As early as creating the baby registry, parents are already planning on how they will feed the baby once he or she is ready to eat solid food. It may seem a far-off idea but time flies when you have a baby, and before you knew it, you will be planning the menu for the baby’s first meal.
Starting solids can feel overwhelming even before parents begin preparing the food, but a baby food maker can take both the stress and the mess out of the whole process – except maybe for the actual part where the baby eats their meal!
A high-quality baby food maker can save time, energy, and money in the long run. It is considered an investment, an appliance that can take away parents’ worries when it comes to the nutrients and food intake of their little one.
Do You Really Need a Baby Food Maker?
Figuring out whether a baby food maker is a necessity or not depends on your lifestyle, culinary comfort level, and the kitchen gadgets you already have at home. Buying store-bought baby food pouches might be convenient for some parents, but some also prefer to know what they are putting in their little one’s body.
Baby Food Makers vs. Food Processors and Blenders
Yes, parents can make baby food in food processors and blenders, but the results may not be that great. Food is usually steamed first and then transferred to the food processor. There can be drawbacks to this process. Firstly, there is a minimum fill line for food processors while parents will only need to make a small amount of baby food. Secondly, preparing food and transferring it takes up time and energy compared to using only one item for both steaming and pureeing.
As for blenders, these appliances usually require more water in the mix and may make the food consistency too thin. For a more effective option, but still not as effective as baby food makers, you could use a hand blender. Hand blenders can make both baby food and adult food like soups and smoothies. It allows direct blending in the container the food has been steamed in. However, the con for having to steam food on the stove is its risk of burning a pot as opposed to having a dedicated easy-to-use baby food maker that does the job worry-free.
Baby Food Storage Tips
To ensure that parents maximize the use of their baby food maker, it is important to store, prepare and reheat the prepared food. Cooked and processed vegetables and fruits can be refrigerated for 48 to 72 hours, while it can last up to 3 months in the freezer.
Freshly cooked food should be put in the refrigerator within 2 hours, to prevent the growth of bacteria at room temperature. Check that your refrigerator is operating at 40 degrees F or below.
An ice cube tray is a great tool for freezing baby puree. Make sure the tray is thoroughly cleaned or sterilized, and then pour the puree into the tray and cover with plastic wrap. Once they are frozen solid, you can pop the baby food ice cubes into freezer bags for storage.
As well as labeling the bags with the type of food, make a note of the date, so that you can make sure that frozen baby food is used within 1-3 months. An individual portion can be thawed out of the freezer when you’re ready to serve it, to minimize food wastage. Ice cube trays are not only convenient, but they are also helpful in portioning out baby’s food: each ice cube is roughly 1 ounce, so you can easily measure the amount of food the baby is eating.
If no ice cube trays are readily available –a regular baking sheet lined with wax paper can also be used, by spooning the puree to make small heaps on the baking sheet. Place it flat in the freezer, and once frozen you can transfer the puree into labeled freezer-safe bags, just like the individual ice cubes.
Do not freeze glass containers. Frozen glass can leave behind microscopic shards of glass in the baby food that are too small for the naked eye to see. Use freezer-safe plastic containers or bags instead.
There are several options for warming refrigerated baby food and thawing frozen foods for the baby:
Warm up previously frozen purees after transferring into a glass bowl – never in a plastic container or pouch. Set the microwave to 50% power and then warm the puree for 15-seconds at a time. Stir the baby food thoroughly in between heating to ensure it is being warmed evenly and to make sure there are no heat pockets.
Warm the baby’s thawed frozen food in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Use a low heat and stir until the puree is no longer frozen and has a uniform consistency.
Placing frozen puree cubes in a small glass bowl inside a larger bowl filled with warm water. This method takes longer than the others – around 10-20 minutes – but the food will be more evenly warmed.
Frozen baby food will take 4-12 hours to defrost in the refrigerator, so overnight thawing is the most convenient. Keep it in a sealed container to avoid contamination, and it is safe to keep refrigerated for up to 48 hours after thawing.
Reheating (or re-freezing) food more than once should be avoided, so once a thawed frozen puree is unfinished, it is better to toss out any leftovers. This rule also applies to breastmilk. So, if parents are using breastmilk to thin out homemade baby food purees, add the milk while it is still fresh. Parents who make baby food with meat, poultry, or fish, refrigerate any leftovers and toss them out if not eaten 24 hours after cooking.
Once feeding begins, bacteria from the baby’s mouth will transfer from the spoon back into the container, so once your baby has finished eating you need to throw out the leftovers. If parents know the little one is not going to finish the whole portion, it’s better to pour a small portion into a separate bowl before the meal starts. You can always go back for seconds if they finish it all!
Benefits of Using a Baby Food Maker
Similar to most baby-associated products, store-purchased baby food usually is priced pretty steep. This is especially true if parents prefer organic and pasture-raised ingredients that cost more to produce. Plus, producers must factor in many other costs, such as packaging, factory space and selling to grocery stores. If parents are able to procure the ingredients separately and cook their own baby food, it will be a money-saving decision in the long run.
Manage the Ingredients
Unless parents and caregivers read and understand all the ingredients listed on commercial baby food, they can never be too sure when it comes to what they feed the baby. Some products contain additives, those substances that are added to the food to maintain or improve the taste, freshness, texture, and safety of the food. Store-bought baby food may also contain excess sugar or salt, both of which do not fit into a healthy baby’s diet.
Introduce New Things
Making the baby’s food yourself is a great way to introduce the little one to the spices and herbs that the household eats as a family. You could try sneaking in some cinnamon into the sweet potatoes and curry powder into the carrots for added taste. It is also a great way to introduce the different textures of food, like pureeing and semi-pureeing if applicable, or even just steaming as your baby gets older.
The method itself is also a great way for the baby to recognize the food-making process as a way to bond, seeing the parent or caregiver put effort into prepping their food. It is also a way to get acquainted with the approach of seeing fresh food transform into their favorite meal.
What to Look For?
What is it made of?
A baby food maker is often made of either plastic or glass. Some parents prefer glass over plastic material because of the potential harmful effects on the child if chemicals leach from the plastic into the baby food. Others may see glass as a more environmentally-friendly option. Still, some parents and caregivers like plastic better because it is less likely to break – a big consideration with children in the house!
If you choose a plastic baby food maker, check that it is bisphenol A or BPA-free. BPA is often found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins that are used for creating food and beverage containers. Studies show that these chemicals can seep through food and may pose health effects on the brain and prostate glands of infants and children. Check the label of the product before purchasing it. If there are no labels, some plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may contain BPA. Contact the manufacturer if you are unsure.
Does it Fit the Budget?
The price of a baby food maker, like other baby-related products, does not always equate to its quality and performance. However, some of the most expensive baby food makers in the market today are also the most efficient and the easiest to use. Parents must consider the amount of time they will be using the product for, and it’s usually not worth breaking the bank to invest in high-quality baby food makers. Also, keep in mind that it can still be used for the next child if the family plans on having more than one baby. If the baby food maker will only be used on a small amount of food or will not be that necessary once children grow their teeth, then it is probably not necessary to buy the most expensive option.
Is it Functional?
The baby food maker’s purpose may differ from one family to another. Many parents want an appliance that can both steam and blend food or have specific functions to produce a semi-puree result. It may be helpful to consider how, what, and where the baby will be fed. There are parents who are always on the go so pouched food is more convenient while others want to be able to store baby food, so a baby food maker that has freezer or refrigerator storage options may be more helpful than other appliances in the market. Think of the variety in the baby’s menu because some baby food makers work well with fruits and vegetables but are not compatible with meats, or vice versa.
How to Care for it?
Maintaining a baby food maker is almost the same as any other appliance but parents and caregivers must be extra careful since this product is for the little one’s food. Any damage or breakage found on the device may compromise the quality of the processed food – or worse, may contain shards of plastic or glass. Always read care instructions about how to properly clean the baby food maker before purchasing. Because it is used to make food for the baby, it is important to ensure the product is properly cleaned after each use to avoid potential foodborne illnesses. Bearing in mind that time and energy are a luxury most parents don’t have, being dishwasher-proof can be a valuable feature in a baby food maker.
Best Baby Food Makers Today
Beaba Babycook Solo
This baby food maker can steam, blend, defrost and reheat fruits, veggies, fish, and meat in just 15 minutes. This 4-in-1 has a compact design that will not take over the kitchen counter and is easy to clean even after processing stubborn food ingredients like spinach and beet. Its one-handed operation makes it easy for busy moms and dads to create a meal while holding the baby. The stainless-steel water tank storage holds compressed water which can be used to put the nutrients back into the food. It may be a bit pricey, but it works well until through to the kids’ toddler years.
Magic Bullet Baby Bullet Baby Care System
The same Magic Bullet System that created hand-held food processors that turn fresh ingredients into shakes and smoothies in seconds, also produces a baby-focused model. The Baby Bullet Care System includes helpful add-ons like a batch bowl, blend blade, milling blade, six storage cups, and even a silicone batch freezer tray for storing in the refrigerator. The Magic Baby Bullet is made of BPA-free material and runs on a 200-watt motor, making this a great value baby shower gift for new parents.
Cuisinart BFM-1000 Baby Food Maker and Bottle Warmer
Cuisinart’s Baby Food Maker steams, pulses, chops and purees all in the same container, saving on dishwashing. This baby food maker also doubles as a bottle warmer with its integrated feature. It includes 4-cup capacity storage cups to make big batches for storage in the freezer. The Cuisinart BFM-1000 also comes with a booklet outlining the exact food-to-water ratio, so you can produce perfect meals without trial-and-error.
Baby Brezza Glass Baby Food Maker
If parents are looking for a baby food maker that has an easy-to-clean glass bowl, consider Baby Brezza Glass Baby Food Maker. This is perfect for environmentally-aware parents who want to avoid plastic and the chemicals they entail. This product has 3 settings: steam only, blend only, and automatic blend after steaming. It helps parents and caregivers prepare homemade food for the little one in minutes, without stress or mess. The bowl and blade are both dishwasher friendly making this baby food maker convenient for cooking, blending and cleaning with ease.
Babymoov Duo Meal Station Food Maker
Whether prepping food for multiple kids or making enough baby food for the whole week, this baby food maker boasts an 11-cup capacity. The separated steamer basket and blender allow you to work on two different recipes at once. The Babymoov muti-speed, multitasking device creates up to 12 servings in a batch. In addition to steaming and pureeing, the Duo Meal Station Food Maker also warms bottles, sterilizes, reheats, defrosts, and even cooks rice. This product, although heavy at 25 lbs., is dishwasher-safe too.
Infantino Squeeze Station Feeding Kit
The baby food pouches popular in stores right now can be easily created at home using the Infantino Squeeze Station. Perfect for families on the go, this device allows baby’s food to be stored in pouches which can be consumed anywhere and encourage self-feeding. Ensure food is already pre-mashed or at least semi-pureed in a different appliance before squeezed into the Infantino tubes. This product is smaller than most traditional food processors, and will surely be a staple appliance as it can be used continuously until the kids’ toddler years.
Sage Spoonfuls Baby Food Maker
For parents and caregivers who are on a tight budget, the Sage Baby Puree and Blend is a great, affordable option. This baby food maker is an immersion blender with a food processor attachment. Freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe, the glass storage container sold separately is a good alternative to using plastic. This product is also handy for grown-ups, as it can be used to make salsa, hummus, pesto, and even soups.
Choosing the Right Baby Food Maker
There is no need for parents to compete to be the next top chef just to be able to put food on the table each day. When choosing appliances to help you feed the smallest members of your family, it’s important to consider ease of use, easy to clean, capacity, and functionality. A baby food maker is the perfect companion for healthy, homemade baby meals, while enjoying this milestone in your little one’s journey.