Taking care and feeding your baby are the major responsibilities of a mother in the house. It is your job to keep your baby safe from food-borne illness. It is important to practice food safety because infants and young children are vulnerable to food-borne illnesses. Their immune systems are not yet fully developed. Also, their stomachs produce less acid, which makes it easier for harmful microorganisms to get through their digestive systems.
Here are some important basic food safety TIPS when taking care of infants and young children:
- Always begin food preparation by washing your hands. Wash your hands with hot, soapy water after changing a diaper or after any activity in which your hands could have picked up germs. You don’t want to transmit those germs to an infant or a child.
- Keep your fingernails clean and trimmed especially when handling baby’s food.
- Do not smoke, cough or sneeze near baby’s food and dishes.
- Use detergent and hot water to wash and rinse all utensils including the can openers that come in contact with a baby’s foods.
- Thoroughly clean baby’s utensils. Heat or sterilize baby’s utensils carefully. Harmful bacteria can infect an infant if the utensil used is not washed and sterilized properly.
- Do not feed your baby from a bowl of homemade baby food. Do not put left over back in the refrigerator. Saliva on the spoon will contaminate the remaining food. Instead just put enough food on a dish for one serving using a clean spoon before feeding the baby.
- Food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours should not be used.
- Do not give leftover foods to your baby.
- Do not feed a baby honey or syrup — at least for the first 6 months. Honey and syrups can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum. The immune systems of adults and older children can prevent the spores from growing once ingested. However, in an infant, these spores can grow and cause infant botulism.
- Use only clean and uncontaminated water for washing and cooking food for your baby. If you are in doubt about the quality of water, boil the water by bringing it to a vigorous rolling boil and keep it boiling for ten to twenty minutes. This will kill the germs that cause cholera and other diarrheal diseases.
With all these food safety tips, you are assured that your baby is eating quality and safe food.
Written by Ma. Idelia G. Glorioso, NCS-RUMD of FNRI-DOST