Can You Freeze Baby Food?
Like many aspects of starting solids and making baby food, freezing baby food seems to bring up a lot of conflicting advice!
I advocate for parents starting out making their own baby food for a number of reasons. This includes the nutritional intake, the exploration of food in for your baby, their growing understanding of where food comes from and cost saving among other benefits.
I know it can seem daunting at first getting into the habit of making food for another entire human in your house but this is all part of it – the habits and practises you learn are essential to ongoing nutritional intake for your child. For those coming across my work for the first time it is your lucky day too as I have just launched a brand new Baby Porridge with Pumpkin Mix designed to help take the load off making homemade food all the time….but more on this at the end of the blog!
What I certainly would not expect is that you are making each batch of baby food fresh each feed. This is not economic in terms of time nor food resources. Here enters many questions then around freezing baby food – including “can you freeze baby food or not?
= yes is my simple answer!
There is an old school of thought that freezing food ruins its nutritional value. This is not the case. In fact, freezing baby food can help to preserve its nutrients and freshness. It is a great way to have healthy, homemade meals on hand for your little one whenever you need them.
In this blog post, I will be discussing how to safely freeze and defrost baby food along with other commonly asked questions in this topic.
Best Storage Containers?
I recommend a silicon tray that you can pop out individual portions in. This makes for easy removable right from frozen. You do want to make sure that the tray or container you use has an air-tight lid as this will help to prevent freezer burn and ensure that the food stays fresh for as long as possible.
Portion Sizes to Freeze In?
The topic of portions of baby food is yet another one with a raft of opinions. I recommend freezing baby food in a tray that has ½ cup portions (as pictured) but any size will do. I have a great blog on portions of baby food here which you will find helpful. While freezing in smaller amounts may seem like you are reducing potential food wastage you will find these too small quite quickly for your growing baby. Food wastage is unfortunately par for the course and I find early acceptance of this can reduce a lot of anxiety.
As a tip what I did with Ray (baby number three) was make batches of baby food and used two trays to freeze in overnight and then transferred the cubes to a larger storage container which I would then ‘pick and mix’ from straight from the freezer. I was too tired to remember how long the food had been kept in the fridge for and this helped keep up variety. I did not label them; rather just picked one that was a ‘bit more green’ or a ‘bit more orange’. I used my Baby and Toddler Cookbook heavily and even though I had created it when very tired it kept it all simple. I have a new simple baby food recipe here which you also might like to try!
How Long Can You Freeze?
Baby food will last a good six months in a freezer! You will go through it before you even get to that point. You could always label the food for when it was made but in full honestly I never did as it always got eaten!
Defrosting & Reheating Guidelines?
As a general rule of thumb baby food safety guidelines are just the same as all other food. Ideally you want to thaw the baby food in the refrigerator rather than leaving it out on the counter. This will help to prevent bacteria growth. You can take baby food immediately from the freezer and defrost in the microwave – there is plenty of research to show that microwaving does not destroy nutrients.
Alternatively you could also quickly reheat in a pot on the stove you will just need to watch it and potentially adjust with water or stock. Once you have reheated once you should discard any left over food.
Guidelines for Different Foods and Adding Breastmilk?
There are not separate guidelines for different foods. As I have mentioned a couple of times my recommendation is to make the baby food all together (so meat and vegetables combined) so its as ready to go as possible. In terms of adding breastmilk to baby food this is not something I recommend that you need to do.
The aim is to introduce solid food and to do so in a manner that encourages taste and early acceptance from the start. The World Health Organisation Guidelines are quite clear that breastmilk/formula alone is not sufficient from six months of age to match your babies growth. Adding in breastmilk or formula is another step and changes the taste of solid food. If you feel strongly about this of course you can but it is not necessary and you will need to keep in mind the different storage guidelines for breastmilk.
Freezing New Porridge Mix?
After over a decade researching and helping parents with introducing solid food I am beyond excited to introduce my brand new Baby Porridge with Pumpkin Mix. This porridge is:
*Grain & gluten-free (as per my recommendations in The Nourished Baby)
*Contains a vegetable (freeze-dried pumpkin)
*Has a plant-based source of iron and healthy fats
You simply add water or milk of choice and…..yes you can freeze any left over portions!
So there you have it! Freezing baby food is a great way to save time and ensure that your little one always has a healthy meal on hand.
x Dr Julie