How to Heat Baby Food
So you’re ready to introduce solid foods into your baby’s diet, you’ve researched homemade baby food recipes, and you’ve stocked up on ice cube trays and Stasher bags for storage. Now, we’re walking you through how to heat baby food safely to ensure your little one’s continued thriving. (Not sure if it’s time to start integrating baby food? We’ve got a post for that!) Figuring out how to prepare baby food to align with your baby’s nutritional needs is one thing, but learning how to store and reheat it correctly is truly just as important for your baby’s health.
There are a handful of key considerations when it comes to heating or reheating baby food: namely, making sure that reheated food is piping hot to destroy harmful bacteria that could jeopardize your baby’s health, and making sure that any food cools sufficiently before serving. But in this article, you’ll also learn about the benefits of cooking in bulk, how to freeze and reheat baby food, and how to do all of this while reducing consumption of single-use packaging, like those plastic baby food pouches that inevitably end up in our landfills and oceans.
So to learn more about all things baby food – and to help create a better planet for your little one to enjoy – read on.
How Best to Heat Up Baby Food
There are two primary ways of heating up or reheating baby food: on the stovetop or in the microwave. For either method, the goal is to practice good food safety and reheat baby food super thoroughly (think: piping hot!) as to destroy bacteria that could make your baby sick.
For the stovetop method, heat up baby food directly in a hot pan or in a double boiler, stirring constantly until the food is steaming. Alternatively, you can also use a sous vide method by submerging a Stasher 1-Cup Bowl filled with the refrigerated or frozen baby food into a pot of boiling water until the food heats through.
To save time, you can use the microwave method instead. Using a microwave-safe container like a Stasher 1-Cup Bowl, heat the frozen or refrigerated baby food on high for 15-second increments. Make sure the container is covered or somehow sealed as to keep the steam in and heat the food more thoroughly.
For both methods, stir the hot baby food well to ensure that any hot spots are absorbed into the rest of the food. Then, allow to cool sufficiently before feeding it to your little one – you can test the temperature yourself to make sure! But don’t allow the baby food to sit out for an extended period of time, as this encourages bacteria growth.
Reheating Baby Food from Frozen
When reheating baby food from frozen, make sure that the food is fully thawed – and, you guessed it, piping hot. It might seem easier to heat just to room temperature and serve immediately rather than waiting for super hot food to cool. But for the sake of your baby’s health and wellbeing, follow food safety best practices and heat food thoroughly until it’s steaming and then let it cool sufficiently. Better (food) safe than sorry! ;-)
To save time, consider doling out baby food into individual portions by using an ice cube tray and then putting the tray into the freezer – baby food is safe to freeze for 3 months. Once frozen, pop the cubes out into a Stasher 8-Cup Bowl. Now, you’ll have single portions ready and waiting in the freezer! And because baby food can only be reheated once, this method reduces food waste, too.
Can You Refreeze Baby Food?
While baby food has a pretty long shelf life when it’s stored in freezer-friendly containers like Stasher bags or Stasher bowls, it can only be reheated from frozen once. That means that if you’ve heated up frozen baby food and then have leftovers, those leftovers shouldn’t be refrozen – either promptly discard them or pop them in the fridge to use within two days. The process of freezing, thawing, heating, and then refreezing food creates a more hospitable environment for harmful bacteria to grow, which can make your little one sick. This is why following proper food safety techniques is important! And this is also why we’re big fans of freezing baby food in single portions – less food to potentially waste.
How to Prepare Store Bought Baby Foods
Unlike homemade baby food, store-bought baby food can be served at room temperature if you’ve just opened a new jar. But if you’re serving up leftovers from the refrigerator or freezer, be sure to heat the baby food super thoroughly (and then let it cool thoroughly, too!) just as you would with homemade food.
And just like with homemade baby food, store-bought baby food stays fresh in the fridge once opened for two days, so discard leftovers that have been sitting in the fridge for longer than this. Likewise, if you’re opening a jar of baby food and don’t hear that satisfying pop of the lid opening – or the click of a plastic squeeze top being unscrewed – that means the jar probably wasn’t properly sealed and could be playing host to harmful bacteria. Although we’re big believers in conservation and minimizing waste, food safety and the wellbeing of your little one is important too. So if you’re not sure if food is still safe to serve, play it safe and toss it.
You can freeze store-bought baby food, but we recommend transferring it to freezer-friendly food containers first – the plastic squeeze pouches and glass jars that store-bought baby food come in were not designed to go in the freezer and can crack. And remember, whether it’s store-bought or homemade, don’t refreeze baby food if it’s already been frozen and thawed previously.
The main best-practices when it comes to heating baby food safely? Heat throughout, let those fruit purees or veggies cool sufficiently, don’t thaw baby food and then refreeze it, and discard leftovers after 2 days. Oh, and that when it comes to all things storing, heating, and serving baby food, the Stasher bowl is your new best friend.