There’s nothing more frustrating than opening the fridge and taking a whiff of baby food left idle for too long. Whether it’s ready-to-buy baby carrots or made-from-scratch peas, keeping your baby’s grub safely stored helps prevent wasting food and having to scramble to prep the meal over again. Plus, as important as food safety is for all of us, it’s extra important for little ones.  Babies are born with weak immune systems that make it challenging to fight off sickness, putting them at a higher risk for foodborne illness. No matter if you’re stashing packaged baby food or homemade purees, we’ve rounded up the advice you need to store your little one’s eats safely.  

How to Store Packaged Baby Foods

Retailers typically stock baby food aisles with plenty of puree options in plastic containers, jars, and pouches, which require no refrigeration before opening. These store-bought baby foods are similar to other shelf-stable foods like chicken broth or canned beans. Pre-packaged baby foods may have a long life in your home pantry, as long as they’re unopened and in a cool, dark place. Of course, always let the best-by date be your guide!

How to Store Leftover Baby Food

You’ve cracked open the jar of bananas for feeding time, but your bub only nibbled on half the jar. Now what? If your baby eats directly from the jar of baby food, and there are leftovers, they must be thrown out. That’s because double dipping the spoon causes saliva to contaminate the leftovers—creating a playground for bacteria growth.  

A better bet? Before serving your baby store-bought baby food, transfer some of it to a baby-friendly dish (you know, the kind that won’t shatter if your little one knocks it off their tray or out of your hands). Then, you can safely store any untouched leftovers in the refrigerator.

How to Store Packaged Baby Food in the Fridge

Store baby food purees in sealable containers, such as BPA-free plastic containers, glass jars, or reusable pouches. Place baby food purees in the fridge and use them within these recommended time frames to keep them fresh:

  • Fruits and veggie purees: 2 to 3 days  
  • Meat purees: 1 day
  • Meat and veggie mixed purees: 1 to 2 days

 

Tips for Freezing Store-Bought Baby Foods 

Some baby food companies don’t advise freezing their products because it may change the texture and consistency once thawed.  Other companies will tell you it’s okay to freeze their products if your baby isn’t too bothered by the surprise texture change.

Place baby food purees in freezer-safe containers, such as:

  • Silicone ice cube trays
  • Silicone muffin tins
  • Freezer-safe glass containers (avoid regular glass containers as they can break in the freezer)
  • BPA-free plastic containers
  • Reusable pouches

Store shelf-stable purees in the freezer and use them within the recommended time frames:

  • Fruits and veggie purees: 6 to 8 months
  • Meat purees: 1 to 2 months
  • Meat and veggie mixed purees: 1 to 2 months

 

How to Store Homemade Baby Foods

Though it doesn’t take a master chef to prepare homemade baby foods, it does take time, effort, and patience. Knowing how to store them is vital, so the food stays fresh and your hard work doesn’t go to waste. 

How to Store Homemade Baby Foods in the Fridge

  • Always refrigerate freshly prepared baby foods within two hours.
  • Like store-bought baby foods, you can store homemade purees in sealable, fridge-worthy containers such as BPA-free plastic containers, glass jars, or reusable pouches.
  • Only store homemade baby foods in the fridge for one to two days. Homemade baby foods don’t go through pasteurization like store-bought foods, therefore, they can spoil more quickly.
  • Keep track of refrigeration dates by labeling your storage containers. 

Tips for Freezing Homemade Baby Foods

Freeze homemade baby foods in small amounts for easy thawing. You can conveniently freeze your homemade baby foods in:

  • Ice cube trays (1-ounce portions)
  • Silicone muffin tins
  • Freezer-safe glass containers (again, glass that isn’t freezer-safe could break!)
  • BPA-free plastic containers
  • Reusable pouches

You can also use a cookie sheet to freeze thicker baby food (this technique won’t work for liquid-y purees). Line the sheet with parchment or wax paper, and scoop single portions of baby food onto the tray (in the same way you’d scoop cookie dough onto a tray). Line them up in rows, and put the pan in the freezer. 

Once individual portions are frozen (whether in ice cube trays, muffin tins, or on a sheet pan), you can pop them out and place them in labeled zip-top plastic bags to save freezer space.

Baby Food Thawing Tips

Once you take your frozen baby food out of the freezer, you’ll need to thaw it before serving. Here’s how to thaw baby food:

  • The Center for Disease Control advises against thawing frozen baby foods on the counter because of potential bacterial growth during thawing.
  • Thawing frozen baby foods in the fridge is the safest option, but it may take up to 12 hours (so plan well!)
  • A good rule of thumb is to put the frozen food your baby needs in the fridge one day before you plan to serve it. 
  • You can thaw frozen baby foods in the microwave by using the defrost setting, but it’s very important to test the temperature before serving your little one (the microwave tends to reheat food unevenly, so sometimes the outer edge of the container will get hot, while the rest might feel okay). Aim to serve baby food lukewarm to prevent burns. 

Get more baby food advice:

 *** 

REFERENCES

  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (FoodSafety.gov): People At Risk Children Under Five
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (FoodSafety.gov): 4 Steps to Food Safety
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Four Steps to Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill

About Gabrielle McPherson

Gabrielle McPherson, MS, RDN, LDN is registered dietitian in Missouri who specializes in community and pediatric nutrition. Gaby is passionate about encouraging families to eat well in simple, practical ways that are realistic...and delicious! When not working, Gaby loves cooking, baking, and making messes and memories with her sous-chef/preschooler Charlotte.

View more posts tagged, feeding

Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Connect with us at customercare@happiestbaby.com.

Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.