In recognition of June Safety Awareness Month, we asked nutrition expert Dr. Kathleen Reidy, head of nutrition science, baby food at Nestle Nutrition for the best food safety information for mothers and their little ones.
Food safety during pregnancy
Since the safety stakes are raised when you’re carrying precious cargo, it is important to keep in mind prenatal food safety during each trimester. Everything you eat becomes nourishment for your developing baby and some foods and drinks can pose dangerous health risks, especially during pregnancy. Here’s what to avoid:
1. Deli meats
- Sliced deli meats, hot dogs, deli-prepared chicken, and seafood salad may contain listeria, a type of bacteria that can cause serious illness.
- If you eat deli meats, they should be heated until steaming hot to kill any bacteria.
2. Raw eggs
- Homemade ice cream is delicious, but don’t eat it if it was made with raw eggs, which may contain salmonella bacteria.
- Other foods that may have been made with raw eggs include Caesar salad dressing, raw cookie dough or cake batter, eggnog, and hollandaise sauce.
3. Unpasteurized milk
- Watch out for soft cheeses—or any food—made with unpasteurized milk.
- If you eat soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, or queso, make sure the label says it was made from pasteurized milk.
4. Fish containing high levels of mercury
- High levels of mercury can damage a developing baby’s nervous system.
- It’s recommended that pregnant women not eat tilefish, swordfish, shark, or king mackerel.
Bottle safety for babies
Feedings present some of the best bonding time for parents and infants, but before the magic happens make sure you follow these steps to give your newborn the safest experience whether it’s at home or on the road:
1. Cleaning new bottles
- Before using new bottles, sterilize them by placing them in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes
2. Cleaning after each feeding
- Place bottles and individual bottle parts on the top rack of your dishwasher, or wash in hot, soapy water with a bottle brush.
- Squeeze hot water through the nipple to clean the hole.
- Use a bottle brush to clean any hard-to-reach areas. Rinse well; air-dry.
- If your water is chlorinated, it is not necessary to sterilize after each cleaning—bottles are ready to use.
- However if your water is non-chorinated, (for example well water), you must sterilize your bottles after each cleaning by placing the parts and utensils in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Preparing bottles
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before preparing your baby’s bottles.
- Clean the lids on formula cans before opening them.
4. Warming bottles
- Safely warm a bottle by standing it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes or holding it under running water.
- Never heat a bottle of breastmilk or formula in the microwave. It creates hot spots in the liquid that can burn your baby’s mouth and throat and it may destroy breastmilk’s delicate components.
- Always test warmed breastmilk or formula by shaking a few drops onto your wrist before giving it to your baby. If the liquid feels just barely warm, it’s a safe temperature.