We all know you need to be extra careful when preparing or storing food for your little one. Our easy-to-follow tips are designed to keep health and safety in check.
Hygiene is really important when it comes to feeding your baby, but the following rules apply whoever you’re cooking for:
- Always wash your hands before preparing food and if you touch raw foods, wash your hands straight afterwards. Wash your hands after touching the bin too.
- Keep equipment, work surfaces and appliances clean. Particularly if you’re preparing meat, clean your equipment (eg boards, knives, bowls, forks) thoroughly before using it for something else. Chopping boards have been shown to harbour an alarming amount of bacteria. A plastic one you can put in the dishwasher is a great option and having a couple to hand helps to avoid cross-contamination as you cook. Use one for raw and one for ready-to-eat foods.
- Wash your dishcloths and tea towels regularly. According to the NHS, kitchen sponges have been shown to have the highest number of germs in the home.
- Be aware of cross-contamination, so, for example, avoid getting meat juices on hands, then taps, dishcloths etc.
- Keep pets away from food and work surfaces.
- If your child doesn’t eat all their food, throw the rest away.
- Cook eggs (both white and yolk) until firm.
- Cook shellfish thoroughly.
- Wash raw vegetables and fruit thoroughly, then scrub or peel as necessary.
- Don’t wash raw chicken. Bacteria will be killed by thorough cooking. Washing is more likely to spread bacteria to sinks, work surfaces and handles.
- Don’t reheat cooked food more than once.
- Cook food until piping hot all the way through, then allow to cool to a temperature suitable for baby.
As babies only eat small portions, batch cooking is a real time saver and helps prevent waste. Here are some simple guidelines for keeping food safe:
- Keep raw food away from ready-to-eat food.
- Keep raw meat in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge, where it won’t touch or drip onto other foods.
- If you're batch cooking for your baby, cool the food as quickly as possible, within 1-2 hours. The NHS suggests putting the food in a sealed container and running it under the cold tap. Stir it a few times during the process so the food cools evenly.
- Once cooled, portion it up into small pots and freeze immediately, then you can take out only what you need. Label accurately with the food contents and the date when cooked and frozen – most food can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Defrost food thoroughly before cooking, either in the fridge overnight or in a microwave on the defrost setting.