Freezing baby food helps save time as you can prepare meals for your baby in advance and store them for later use. Preparing fresh food for babies is best, but since it isn’t always possible, freezing baby foods is a practical solution. You can freeze most of the food in your freezer, but some basic guidelines should be followed.
Improperly stored food can harbor harmful pathogens that cause infections and illnesses. Hence, it is essential to know which foods you can freeze and the right way to freeze them to be safe for later consumption by your baby.
Keep reading to learn how to freeze homemade baby food, which foods can be stored not, and some useful tips for safe and effective baby food freezing.
How To Freeze Homemade Baby Food?
Most homemade foods can stay fresh and healthy in the refrigerator for a day or two. However, freezing is an option when you need to store the food for longer, such as a month, two, or more.
Below are some common accessories that can be used to freeze homemade baby food conveniently.
- Ice trays: Ice trays are suitable to store juiced, pureed, and mashed baby foods. Foods frozen in ice trays are usually one-ounce servings, meaning you store small amounts of foods as cubes with each cube appropriate as a single serving. You need to put the food into clean ice cube molds, tightly cover the tray with the lid (or plastic), and freeze.
- Muffin trays: Muffin trays or tins are similar to ice trays in their function. You can store pureed or juiced foods in silicone-based muffin trays, whereas mashed foods can go in tin-based muffin trays. Use wax paper liners to line tin-based muffin trays as releasing frozen food from them is usually tricky.
- Cookie sheets: If you don’t have ice trays or muffin trays, you can use cookie sheets to freeze portions of baby food. All you need to do is line the sheet with parchment or wax paper, place the food, and freeze. Cookie sheets are also suitable to freeze stick-like finger food. Once frozen, transfer the finger foods to freezer bags to save space.
- Freezer bags: Freezer bags (Ziploc bags) are suitable to store whole foods, such as grapes or foods prepared in larger quantities. You can also use the bags to store foods frozen in ice trays, muffin trays, and cookie sheets. Carefully placing the frozen food cubes prevents them from sticking to one another inside the bag.
- Freezer containers: Freezer containers are readily available over-the-counter or online. Out of several sizes to choose from, four-ounce food containers are suitable to store portion-based foods for While making a purchase, check their quality, such as material and whether it can withstand low temperatures.
Once you know the right ways to store homemade baby food, it is good to know which foods are suitable to freeze and which are not.
Foods That Freeze Well
Pureed or cut into small chunks, the following foods don’t lose their color, flavor, texture, and nutrients upon proper freezing.
- Berries (blueberries and strawberries)
- Corn and sweet potato
- Carrot and cauliflower
- Green beans and peas
- Acorn squash, butternut squash, winter squash, and pumpkin
- Marinated cucumber and cabbage
- Beef, chicken, and fish
Foods That Don’t Freeze Well
Some foods do not retain their freshness when frozen and stored (1). Also, if the water content is high, ice crystals tend to form in frozen food. After defrosting, this may cause the food to become soggy and lose taste and flavor.
- Raw cabbage, celery, cress, cucumbers, lettuce, parsley, and radish
- Irish potatoes (baked or boiled)
- Pear, banana, and apricot
- Cooked macaroni, spaghetti, and rice
- Cooked egg whites
- Cheese or crumb toppings, yogurt, and cottage cheese
- Cream and custard fillings
- Egg-based sauces (mayonnaise and hollandaise)
How Long Can You Freeze Food?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), properly frozen foods stay safe indefinitely (2). However, extended storage of frozen foods does impact their quality, i.e., color, taste, and texture.
Nevertheless, you can refer to the freezer storage chart and know the ideal freezing times for individual foods. Remember, frozen foods are safe, but it is best to feed fresh, homemade food to babies whenever possible.
Useful Tips For Freezing Baby Food
- Thoroughly wash and peel fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, carrots, and potatoes, before pureeing or cutting them into chunks. If you wish to store whole raw veggies, then blanch them before freezing to restrict their enzymatic activity and destroy microorganisms on their surface (5).
- Properly cook all the vegetables and meats until their texture is soft. Poultry should be cooked to 165°F (74°C), fish to 145°F (63°C), and red meat and pork to 160°F (71°C).
- Cool the cooked food before putting it into the storage container. Do not leave it to cool for too long. Cooked food stored within the “window-period” ensures the food doesn’t undergo microbial contamination.
- Use a minimal quantity of liquid (water, breastmilk, formula) while preparing purees to minimize ice crystal formation.
- Thoroughly wash ice trays and freezer containers with soap and water (preferably at high temperatures) to sanitize them.
- Set the freezer temperature at below -18°C. Storing the food at appropriate temperatures is preeminent to prevent microbial spoilage.
- Never use glass jars to freeze food. Most glass jars cannot stand freezing temperatures and could break or crack, leaving shards in the food.
- Avoid overfilling the ice trays or freezer containers up to the brim. Always remember, foods tend to expand upon freezing, so leave some space while filling.
- Use airtight containers or bags to store whole food. It is necessary to ensure the food doesn’t undergo freezer burn, a whitish, brownish, or grayish, textured patch that develops over the food due to dehydration and oxidation caused by air exposure.
- Clearly label the containers, bags, or ice trays with the name of food stored and storage date.
- Properly thaw the food so that no hard parts of the food are present. You can thaw the food by placing it in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave.
- Defrost and reheat the food in small portions to avoid or minimize wastage. Heat the defrosted food until piping hot. Cool the food to warm, and then serve it to your baby.
- Discard the leftover food as refreezing or reheating cooked food more than once isn’t advisable.
- It is advisable to taste at least a smidgen of defrosted baby food before giving it to the baby so that you are aware of its taste before you try to feed it to the baby.
If you’re unsure about freezing homemade baby food, first try freezing small quantities. If you find the technique useful, gradually try freezing different baby foods.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I feed my baby directly from the jar or pouch?
You may only feed your baby from the jar or pouch if they can finish the entire food. This is because the bacteria from your baby’s mouth will get transferred to the food. If you store this food, the bacteria may grow and spoil it. The next time you feed the same food to your baby, there are chances for them to get infected by the microbial growth (6).
2. Can I freeze my baby’s food for teething?
Yes, if your baby has already started eating solids, you may freeze their food during teething. However, take care so that no piece breaks and goes into their throat as it may cause a choking hazard (7).
3. Are frozen bananas suitable for teething babies?
Yes, if you have introduced solids to your baby, you may offer frozen bananas to them while teething (8).
Freezing baby food can be done right while bearing certain important factors in mind. Usually, mothers opt for freezing foods only when feeding fresh food is impossible. You may prepare and freeze homemade food in bulk in appropriate containers such as ziplock bags for larger quantities and ice or muffin trays for smaller quantities of food. When needed, you may defrost the food to serve it to your little one. However, be aware of the ideal freezing time of the food and foods that do not freeze well. Consequently, freeze only the foods that retain the nutrients when frozen for recommended durations.
- Although fresh food is the best, freezing the food makes it convenient to feed the baby whenever needed.
- Ice trays, muffin trays, and cookie sheets are some common accessories used to freeze baby food.
- Some foods that freeze well are berries, peaches, and cauliflowers, while some that don’t freeze well are cooked macaroni, banana, and yogurt.
2. Freezing and Food Safety; USDA
3. Food safety and hygiene; NHS
4. Freezing Prepared Foods; National Centre For Home Food Preservation
5. Food Preservation: Freezing Basics; Ohio State University Extension
6. Keeping Baby’s Food Safe; Arizona Department of Health Services
7. Teething Tots; KidsHealth
8. Safe Ways to Soothe Teething Pain; Stanford Children’s Health