Why Care About Baby Safe Cookware?
We learn about sanitizing bottles and debate on the benefits of organic food. However, we rarely look at what we are actually cooking with. When we cook food, especially baby food, safe practices in the kitchen are important to know. Before thinking of buying fancy baby food gear, check your pans, pots, and rice cookers first. Overall there are two factors to consider when choosing safe cookware for baby food: composition materials and coatings.
3 tips for choosing baby safe cookware
Caution: Copper & Aluminum
Unlined copper and aluminum are reactive metals and cookware made from these should not be used for slow cooked tomato/creamy sauces. The acidity may react with the metals, imparting a bitterness to the food . Coated and lined cookware work better.
Caution: Coatings on Non-Stick Pans
There are lots of debates about the safety of non-stick coatings, particularly polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). While PTFE itself is well-studied and evidence supports it being a non-carcinogenic and inert chemical [4,5], the majority of non-stick coated cookware have several layers of PTFE coating applied - it is the binding chemicals used in between these layers that are in question . With the globalization of manufacturing chains, it is difficult to know exactly where and how these chemicals are made, and if they are possibly going to be reactive and harmful.
Recommended: Stainless & Cast-Iron
Recommended cookware includes uncoated pure stainless steel sets as well as cast iron options [3,6]. An easier option is stainless steel cookware. It is scratch resistant to harsher usage and lasts longer. Uncoated cast iron is also great, but it takes more effort for maintenance. Cast-iron cookware should be oiled to prevent rust over time .
3 habits to keep baby safe cookware safe
The way you use your cookware can also influence the potential health effects that they have.
- Do not use metal utensils/tools that are harsh on cookware. Metal utensils and tools can damage any applied coatings and potentially release them into food as well as increase risk of leaching the metals (ie. copper) . Try using gentler non-metal utensils and tools such as those made of plastic.
- Do not overheat your cookware. Parents are busy. We often overheat a non-stick pan by simply pre-heating the pan with no food in it. Even 2-5 minutes on medium heat6 can surpass the manufacturer's recommended temperature range and increase the risk of releasing coating particles. These can cause polymer fever (a.k.a Teflon fever), which produces severe flu-like symptoms in adults for up to 24hrs, and will not be good for your baby.
- Most cookware has limited a life span. The life span depends on your way of using the cookware. When you see scratches, a dent, or something else unusual, it’s time to change. Especially with non-stick pans that are not supposed to be used forever due to the coatings.