Making and freezing homemade baby food is a way to make sure your baby is getting adequate nutrition, and it may help you save a lot of money. However, freezing baby food isn't as simple as pureeing the food and throwing it into the freezer. If you're going to freeze baby food, you need to know the basics, such as what freezes well, freezing proper portion sizes and making sure the food stays safe for your baby to eat.
Freezing Homemade Baby Food
Freezing homemade baby food is fairly simple when you know what you are doing. Start by preparing your favorite homemade baby food recipes. Once you have made baby food, it is relatively simple to freeze.
- Pour the baby food into sterile containers for freezing.
- Let the food cool to room temperature before placing it in the freezer.
- Never let food stand at room temperature for more than two hours.
Foods to Freeze Pureed
If you plan on freezing baby food, start with a few of the following fruits and vegetables that do not lose much in the way or taste or texture when frozen in pureed form:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Beans and lentils
- Butternut squash
Foods that Don't Freeze Well
While freezing baby food gives you a chance to introduce a variety of foods to your baby on a regular basis, not all foods freeze well. Certain foods brown or become watery when they are frozen and may change in texture and flavor. Foods that don't freeze well include:
Foods to Freeze in Chunks
Some fruits and vegetables that do not freeze well in pureed form may freeze well in another form, allowing you to quickly thaw and puree them to make a serving or two of homemade baby food on the spot. Cut up the following foods and freeze them in chunks. Thaw and puree when you are ready to use them:
Other Foods to Freeze
You can also freeze other foods in different forms than purees or chunks:
- Make apples into applesauce and freeze it.
- Freeze grapes whole or cut in half.
- Freeze rice, quinoa, and noodles, and puree them after they thaw.
- Freeze corn whole and thaw before pureeing.
- Freeze peas whole and cook and puree when thawed.
- Freeze oatmeal cooked, but puree it when thawed.
Freezing Commercial Baby Food
You can also freeze store-bought purees. However, most containers that store-bought purees come in are not designed to be frozen. Glass baby food jars can crack in the freezer as the food expands and plastic containers are not designed to preserve the food well. If you plan to freeze store-bought purees, transfer the puree into separate sterile containers.
Freezing Leftover Food
Sometimes, your baby doesn't eat all of his or her food. If you have leftovers, use the following precautions:
- Thaw only the portion of food you know your baby will eat.
- If you are using commercial food and you know the baby doesn't eat a whole jar, spoon a small amount into a bowl and feed your baby from that.
- Don't refreeze the food if it has already been frozen.
- Discard any food that you have dipped a used spoon in.
- If you have leftover commercial food in jars, place it in one of the containers below before freezing.
Containers for Freezing Baby Food
In order to portion baby food before it is frozen and help preserve the nutrients, you should use special, sterile containers for freezing the baby food.
Ice Cube Trays
Ice cube trays offer the perfect way to portion baby food. You can pour the food directly into the ice cube tray, cover it with plastic wrap, and freeze it. Once the cubes are frozen, you can transfer them to a more compact container, such as plastic freezer bags.
Muffin tins, including mini muffin tins or silicone muffin tins, work similarly to ice cube trays. Once frozen, the portions can be transferred to a plastic freezer bag or plastic container with a lid.
Plastic Freezer Bags
Plastic freezer bags (such as Ziploc bags), especially the gallon size, allow you to freeze multiple portions of baby food without taking up a lot of space in the freezer. If you store baby food in plastic freezer bags, label them clearly with the type of food and the date. You do not have to thaw the entire bag at once. Simply remove the portions you need and keep the rest in the freezer.
If you do not have ice cube trays, you can freeze portions of baby food on a cookie sheet. Line the sheet with wax or parchment paper. Fill a plastic bag with the puree and cut off one corner of the bag. Squeeze mounds of puree onto the cookie sheet, then place it in the freezer. When frozen, transfer the mounds to a plastic freezer bag.
You can also buy special containers designed for freezing baby food. A few of the more popular products include:
- Qubies is an upside-down ice cube tray. Pour in the tray, add the lid with dividers, and then freeze into perfect portions.
- OXO Tot makes Baby Food Freezer Trays and Baby Blocks Freezer Storage Containers that come with lids and correct portion cups to make portioning puree easier.
- Beabe Multiportion Baby Food Freezer Tray comes in multiple colors, has a lid and holds seven different portions in its cute flower shape.
- Vital Baby's Press 'n Pop Mini Freezer Pots can go straight from the freezer to the fridge or microwave.
- Wean Green Glass Baby Food Containers are made of freezer-approved glass for parents worried about the effects of freezing food in plastic.
How Long to Freeze
According to Foodsafety.gov, frozen baby food should be used one month after freezing.
Tips for Freezing Food
When freezing baby food, consider the following tips:
- Make sure your hands are clean when freezing baby food.
- Wash and sterilize containers and lids in the dishwasher before using them.
- Clearly label foods with their contents and the date they are frozen.
- Keep frozen baby foods tightly sealed
Using Frozen Baby Food
Once you have frozen your baby food, it's relatively easy to use it when you're ready.
Thawing Frozen Purees
When it comes time to use your frozen baby food, you must thaw it.
- Thawed baby food only lasts up to three days in the refrigerator, so only thaw what you will know you use.
- If you plan to use the baby food over the course of a few days, you can transfer it to a jar or small plastic container with a lid and let it thaw in the fridge.
- If you want to use the baby food right away, you may thaw it over low heat on the stove or by microwaving it in a microwave safe container in 15-second increments until it is the temperature and consistency you desire.
Refreezing Frozen Baby Food
You should never refreeze a homemade or commercial baby food once it has been thawed.
- Any baby food that has been thawed and not used within three days should be discarded for your baby's safety.
- The only exception is if the food was not cooked or pureed before it was frozen. It can then be refrozen and rethawed once.
Take the following safety precautions when freezing baby food:
Reheat food to an internal temperature of 165 degrees for safety, and then allow it to cool before feeding it to your baby.
Avoid thawing baby food at room temperature or in standing water, because it can cause harmful bacteria to grow.
- If you use a microwave or other heat source for thawing your baby food, make sure to stir it multiple times to break up any pockets of heat and keep it from burning your baby.
- Test microwaved, thawed food to ensure there are no pockets of heat.
Trying It Out
If you're not sure whether freezing baby food is right for you, it can't hurt to try it. Start with one food that freezes well and see how much you end up freezing and actually using. If you like the results, gradually start adding more frozen baby foods. Clearing a shelf or basket in your freezer to hold the baby food will make it easier to keep track of what you have and access it when you need it. This will make it easier to start making and freezing your own baby food.