|Script: Babies and Food
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection
Service "Food Safety At Home" podcast series, featuring topics
for the safe handling, preparation and storage of meat, poultry
and processed egg products. So, sit back, turn up the volume and
Oh, no. Just when you feel you have drifted into a blissful
sleep, your precious little one is crying again. One quick way
to achieve that coveted quiet? Grab a bottle of formula and head
for the microwave. Even faster, maybe there’s some formula left
in the last bottle over by the crib.
But wait! Either one of these choices may make your baby sick.
If the leftover bottle of formula stays out for more than 2
hours, dangerous bacteria can grow and give the baby a foodborne
illness. Babies are in an “at-risk” group, meaning they can
become more seriously ill from a foodborne illness than healthy
And even though the microwave is a fast way to heat food,
manufacturers caution not to microwave formula. Studies show
that microwaves heat formula or milk unevenly. “Hot spots” in
the liquid can scald a baby’s mouth and throat.
Manufacturers recommend not microwave formula in bottles with
disposable plastic inserts. Hot spots in the milk may weaken the
seams, causing the plastic to burst and spill on the baby.
The safest way to warm baby formula, milk, and breast milk is to
set the bottle in a bowl or container of hot tap water for a
minute or two. Shake the liquid to even the temperature.
Then test the milk -- but not on your wrist. It’s one part of
the body least sensitive to heat. Shake some liquid on the top
of your hand. It should feel the same temperature as your body.
Another safe way to warm a bottle is to heat water in a pan,
remove the pan from the heat, and set the bottle in it for 30 to
60 seconds. Then shake the liquid to even the temperature and
As for that quick fix leftover bottle by the crib-dump it down
the drain. Babies should not be fed leftover formula or milk
that has been at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour
if the temperature is over 90 °F). Harmful bacteria from the
baby’s mouth can get into the bottle. Babies can get a foodborne
illness if fed leftovers that were not handled safely.
That goes for jars of baby food, too. Don’t feed the baby
directly from the jar. Saliva on the spoon contaminates the
uneaten food, allowing for bacteria growth even after
refrigeration and reheating.
Heat solid baby foods safely by spooning from the jar only the
amount of solid baby food necessary for one feeding. Heat it in
an electric warming tray or warm it slowly in a pan on the stove
over low heat.
It’s tempting to use the microwave – and you CAN for some baby
foods. However, do not microwave baby food meat, poultry, meat
sticks or eggs. These foods have a high fat content which
attracts microwaves and can cause splattering and overheating.
Don’t microwave solid baby food in jars, either, because uneven
heating causes hot spots.
Meatless baby foods can be transferred to a microwave-safe dish
and microwaved about 15 seconds. Then stir and let the food
stand for 30 seconds. Food that’s “baby ready” should feel
lukewarm, or use a food thermometer and make sure it’s not
hotter than 90 °F.
When traveling with a baby, transport bottles and food in an
insulated cooler with an ice pack or frozen gel pack so that it
stays at a safe temperature of no more than 40 degrees F. When
you reach your destination, reheat the food or formula the same,
safe way you do at home
Now, here’s something to watch when purchasing infant formula.
Check the “use-by” date. Federal regulations require a "use-by"
date on the product label of infant formula under FDA inspection
so the formula will contain the full amount of nutrients listed.
Formula must pass through an ordinary bottle nipple. If stored
too long, formula can separate and clog the nipple.
Do not buy or use infant formula after its "use-by" date.
“Be Food Safe!” for that precious little one.
For more information on baby food safety, go to
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Last Modified: October 12, 2011