We already discussed baby food storage and the best baby food containers and jars on the market. However, how to freeze baby food and how to choose the right freezer containers is a subject that probably needs further debate.
Long-term baby food storage is seen as a solution by many moms. There are many advantages that come with it. You’ll be able to reduce waste, save cooking time, and have at hand homemade baby food at all times.
Despite these advantages, freezing baby food is not as simple as it looks. And almost all the issues are related to the choice of the best baby food containers.
HOW TO FREEZE BABY FOOD
Freezing baby food seems simple. However, even if freezing the food is not rocket science, you should pay attention to a few simple things to make sure you’re feeding your baby with safe food.
First of all, I suggest freezing baby food in baby food containers. This is a thing I can’t emphasize enough because most moms believe it’s perfectly okay to freeze baby food in regular food containers. However, you might want to avoid this for two reasons.
First, the regular food containers are usually too big for just one portion. This will either force you to thaw an unnecessary quantity of food or freeze them only partially full. Not only they will occupy more space in the freezer if you decide to go for the second option, but portioning the food will also be a hassle.
Freezer baby food containers, on the other hand, are designed to hold the right quantity of food. You’ll be able to thaw only as much food as your baby need, reducing waste. You’ll also be able to monitor the exact quantity of food your baby eats.
Second, regular food containers might be made of materials that are not considered baby safe. On the contrary, almost all baby food containers are made of baby-safe materials such as BPA and phthalate-free plastic or silicone and lead-free glass.
Moreover, baby food containers are designed to be more functional compared to regular food containers. In fact, they are usually designed as trays with lids, while the single portion containers usually have handles that allow the baby to hold them.
A frequent question many moms ask is whether is safe to freeze the baby food in unsealed containers. Although you can do that, I’d advise freezing baby food in sealed containers for a simple reason. Baby food can get freezer burns when not kept in a sealed container, and although the burned part is harmless, it is not suitable for the baby to eat.
For this reason, you’ll end up wasting a lot of food if freezing it in an uncovered or unsealed container.
If you’re planning to freeze the food in regular ice cube trays without lids, you might end up wasting a whole batch of baby food. Because of the small quantity of food that goes into a cube, the whole portion might get freezer burns.
Another reason to choose sealed containers to freeze the food is the fact that you’ll be able to protect the baby food from coming in contact or getting odors from the other foods stored in the freezer.
WHEN TO FREEZE BABY FOOD?
When talking about baby food storage, most moms mention “preserving the leftovers”. But is this what they truly mean? In a certain sense, yes. But unlike the leftover storage, as intended for the adults, baby food leftovers should be transferred to freezer containers and stored as soon as possible after the food is cooked.
In fact, you don’t even have to wait to feed your baby before preserving the leftovers. As soon as you’ve cooked the baby food, transfer the necessary quantity needed for the immediate meals in a bowl, and freeze everything else as quickly as possible.
In the case of fruit smoothies made from fresh fruits, this means that you should freeze the excess quantity as soon as the smoothie is ready.
If the food needs to cool down before freezing, don’t wait for any longer than necessary before freezing it. Just wait until the food reaches the room temperature and never leave the food to sit on a countertop for more than an hour.
It is not necessary to freeze the whole batch of food. If you intend to serve it to the baby on the following day, you can store a part of the food in the refrigerator for a couple of days. However, in the case the food is not consumed in this timeframe, it is recommended to avoid freezing it, as it might be contaminated.
In the freezer, baby food can be stored for up to 6 months, although it is recommended to serve it to your baby within two or three months. First, even if safe to it, baby food might change its taste when frozen for too long. On the other hand, your baby’s preference in terms of ingredients and textures might also change. This will result in the baby refusing the food, and you’ll simply waste it.
To know how long you’ve kept the food stored, it is essential to label the containers. You can either use removable markers to write the dates on the containers or adhesive labels. Some freezer baby food containers have displays on which you can set the date.
Regarding baby food prepared from frozen ingredients, you should know that it’s perfectly safe to freeze it if the food has been cooked. For example, if you use frozen ingredients to cook a puree by steaming the ingredients, then you can freeze it. The same applies to all raw frozen ingredients that have been cooked after thawing.
On the contrary, if you’re thawing whole fruits to blend them without cooking than it is not safe to freeze the smoothie for storage purposes. Just thaw the necessary quantity of raw fruits and serve the smoothie to your baby immediately.
I would also like to have a word about freezing baby food containing breast milk or formula. If you wish to use any of the two ingredients to prepare baby food, make sure that they are fresh. Frozen breast milk or formula can only be used to prepare foods intended to serve immediately and foods prepared with previously frozen breast milk or formula cannot be stored in the freezer, even if cooked.
TYPES OF FREEZER BABY FOOD CONTAINERS
On the market, there are various types of baby food containers you can use to freeze baby food.
ICE CUBE TRAYS
Ice cube trays are probably the most efficient freezer baby food containers. Typically, each cube has a capacity of one ounce, therefore it will be easy to portion the food and use just the necessary quantity. Although baby food ice cube trays are similar to the regular ice cube trays, I suggest investing in trays made specifically for baby food.
Baby food ice cube trays are made of baby-safe hard plastic or silicone and are equipped with lids. Most of the times, they are stackable and designed to occupy a little space in the freezer. However, if it happens to run out of space, you can simply move the frozen baby food cubes in freezer plastic bags.
SILICONE BABY FOOD CONTAINERS
Silicone baby food containers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. They have capacities that between 3 or 4 ounces up to 10 ounces or more, and are ideal if you want to freeze, thaw, reheat and serve the food in the same container.
Almost all silicone baby food containers are free of BPA, phthalates, and lead, but you should double check the manufacturer’s specifications.
PLASTIC BABY FOOD CONTAINERS
Hard plastic baby food containers are an alternative to the silicone ones. They are also made of baby-safe materials and are equipped with lids. Regarding the capacities, they vary from just a few ounces to 10 or more ounces and are ideal for both infants and toddlers.
When choosing them, make sure they are freezer-safe, otherwise, the hard plastic might crack at low temperatures.
GLASS BABY FOOD CONTAINERS
Every informed mom knows that glass baby food containers are the best. They can be used for all types of foods, don’t release harmful chemicals at high temperatures and don’t change the taste of the food preserved in them.
However, for freezing baby food, you have to be extra careful and choose only freezer-safe glass containers. Glass can easily crack and break at low temperatures and the last thing you want to find in your baby’s puree is a shard of glass.
It is also recommended to thaw the baby food and bring it to room temperature before heating it, if you plan to heat it in the same container. A cold glass container can also crack or break if exposed to high temperatures.
REUSABLE BABY FOOD POUCHES
Reusable baby food pouches are usually made of recycled plastic. Most pouches available on the market have a zippered bottom that opens for easy filling and cleaning, while at the other end they are equipped with a spoon. They are probably the most versatile solution for babies of all ages.
These pouches can usually hold the quantity of a portion and they are available in various sizes that fit young infants or toddlers.
The pouches occupy a little space in the freezer, the food can be thawed and reheat directly inside the pouches, and you can feed it to your baby with the help of the spoon, by simply squeezing the pouch to get the food out.
They are also ideal for toddlers who can squeeze the pouch by themselves (although you should expect to clean up a big mess when the meal is over).
HOW TO SELECT BABY FOOD CONTAINERS FOR LONG-TERM STORAGE
- The first thing to consider when selecting baby food containers is the capacity. Choose small containers or ice cube trays. Also, make sure that the containers are marked, to know how much food to put into them. This will help you to thaw too little or too much food at a time.
- Another thing to consider is the material. Baby food containers made of glass are the best, but make sure they are safe to keep in the freezer. If you have a small freezer, consider using ice cube trays and move the food cubes in freezer bags as soon as they are frozen.
- If you decide to go for reusable pouches, choose a model with a wide bottom. The pouch shouldn’t have any awkward corners or spaces where food deposits can gather and it should be easy to clean. You should also be able to leave the pouch open to air dry, to avoid the formation of mold.
- Regarding the food containers, they should also be simple and have no awkward shapes. Make sure they are easy to clean and safe to sterilize.
- When it comes to the lids, try to avoid the lids with silicone sealers. Most of the times, they are not properly attached to the lid and food or water can gather under the sealer. Choose instead airtight lids that are made of a single piece.
- The food containers, regardless of their type, should also be easy to label. Some containers come with a calendar feature allowing you to monitor the date when the food was made. However, if you also want to keep track of what’s in each container, you should be able to write it down directly on the container.
- Last but not least, consider your baby’s health and safety. The containers should be made of baby-safe materials, free of harmful chemicals, and hard to break to avoid any injuries.