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The Importance of Food Safety for Infants

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So much importance is put on what kind of food to feed a baby, but oftentimes, the importance of how to feed a baby is forgotten.

Food borne illnesses are nothing to scoff at. Every year in the U.S., more than 800,000 children under the age of 10 are affected by a food borne illness. Infants and young children are particularly susceptible to suffering from the symptoms of a food borne illness due because their immune systems are not yet capable of fighting off infections. To prevent any serious health conditions, it’s important that extra care is taken when preparing, serving, and storing your little one’s food.

Wash Your Hands

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the best ways to prevent your child from being infected with a food borne illness is hand washing. 

Your hands can easily pick up and spread bacteria to your baby, which is why you should wash your hands:

  • Before and after handling food (especially when handling raw meats and dairy products)
  • After using the bathroom
  • After changing a diaper
  • After petting a dog, cat or other type of animal
  • After gardening, cleaning or working with soil

How to Prepare and Store Baby’s Food

When preparing, serving or storing your baby’s food, it’s important to: 

  • Use hot water and dish soap to wash every utensil that comes in contact with your baby’s food (e.g. bottles, nipples, can openers, and food processors)
  • Follow the manufacturer’s preparation, serving, and storage directions carefully. Make sure you check expiration dates too.
  • Don’t give unpasteurized milk or juice to infants or young children. Unpasteurized milk and juice can contain potentially harmful bacteria.
  • Don’t sweeten water or formula with honey. Honey can contain botulism, which is unsafe for children under the age of 1 and potentially life threatening if eaten.
  • Keep prepared formula or food in a cooler when traveling with baby. Formula or food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours should be thrown away.
  • Only prepare as much formula as needed. Premixing enough formula for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator is ok. Preparing formula on an as needed basis greatly reduces the possibility of contamination.
  • Put dirty diapers in the trash and not in the same bag as food or bottles are kept. 

How to Properly Heat a Bottle

If you’re using a glass, hard plastic or disposable liner bottle, you can heat the bottle by: 

  • Placing in a bowl of hot water for approximately 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Run the bottle under hot tap water for a couple of minutes.
  • Place in a bottle warmer for time recommended by manufacturer. 

After you have warmed the bottle, shake it to even out the temperature. Test the temperature of the bottle by placing a small amount of formula on your wrist. The formula should be lukewarm and not hot.

WARNING! Do not heat a bottle in the microwave. Several studies have shown that microwaves heat formula and baby food unevenly. Microwaves can create “pockets of heat,” which can scald a baby’s mouth or throat.

Protect Your Baby’s Health  

By following a few simple steps and taking a little extra time to prepare and serve your little one’s food, you can protect your baby’s health. For more information on the importance of food safety, please visit the WHO website.

Edited and reposted from October 2017

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