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By the time a baby is six months old, he or she is ready is ready to be introduced to the solid foods. While most parents prefer homemade to the ready-made baby foods, storing the food can at times be a problem. For all those parents who have a lot of queries, here is a complete guide touching upon important points that one should know about baby foods including the choice of foods and their storage.

Baby foods: What to Include and what to avoid?

-The baby foods, be it fruits, vegetables, or cereals, are usually served in cooked, boiled, mashed or puree form to ensure better digestion.

-Make sure the fruits, vegetables, or cereals, are washed and cooked well.

-Mango, apple, plums, prunes, banana, avocados, summer/winter squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots (well cooked), white fish, salmon, chicken, yogurt, brown rice, are a powerhouse of nutrition. Laden with Vitamins, Minerals, Calcium, Proteins, Antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, these superfoods are healthy food options for the baby.

-However, foods such as shellfish, peanuts and peanut butter, milk, walnuts, Brazil Nuts, soy, wheat may trigger allergic reactions in the baby (especially those with a family history) and should not be given to the baby before they are at least a year old. Eggs, though a healthy food choice can also trigger allergic reactions.

-Vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, beet are known to contain high levels of nitrates and are best left avoided for babies below one-year of age.

-Fish that contain high levels of mercury (King Mackerel, tuna, shark) can affect the nerves and brain development in babies and should also be avoided.

-The other foods that should be avoided until a baby is a year old (or more) include dark chocolates, berries, citrus fruits, grapes, seeds, popcorn, to name a few.

Storing Baby foods

-In most of the cases, baby foods, especially in puree form can be stored in the freezer or the refrigerator.

-For maximum benefits, it is best to store foods (fruits or vegetables) for not more than 2 days in the refrigerator.

-Foods that contain egg yolk or meat should not be stored for more than a day in the refrigerator.

-The same foods (fruits, vegetables, meat or egg yolk) can be safely stored for months (1-3 months) in the freezer, making it a better option for storing of baby foods.

-However, it is still advisable to use the foods within a month.

-In the case of using ice cube trays for storing the baby food, some safety measures have to be taken care of.

-Always choose a glass ice cube tray over the plastic one.

-In the case of a plastic tray, make sure it is BPA (Bisphenol A)-free.

-BPA is a synthetic organic compound that can interfere with the brain development with deleterious consequences.

-You can also store the foods in the freezer bags that are available in the market.

-It is always a better option to label the freezer bags with the date and the name of the food item stored.

-While storing the food, regulate the temperature of the freezer to 0° Fahrenheit (for better efficiency).

-Make sure it does not exceed 5° F.

-Keep ice packs (lots) handy so that during a power failure, these ice packs can be used to balance the temperature of the freezer.

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