Babies are vulnerable to food poisoning and stomach bugs because their immune systems haven't finished developing. When you wean your baby, you need to take extra care when preparing their food. While there's no need to be overly neurotic about cleanliness (some studies have shown that a certain amount of household germs and dust help the immune system!), it is important to make sure no nasty germs get anywhere near your baby's food. Here are some tips on how to ward off those bugs.
- Always wash your hands well before preparing food for your baby, and after touching raw meat, fish and eggs.
- Keep pets away from food, kitchen surfaces, and your baby's highchair.
- Wash kitchen surfaces before preparing food, and clean your baby's highchair after each meal or snack.
- Make sure that raw meat doesn't touch any other food in your fridge. Juices can also seep from meat packages, so store meat in plastic containers at the bottom of your fridge.
- Wash your baby's bowls and spoons in hot, soapy water or on a hot wash in the dishwasher.
- Wash tea towels regularly on hot washes and replace old washing up sponges.
- Wash your baby's hands before eating.
- Set your fridge between 0-5 degrees celsius to safely store food.
How to Heat and Store your Baby's Food
- Cook all food until it's piping hot to ensure bugs are killed. Remember to leave it to cool sufficiently before giving it to your baby.
- Don't give your baby raw or undercooked eggs (including uncooked cake mixture, desserts made with uncooked eggs, home-made ice cream or mayonnaise) or undercooked meat or shellfish. If you give your baby eggs, meat or shellfish, make sure they are all thoroughly cooked.
- Always wash fruit and vegetables carefully, as they can harbour e-coli bacteria. Peel fruit and veggies too to make sure you don't feed your baby any pesticide residue. Peels can also upset babies' delicate tummies.
- Throw away half eaten food, including jars if you have have fed your baby directly from them. Don't save and re-use food as if it has been in contact with saliva, harmful germs can grow on it. To avoid waste, don't put too much on your baby's plate - you can always put more on if your baby is still hungry.
- Never reheat food more than once, as harmful germs can grow if you reheat food twice.
- Frozen food should be thoroughly defrosted before cooking/eating. To defrost food safely, use the microwave defrost setting or leave it in the fridge until it has defrosted.
- If you make homemade baby food, cool it down quickly by putting the food in airtight containers and sitting them in cold water. Once cooled, refrigerate it immediately.