Is it safe to heat baby food in a microwave?

It’s one of our top labour-saving devices, but is the microwave a safe way to cook for your weaning baby?

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When you’re a mum, any device that saves time is a good thing. And for many of us, a microwave is an essential part of kitchen kit. Over the years, concerns have been raised about the safety of microwaves, but follow the guidelines and you can serve up speedy baby and toddler meals that are tasty, nutritious and safe.  Find out more about preparing baby food safely.

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What are the risks of microwave cooking?

Food heats up very quickly in a microwave and has a tendency to cook unevenly. Hotspots can form in the food and could burn your baby’s mouth, even if on the whole, it seems to be the right temperature. To make sure food heats evenly, empty it into a microwave-safe bowl, then cover it to seal in moisture and help it cook consistently. Contrary to common belief, microwaves don’t zap the goodness from food – in fact, some experts believe the food actually holds onto more nutrients.

How do you know if the food’s cooked?

Check that it’s piping hot throughout: in other words, that it’s hot enough for steam to come out when you cut it open. Use a food thermometer or temperature probe if you’re unsure; it should be at least 70 deg C. Stir the food to remove any hotspots that could burn your child’s mouth, then leave it to cool to a baby-ready temperature (room temperature or lower).

What type of containers should be used?

Only ever use microwave-safe containers, as there’s a theory that other plastics might leach potentially harmful chemicals into the food. Make sure your microwave-safe cling film doesn’t touch the food during cooking, don’t put any aluminum in the microwave and remove teats from baby bottles, as the intense heat will damage the rubber.

Is it safe to thaw food in the microwave?

Freezing batches of food in individual child-size portions is a useful time saver and makes economical sense. However, when food is thawed in a microwave, it can sometimes start to cook. If you then set it aside to heat up later, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. So, once you’ve defrosted food in a microwave, always cook it immediately.

Can leftovers be reheated later?

Any food left in your baby’s bowl should be binned. It might seem like a waste, but bacteria passed onto the spoon from your baby’s saliva will breed on the food within an hour, potentially leading to food poisoning.

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