instagram @Foodsafetymum.