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Making safe baby food

Broccoli and spinach baby food.

Making baby food is easy and by following these basic tips, it will be safe.

Wash hands and equipment thoroughly

Special care should be taken when preparing foods for babies because they are more vulnerable to bacteria than older children and adults. Before making baby food, always wash your hands and equipment thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Use a single use paper towel to thoroughly dry your hands but let equipment air dry.

Keep raw and cooked foods separated

Never let cooked food come into contact with raw food. Thoroughly wash cutting boards and utensils that have been used with raw foods to avoid cross-contamination that is responsible for many foodborne illnesses.

Cook high quality foods

When making baby food, use high quality foods that are thoroughly cooked by steaming, boiling, roasting, broiling or cooking in a microwave, with no added fat, salt or sugar.

Check food is cooked to the correct temperature

Use a food thermometer. Be sure to cook poultry to 165 degrees F or higher and beef and pork to 160 F or higher. Remove skin, bones and fat from meats. Peel vegetables and fruits and remove seeds.

Process until smooth

Place the food in a blender, food mill or sieve to make the baby food. The addition of formula, whole pasteurized milk or pasteurized juice may be needed to puree the food smoothly.

Do not use raw un-pasteurized milk, raw eggs, honey or corn syrup.

Store safely

Fruits and vegetables: Homemade fruits and vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days and in the freezer up to 8 months.

Meats: Meats should be stored no longer than 1 day in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer.

Freeze in individual servings

To freeze individual servings, put the mixture in an ice cube tray. Cover with heavy-duty plastic wrap until the food is frozen. Then, pop the cubes into a freezer bag or airtight container and date it.

Don't leave baby food at room temperature

Don't let baby food sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Harmful bacteria in the food grow very well at room temperatures. Refrigerate or freeze baby food as soon as possible.

Caution! To prevent choking never put solids in a bottle or infant feeder.

See directions for canning fruit-based baby food  at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

Suzanne Driessen, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2018

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