Clean living: good food hygiene and habits

Clean living: good food hygiene and habits

You can never be too safe with your food, especially when your baby is young and their immune system is still developing. Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Clean, clean and clean - wash your hands well with hot water and soap before preparing food.  The correct steps for hand washing are to wash for 20 seconds and dry hands for 20 seconds.  Make sure your kitchen and your utensils are kept clean too.



  • Serving baby food – Use a clean spoon and place the portion of baby food needed in a separate feeding bowl.  If you wish to warm fresh homemade or commercial baby food, place bowl in a container of hot water. Stir the food until the desired temperature is reached. Test the temperature with another spoon on the back of your wrist before serving. Avoid tasting food from the same spoon you feed baby with, as you can pass on bacteria.  For more information on serving and heating Wattie’s baby food see the Wattie’s baby food range article.
  • Leftovers – When you baby has finished eating, always throw away any leftover food from the bowl, jar or can that baby has been fed directly from. This is because the bacteria in saliva can contaminate the rest of the food and make baby sick.
  • Storage – cover and store remaining unused food for your baby in the fridge for up to 48 hours.  Store at the back of the refrigerator where it’s coldest and your fridge should be below 4°C. 
  • Freezing – if you are making up a larger amount of baby food, once your baby’s food has cooled down, freeze it as soon as possible. Your freezer should be -18ºC or below. Freeze in covered small portions like ice-cube trays and once frozen pop out cubes and store in a sealed freezer bag.  Make sure you label and date food, so you know when you made it. Use frozen baby food within 3-4 weeks.  
  • Thawing – Just defrost the number of food cubes for a single meal. You can let it thaw in the fridge before a meal, or defrost it in the microwave or reheat from frozen as below. 
  • Reheating - always reheat foods until they are piping hot to destroy any bacteria.  Reheat thoroughly in a saucepan or in the microwave and stir well.  Let it cool down to lukewarm, stir food well to make sure there are no hot spots.  Always check the temperature of food before giving it to your baby.  An adult should test the temperature with another spoon by placing a spoon of food on the back of the wrist – it shouldn’t feel hot.  
  • Avoid the refreeze or reheating again – don’t refreeze meals that have already been frozen, and always throw away any of your baby's reheated leftovers.

Other tips:

  • Separate your foods – use a separate chopping board and utensils for uncooked meats, chicken and fish. Scrub everything under hot running water and air dry after use. Make sure you refrigerate meats, chicken and fish separate from the rest of your food, below other foods, and well covered so no juices drip out.
  • Check ‘use by’ dates - foods that must be eaten before a certain time for health or safety reasons are marked with a ‘use by’ date. These perishable foods should not be eaten after the use by date because they may pose a health or safety risk. ‘Use by’ dates are different to ‘best before’ dates. If they have been stored correctly, you can still eat foods for a while after the ‘best before’ date, but they may have lost some quality.  If you are unsure if it is ok, do not serve it.


The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.


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