Do you consider microwave ok for baby's food? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 48 Old 01-19-2011, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd always read that microwaves kept more nutrients in food etc., but then saw before having our babe that microwaves change the composition of breastmilk.  I've been using the microwave for baby's food but feeling a bit uncomfortable about it. Does anyone know of good recent data on this subject?

Do you feels comfortable with it? Why? Why not?

Thank you!

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#2 of 48 Old 01-19-2011, 10:09 PM
 
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We have never had a microwave. DH did the research...he's asleep or I'd ask him. Maybe others will be able to help. Honestly, I had one all my single life and I don't miss it one bit. We heat everything on the stove or in the oven. For baby food that needed heating (I didn't heat everything), I would put some in a small stainless steel bowl, set it in another bowl of hot tap water and stir it until it was warm-ish - this was very quick (30 seconds?) and I never had to worry about hot spots and other issues with microwaved food.


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#3 of 48 Old 01-19-2011, 11:58 PM
 
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If i can avoid it, I dont eat microwaved food. I certainly ammnot comfortable feeding it to DS. That being said, i dont heat his food at all. If i cooked it its warm, otherwise he eats it at room temp or stone cold. I dont even warm his bottles anymore. I figure we eat our foods at a variety of temperatures, he can get used to it to.

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#4 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 05:30 AM
 
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When our microwave broke, we chose not to replace it.  I feel better (even though I honestly haven't done a lot of great scientific research) not using a microwave in general and I don't miss it at all.  If you are using a microwave, especially for baby's food, be sure not to heat it in plastic dishes-I wish I had more research for this, but I am sure you can find some if you google it :)


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#5 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 05:40 AM
 
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We have also never had one, and nobody here in our extended family has one either come to think of it. I don't feel comfortable eating microwaved food, and i certainly wouldn't feel good about it for my baby. It's one of those things for me that i don't even need scientific validation for, it just doesn't feel right to me...like teflon pans and a number of other everyday things that are generally considered fine to use.

My fairly crunchy best friend doesn't seem to think she can function without one, though, so i guess everyone has their own comfort levels regarding such matters.

Good luck!

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#6 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 06:21 AM
 
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We never microwaved DS' food and wouldn't allow it to be microwaved at daycare.  (I asked them to float it in hot water.)  It changes the composition of the food and I don't think it is healthy.  I really don't miss it.  We heat everything on the stove or oven, it's not bad.  I think my DH occassionally misses the pop it in and forget it convenience, but I usually heat stuff up for him so he won't complain out loud.  :)


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#7 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 06:45 AM
 
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It changes the composition of food because it is cooking. You also really shouldn't pasteurize breastmilk by any other means.

 

All cooking affects the state of the nutrients in food. Some will diminish, others will become more available for absorption, this is why eating a variety of food prepared in a variety of ways is so important.

 

I once used a scientific papers database to do a search for studies about microwave safety and then read through all of the abstracts and enough of each study to see whether the abstracts matched the actual data (it's sad that the second part was necessary, but researchers sometimes present conclusions that have nothing to do with their data) this included the infamous blood study.

 

The conclusion I reached was:

To microwave food safely, the best thing to do is stir it well after microwaving.

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#8 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 10:11 AM
 
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I microwave Daniel's food. I don't use plastic, only glass or ceramic or stainless steel and I only microwave it for 10 seconds so that its room temperature. I'm comfortable with this because, honestly, I have other "crunchy" battles to fight day to day. I don't have time to deal with one more thing, you know?


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#9 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for all the feedback. Ive used the microwave for my  own food for awhile and love the convenience but have thought about how I never had any microwaved food  in childhood.

saphire chan: would you mind explaining the stirring bit- I'm very curious. I know you are supposed to wait a minute because the molecules are still bouncing around.

I'm thinking about minimizing it but I do try to cook quantities of things so we can get out and do stuff and come come home to dinner already ready.  Maybe I need to get some small SS pans so I dont need to dirty up several big ones to reheat food.

Still thinking about it all.

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#10 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 02:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by gracemamma View Post

saphire chan: would you mind explaining the stirring bit-

It's a physical safety thing. You're just making sure there aren't pockets of hotter food/liquid.

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#11 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 02:27 PM
 
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Regarding one of the more...aggressive websites against microwaves, I personally was finally convinced of microwave safety when I realized that the person who wanted me to have confidence in their scientific opinion 1. didn't cite their sources and 2. thought that one sign of a microwave being dangerous was that you can't bake in microwaves.

 

The first because it meant that their evidence was "because I say so". (And I did manage to track down the microwaved blood study and the problem was a physical one not a biological/chemical one. Also tracked down the "microwaved water kills plants" thing and it is, quite simply, a lie.)

And the second was comforting because it showed that the person either knew nothing about microwave ovens or was also scared of frying pans.

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#12 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 06:52 PM
 
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We live in military housing and have a built in microwave. We go several days without using it but we do use it a few times each week. I especially like it for warming up water when I'm baking bread and need to bloom the yeast. I don't microwave baby food. I thaw the frozen homemade baby food cubes in the fridge or on the counter in a stoneware or glass bowl then set them in hot water to warm up.

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#13 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 07:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

Regarding one of the more...aggressive websites against microwaves, I personally was finally convinced of microwave safety when I realized that the person who wanted me to have confidence in their scientific opinion 1. didn't cite their sources and 2. thought that one sign of a microwave being dangerous was that you can't bake in microwaves.

 

The first because it meant that their evidence was "because I say so". (And I did manage to track down the microwaved blood study and the problem was a physical one not a biological/chemical one. Also tracked down the "microwaved water kills plants" thing and it is, quite simply, a lie.)

And the second was comforting because it showed that the person either knew nothing about microwave ovens or was also scared of frying pans.



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#14 of 48 Old 01-20-2011, 07:18 PM
 
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I don't think I'll ever lose sleep over microwaved food, for big people or little people, unless some very clear peer-reviewed studies come out showing that it really is bad.

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#15 of 48 Old 01-28-2011, 03:15 PM
 
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Microwaves preserve viatmins better than other cooking methods. When we did purees, we microwaved everything in a pyrex mixxing cup. We use ours frequently. Microwaves can create hot spots though and that can causing burning (not supposed to microwave formula either) and overheating can mess with the micronutrients in bm. Also, no plastic bottles are microwave safe although I guess in theory glass might be.

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#16 of 48 Old 02-01-2011, 08:33 PM
 
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personally, i find it very weird that people feel comfortable using microwave RADIATION to heat/cook food. isn't it a generally accepted fact that radiation causes cancer?????? chernobyl etc.,???? again, i reiterate that the concept of using radiation to "cook" food is simply asinine. though that is my opinion. our family does not own a microwave, and we do our utmost to reject microwaved food.


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#17 of 48 Old 02-01-2011, 11:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Thyme Mama View Post

personally, i find it very weird that people feel comfortable using microwave RADIATION to heat/cook food. isn't it a generally accepted fact that radiation causes cancer?????? chernobyl etc.,???? again, i reiterate that the concept of using radiation to "cook" food is simply asinine. though that is my opinion. our family does not own a microwave, and we do our utmost to reject microwaved food.



there are many, many types of radiation, and the type used in microwaves is completely different than the type that is know to cause cancer. for perspective, light and sound are both types of radiation as well, but you don't spend all your time in a dark, quiet space for fear of cancer. I'm not saying that there might not be other potential issues with microwaves (though ours gets a ton of use, so obviously I don't feel that they pose any big threat), but radiation that could cause cancer is not one of them. 

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#18 of 48 Old 02-01-2011, 11:33 PM
 
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Yeah, Chernobyl and a microwave oven don't have a ton in common.

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#19 of 48 Old 02-02-2011, 05:03 AM
 
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I think the only real danger of microwaving food is that it can create hot spots that can burn the baby's mouth. This is why we warm up bm at room temp. However, sometimes, we will micro a jar of food for ten seconds, which doesn't allow it to get too hot. 

 

I've quite using the micro with plastic, for the most part. I bought a nice glass Pyrex dish for leftovers to eat at work. I want to find a nice big one for my hubby too. 

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#20 of 48 Old 02-02-2011, 08:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thyme Mama View Post

personally, i find it very weird that people feel comfortable using microwave RADIATION to heat/cook food. isn't it a generally accepted fact that radiation causes cancer?????? chernobyl etc.,???? again, i reiterate that the concept of using radiation to "cook" food is simply asinine. though that is my opinion. our family does not own a microwave, and we do our utmost to reject microwaved food.


Well, since plants use radiation to MAKE food, and I eat plants, I guess my comfort level starts right there!    I'm a big fan of UVA and UVB radiation, myself, since it warms the earth, makes plants grow, and helps me make necessary Vitamin D.   Sure, too much of it DOES cause skin cancer, I guess ... but without it, we'd all die.  

 

Long story short: There are lots of kinds of "radiation."     

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#21 of 48 Old 02-03-2011, 09:39 AM
 
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touche

 

there are different types of radiation obviously. i'm sorry i wasn't more specific. rolleyes.gif microwave radiation imo is the "bad" kind of radiation. imho, telling yourselves that "there are all kinds of radiation, so microwaves are just fine" is a salve to your consciences. microwave cooking is lazy. it is not harder to heat something on the stove or in a toaster oven. tastes better too. the fact that microwaves alter breast milk and destroy it tells me quite plainly that it destroys the nutrients in other foods too.


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#22 of 48 Old 02-03-2011, 10:10 AM
 
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I often used the microwave to take the chill off of D's food when he was a baby.  As pp's have said, be sure to stir stir stir and test it to make sure you eliminate hot spots. 

 

btw, I love the micro for steaming veggies, just cut up, put in ceramic casserole with a little water, some butter, and seasonings, and cover with a glass lid.

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#23 of 48 Old 02-03-2011, 07:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thyme Mama View Post

touche

 

there are different types of radiation obviously. i'm sorry i wasn't more specific. rolleyes.gif microwave radiation imo is the "bad" kind of radiation. imho, telling yourselves that "there are all kinds of radiation, so microwaves are just fine" is a salve to your consciences. microwave cooking is lazy. it is not harder to heat something on the stove or in a toaster oven. tastes better too. the fact that microwaves alter breast milk and destroy it tells me quite plainly that it destroys the nutrients in other foods too.


 

All cooking changes the composition of foods, including breastmilk.   When I was pumping and had extra to freeze rather than to feed fresh the next day, I found I had to scald my milk because I had a lipase issue and frozen/thawed milk had an unpleasant taste and my DD wouldn't touch it.    

 

In general, applying heat to foods changes them.  Some changes are beneficial, some aren't.   Long heating destroys several vitamins, such that quickly-microwaved veggies retain more of those vitamins.  Other nutrients are made more available through heating, as the heat breaks down cell walls and makes some cells more digestible.   

 

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that exciting water molecules changes the chemical composition of food any more than applying heat via a cast iron pan or plunging the food into boiling water. 

 

However, there is evidence that the browning effect that comes from roasting/grilling does produce carcinogens in foods. So does the baking or frying of starches.   Microwaves avoid all those reactions, preventing carcinogens from forming in your food.


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#24 of 48 Old 02-03-2011, 09:11 PM
 
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No. Occasionally I use a microwave for my food, but not for my babe's. I havent really done the research, but it just seems like something I dont want to do. I will heat her food with hot water, or not at all. If I just cooked it , its warm. If its leftovers, its room temp or cold. She never seems to mind.


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#25 of 48 Old 02-03-2011, 09:22 PM
 
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The first time I read this thread, I thought, Come on, this is ridiculous, there are no horrible effects from microwaving and microwaving isn't deforming molecules to change them to some mutated form that will kill you.
I still feel that way, however, I was interested in this and decided to do some reading and was really surprised by some of the things I found.
None of this information, by the way, is from any radical site that will remain unnamed, lol

I'm actually a chemist so I started reading some journal articles about microwave effects and there are two kinds. The thermal effects, which are the result of heating and the same effects you would get from cooking in other ways, and the non thermal effects which are unique to microwaving.
In the 80's and 90's, there were quite a few studies done that suggested the possibility of non thermal effects on food but more recent studies have disproved these results and conclude that there are no non thermal effects at all.
However,when I looked at some chemistry journal articles that are studies on the use of microwaves in applied chemistry, there are non thermal effects of microwaves on the reactants that are observed when the medium is non polar.
I'm now wondering if there could be some non thermal microwave effects on food that contain fats since they are non polar. If you melt butter in the microwave, is the effect on the butter molecules significant to food safety/quality because it is chemically different than when it is melted on the stove?
If the food is water soluble, there should be no non thermal effects and the heating reaction is the same as when you use the oven, stove, fire or whatever.

Although food cooked in the microwave does lose vitamin B, food cooked on the stove or in the oven loses many more vitamins that microwaving preserves. Also, there is a risk of carcinogen formation when food is cooked too well done on the stove, grill or oven that does not occur with microwaving.

I haven't found any studies that are available for no cost that look at these non thermal effects on foods that contain fats or other non polar solvents but it's interesting and I'm definitely going to continue to look into this.

From what I read though, overall, cooking with any heat source of course changes the molecules of the food and cooking on the stove/oven/fire, etc...has definitely been shown to cause carcinogen formation in some situations and pretty significant loss of nutrients.
Cooking in the microwave shows much less loss of nutrients and for the most part, seems to have thermal effects on molecules that are no different than cooking with other heat sources.
But now there is a question in my mind of whether the non thermal effects of microwaves have a significant effect on food when there are non polar solvents and what the ratio of polar/non polar solvents does to the formation of non thermal effects.

To answer the original OP's question, lol, I always reheat foods in the microwave for my children and the only thing I've ever worried about are the hot spots.
When I reheated breastmilk, I did it in warm water because the proteins are denatured faster in the areas where there are hot spots that form while microwaving. But if you heated it too high on the stove, that heat would have the same effect as the microwave heating.


ETA here is a link to one of the articles I read that talks about using the non thermal effects on reactions.
http://media.iupac.org/publications/pac/2001/pdf/7301x0161.pdf

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#26 of 48 Old 02-03-2011, 09:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thyme Mama View Post

touche

 

there are different types of radiation obviously. i'm sorry i wasn't more specific. rolleyes.gif microwave radiation imo is the "bad" kind of radiation. imho, telling yourselves that "there are all kinds of radiation, so microwaves are just fine" is a salve to your consciences. microwave cooking is lazy. it is not harder to heat something on the stove or in a toaster oven. tastes better too. the fact that microwaves alter breast milk and destroy it tells me quite plainly that it destroys the nutrients in other foods too.


From an environmental perspective, microwaves use a lot less energy than a toaster oven or stove to produce the same amount of heat.

 

As far as different kinds of radiation, well, yes, there are. Microwaves are one type of electromagnetic radiation. Other types are radio waves and visible light (and microwave radiation is somewhere in between the two in terms of wavelength). I don't think these things are bad... I wonder if there's some confusion over the term "radiation"? In this situation the word is used in the sense of "to radiate" and has nothing to do with radioactivity.

 

 


 
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#27 of 48 Old 02-03-2011, 09:45 PM
 
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 I agree with Thyme Mama...and I'm not the most perfect eater in the world...I eat cookies, ice cream, etc. but I cannot get on board with microwaved food. I took it out of my kitchen when my firstborn was about 6 months old. I do not miss it. The thought of microwaved food just grossed me out, especially after stumbling across information about microwaving just turned me off. Anyone read the study online about the cats being fed microwaved cat food? Yeah that's what did it for us. Also, I've heard and read most doctors, pediatricians, baby books etc. recommend against microwaving the breast milk. Yes I understand heating food of any method changes composition...but it's usually only microwaving that's strongly advised against. If it's so bad for breast milk, I think it would be bad for other foods as well. Even if I'm wrong about all of it, it's okay, we choose not to partake anyway. :)


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#28 of 48 Old 02-04-2011, 04:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babina's Mommy View Post

 Also, I've heard and read most doctors, pediatricians, baby books etc. recommend against microwaving the breast milk. Yes I understand heating food of any method changes composition...but it's usually only microwaving that's strongly advised against. If it's so bad for breast milk, I think it would be bad for other foods as well. Even if I'm wrong about all of it, it's okay, we choose not to partake anyway. :)



That's just because of the hot spots mentioned above.


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#29 of 48 Old 02-04-2011, 08:27 AM
 
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Nope, even many mainstream sites and books recommend it because of the hot spots and also the negative breakdown of the composition, not just hot spots.


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#30 of 48 Old 02-04-2011, 08:41 AM
 
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I use the microwave for reheating plates of food and when I quickly need melted butter, but that's about it.  We don't "cook" in it and we don't use plastic containers.  I think there are probably some not-so-great things about it, but there are not-so-great things about nearly every way we prepare food... pros and cons, benefits and drawbacks.  Moderation, balance, etc.

 

The point that I wanted to make, though, was that it shouldn't matter whether it's "baby food", because babies should just be getting real food anyway.  There's no real difference between "my food" and the food I give my babies.  Purees are unnecessary and not worth the effort.  So, "warming up baby food" becomes pretty irrelevant... it's either already warm because it's fresh-cooked, or you're reheating leftovers for everybody anyway.


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