What are the food safety guidelines for infants and toddlers in Australia?

Zariah Kale
Zariah Kale
Zariah is a writer, history nerd, amateur chef and mum of three. When she is not negotiating screen time with one of her two tweens, or falling asleep during movies, you'll find her scouring vintage shops for one-of-a-kind pieces or apologising to friends for the "late reply" over text.
Updated on Jan 24, 2024 · 6 mins read

Having a baby transition to food purees and first foods is an exciting time! Your little bub now wants to take a bite of everything—and I mean EVERYTHING!


And now is the time to make sure the dog’s food bowl is out of its crawling range. And keep a strict eye on them because a random bug will be devoured.

Hey, they’re clearly not picky at this moment.

Keeping a strict eye on what they put in their mouth is one of the easiest guidelines when it comes to food safety. But what about the foods we offer?

Since the baby’s gut is still sensitive and prone to bacteria, here are some quick, no-fuss guidelines for baby food safety.

What are the guidelines for baby food safety?


Babies have delicate systems, and practising proper baby food safety is critical to promoting their health and well-being. The last thing you want at this time is an upset stomach, which can lead to problems like dehydration and diaper rash


Practice safe food handling


First off, practice safe food handling because it helps prevent cross-contamination, and that is something parents should be conscious of.

Steps like keeping meat and produce cutting boards and utensils separate, avoiding honey and other allergens until one year of age. Similarly, washing produce, utensils, and prep areas can all help to maintain a hygienic environment for your baby and avoid spreading germs through food.


Store and refrigerate properly


If you prepare baby food ahead of time, you must handle storage and refrigeration with caution. Make sure you store the food in an airtight container or ice cube tray.

Refrigerate or freeze the prepared meals immediately to maintain freshness and inhibit bacterial growth. It’s best to stick to the recommended storage times for different types of baby food to ensure the best quality for your child.

Remember, if in doubt, throw it out!

Follow age-appropriate food guidelines


Don’t get excited and offer new food every day. Take it slow and gradually introduce age-appropriate solid foods. Consult your trusted pediatrician for personalised advice.

You could begin with single-ingredient purees and gradually introduce new foods while keeping an eye out for any signs of allergies or intolerances.

Remember that each baby is unique, and their transition to solid foods should be tailored to their specific requirements.

Keep up-to-date on recalls


Vigilance is essential for the safety of baby food products. Check your local food safety authority’s website on a regular basis to stay up-to-date on any recalls or safety alerts. You can ensure that your products are free of potential risks by staying up-to-date.

Avoid certain ingredients


Certain foods can cause choking hazards or allergies in babies. Avoid introducing whole nuts, popcorn, large chunks of raw fruits or vegetables, cow’s milk, shellfish, and foods with added sugar, salt, or artificial sweeteners. To protect your baby’s health, prioritise age-appropriate and safe options.

Thaw and reheat safely


If you choose frozen baby food, safe thawing, and reheating practices are super important. Thaw the food in the refrigerator or under cool running water. Make sure that the food is cooked thoroughly, and always check the temperature before feeding it to your baby. Allow it to cool to a suitable serving temperature after thoroughly stirring.

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What are the food safety guidelines for infants and toddlers in Australia?


In Australia, FSANZ and the Department of Health draw up food and safety guidelines for young children. Some of the noticeable and important ones are as follows:

Breastfeeding


Your baby should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. Breast milk has immune-boosting nutrients. Refrigerate or freeze breast milk in sterile containers. Of course, we undertsand that breastfeeding doesn’t always go to plan or might not be possible. If your little one is mixed or formula fed always make sure you closely follow the preparation instructions.

Solid Foods


Regardless of whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed, you can start solid foods at around six months, on average. This is just a guide and some children may be ready a little earlier, and others might not be ready until slightly later.

Start with single-ingredient purees like mashed fruits and vegetables, and then introduce iron-rich foods like fortified cereals and meat. Be sure to check the textures and consistencies for your baby’s age.

Storage and handling


Safe storage and handling of homemade baby food are essential. You can refrigerate food in an airtight container for up to 48 hours. Make sure you freeze the food in freezer-safe containers and avoid toxic plastic containers.

Pro parenting tip: Label and date containers for identification. You can also freeze baby food for up to two to three months. However, fresh is always better!

Choking and allergy prevention


Introduce peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, fish, and shellfish in small amounts. Check your baby for allergic reactions or side effects. If your family has food allergies, be sure to consult a doctor before introducing allergenic foods. It’s a good idea to introduce potential allergens with the morning meal so you can observe your child over the course of the day for any reactions.

Also, ensure that the fruits and vegetables given to your child are chopped into smaller pieces to avoid any choking episodes. Whole grapes, for example, are a big no-no when it comes to babies and toddlers.

You can take the following steps to avoid any such incidents:

  • Watch what you feed your baby.
  • Never leave them unattended during meal time.
  • Avoid nuts, seeds, popcorn, hard candies, whole grapes, large chunks of raw fruits or vegetables.

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How do you teach children about food safety?


Teaching children about food safety is critical for instilling healthy habits and assisting them in making informed decisions about food handling and consumption. One effective strategy is to set a good example by modelling good food safety practises such as proper handwashing, safe food handling, and kitchen hygiene.

Try to explain the importance of food safety to children using age-appropriate language and examples they can relate to. Participating in meal preparation activities allows them to learn firsthand about handwashing, cleaning fruits and vegetables, and safe food handling.

Emphasise the importance of washing hands before and after handling food, and show them how. Discuss the importance of properly storing food, particularly in the refrigerator, to prevent bacteria growth. Teach children about food allergies and how to be cautious and accepting of others who have allergies.

As they get a little older, you can also demonstrate how to read and comprehend food labels, including expiration dates, ingredient lists, and allergen warnings. Regular conversations about food safety, as well as the use of age-appropriate educational resources, can help reinforce their understanding. Children can develop lifelong habits of safe food practices by consistently reinforcing these lessons and gradually introducing more complex concepts.


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