Is it safe to cook or heat baby food in a microwave?

Foodborne illness is a serious health issue, especially for your new baby and any other little ones in your home. In 2018, hospitalisation rates of ​salmonella infection​ were highest for New Zealand infants younger than one-years old.

Your little ones’ immune systems aren’t fully developed so they can’t fight off foodborne infections. That’s why you should take extra care when handling and preparing their food.

We’ll go through some dangers and some explore better alternatives to microwaving your baby’s food.

What are the risks of using a microwave for infants?

Decrease the nutritional value of food

Microwaving your food alters their natural composition and nutrients at a cellular level. As a result, it decreases the nutritional value of food:

●  Reduce levels of vitamin B12. ​This vitamin is important for red blood cell formation, preventing anaemia, and a healthy nervous system

●  Decrease flavonoids by 97%. ​Flavonoids have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-microbial properties

●  Breaks down bacteria-digesting enzymes in breast milk.​ Babies need this enzyme to establish a healthy digestive system that digests food, absorbs nutrients and protect them against pathogens from the inside out

●  Decrease antibody levels in breast milk. ​Antibodies in mother’s milk protect babies from infections

Plastics leach into the food and milk

You’re trying really hard to keep your baby safe so why should reheating your food be any different? Take care when reheating your baby’s food in plastic containers. Some plastic containers and plastic wrap contain cancer-causing compounds that leak into your food.

Microwaving milk bottles is a big no-no. Popular plastic baby bottles can contain toxins that affect neural and reproductive development. When you microwave this, the toxins can leak into the milk. Low doses of the toxins are linked to cancers, early puberty, obesity, and diabetes.

There are alternative ways to reheat your milk (for bottles with disposable inserts or hard plastic and glass bottles):

●  Hot tap water. ​Place the bottle under hot, running tap water until it reaches the desired temperature

●  On the stove. ​Heat water in a pan, remove it from the heat and set the bottle in it until it’s warm

Alternatives to the microwave

Minimising microwave use doesn’t mean giving up on convenience totally. Here are some alternative ways to heat up your food:

 Instant Pot.​ This option allows you to cook quickly without sacrificing nutrients and health

●  Toaster Oven.​ They also come in small sizes so it’s a great space saver for tiny countertops

●  Convection oven.​ It significantly speeds up cooking by circulating hot air

●  Stovetop. ​Just add a splash of water to a pan with your leftovers, cover, and your food will be hot in about 5 minutes

●  Cordless electric kettle. ​It heats up liquids so quickly, you won’t even miss your microwave