Best Baby Food Maker
Best Puree Quality
The NutriBullet Blender is an all-star machine that produces excellent, silky-smooth puree quality for most food items thrown its way. The pitcher is BPA-free plastic and larger (64 oz), which offers the ability to make generous batches of baby food for families with multiples or those interested in freezing and storing food to save time. The interface is simple and straightforward to use, and there is a range of settings from low to high that will get the job done. Also, clean-up is relatively easy. Pro-tip, but not necessary: fill the pitcher with water and a dash of soap, then run the machine on low for a few seconds. This will loosen debris and make cleaning swifter. The motor base can be wiped down with a damp cloth, and everything else is dishwasher safe. However, we do recommend hand-washing to prolong the product's longevity and a bottle brush, like the OXO Tot Brush to reach the nooks and crannies around the blade.
The NutriBullet's size takes up room on the countertop or storage space. Also, it is not an all-in-one machine, meaning you will need to cook the food before blending. Although, we think steaming on the stovetop is just as easy as an all-in-one machine, plus without the plastic-related health concerns that come from cooking in plastic. There is no doubt that the NutriBullet produces excellent, smooth purees that are perfect for a beginner baby just embarking on the journey of solid foods. So, if you are after top puree quality, value having a large-size unit to make generous batches of baby food while still having a high level of usability and cleaning ability, then we recommend the NutriBullet.
Read Review: NutriBullet Blender
Best Handheld Option
Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend
The Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend produced near-perfect puree every time with a simple, intuitive interface that can be used quickly right out of the box. We did run into a few hiccups with some crunchier than desired carrots while using the immersion blender, but its compact size, versatility, ease of use, simple cleaning procedure, and the high-quality puree impressed us. The immersion blender allows parents to puree softer foods to a perfect consistency in a matter of seconds. We think the food processor is equally effective, quickly grinding brown rice or oatmeal into tiny granules, perfect for baby cereals.
This immersion blender is unequipped to handle hard, raw foods, but the food processor takes over in this category to finish the job. It is not a good choice for anyone who wants a do-it-all machine. In short, this product blends like a dream, sports a small footprint in your kitchen or on travel, and will remain a useful cooking tool well beyond preparing food for your baby. With a budget-friendly price, it is hard to find fault with this healthy option.
Read review: Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend
Best Travel Companion
OXO Tot Food Masher
If you are prepping baby food on the go for your toddler, the OXO Tot Food Masher is a handy product. It is arguably one of the simplest baby food makers on the market with a masher, bowl, and lid. With a compact design, the masher can dismantle and nest inside the bowl, plus it is lightweight and small, making this product portable and ready for your next adventure.
The OXO does have a few drawbacks. It is manual and muscle-powered, so reaching desired consistency when mashing some foods may take effort and time. Softer foods like steamed veggies and soft fruits, specifically banana and avocado, have the best results. It also cannot remove skins or seeds. Considering its puree quality, the OXO is best for a child who can manage texture, not a beginner baby. Additionally, some users report that the lid can come off while toting around in a diaper bag. If you are a family who wants to find an inexpensive food maker system dedicated to life on the go, and your baby can manage some texture, then the OXO is worth the small investment.
Read review: OXO Tot Food Masher
Why You Should Trust Us
At BabyGearLab, we present detailed, scientific reviews of baby gear. Leading this review is founder, pediatrician, and mother of two, Dr. Juliet Spurrier. Dr. Suprrier guides our testing metrics and methods as well as product selection. Also contributing is Senior Review Editor and mother of two, Wendy Schmitz and Research Analyst, Molly Bradac, both of whom have extensive experience preparing baby food over the years or have been involved in previous versions of this review with more than 12 products behind them.
Each food maker in this review was purchased, compared side-by-side, and experienced the same hands-on testing making real food suitable for little ones of all ages. These products were tested for puree quality, ease of cleaning and more to determine which options are the best and which are suitable for certain projects.
Jump to: How We Tested Baby Food Makers
Analysis and Test Results
For testing, we consider the following criteria to be the most important when it comes to evaluating how well the baby food makers work: puree quality, ease of use, ease of cleaning, and health and safety. Below you'll find the details from our food maker tests.
Making baby food doesn't need to break the bank, and there is something for every budget when it comes to making food for your little one. The Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend has a very affordable price, plus you can use this puree machine for smoothies and shakes for the rest of the family, giving it even more "value" for your dollar. Also, it can be used for more than one child. In addition, the OXO Tot Food Masher is a really low-cost product. As a portable product, it fits a niche, and you might consider this product just to have on hand for traveling when you may want to make a good mash from your food for your little one.
The most crucial factor of any baby food making machine is its ability to puree smooth enough for baby. We considered how well the products pureed, whether or not there were chunks or skins left behind, and how consistent the texture was time after time. Most of the problems with puree quality typically are blade related, the bowl and blade design that sometimes causes food to move away from the chopping area, the consistency of the food (how well it was cooked and type), and the quantity being blended. Like cooking for adults, you need to be willing to adjust your recipe as you go (such as adding extra water to dry foods) to achieve a quality puree for an infant. Of course, older babies that are more accustomed to eating solids will likely not mind chunkier foods, but you need to be cautious to avoid hard solid chunks to prevent choking.
The puree only food makers, in general, created smoother, more consistent puree blends than the steam and blend cookers. We aren't sure if the products failed to cook the food enough or the blades and product design were incapable of blending as well as the blend only options, but we created the smoothest food with the NutriBullet Blender. Coming in close behind with the second-best puree quality performance is the Hamilton Beach, followed by the Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend. On the flip side, the worst-performing product in this metric is the OXO Tot Food Masher; however, this product is not meant to stand up to the electric powered machines. It is manual, portable, and a handy tool for mashing foods, not necessarily pureeing, while on the go. A feature that most of the other machines do not provide.
Ease of Use
Most of the products we tested were reasonably easy to use. Naturally, the number of parts corresponded with the difficulty of setup and use, but the user interface varied from one knob to no buttons, to settings that required the manual to decipher.
All of the blender only options are simple to use, have intuitive interfaces, and require little effort to assemble. The all-in-one machines require more research to operate correctly. We also had to continually turn to the manual to determine just how long each food needed to cook. It would be helpful if these companies could provide a magnet or laminated guide of steam times, so parents are not always flipping through the manuals.
Even though the blend only options require stovetop cooking of food before use, we still think that is easier and less of a hassle than using the all-in-one steamers with the higher learning curve. The Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend and the NutriBullet Blender earned top scores for ease of use.
Health and Safety
Health and safety include elements related to potential health concerns or the possibility of injury while using the machines. For the blender only options, the main concern is the blades and whether or not there is some kind of safety mechanism that prevents the blades from spinning when your fingers are in the range of the blades.
With the steamers, we considered the potential for plastic to leach chemicals into food, especially when heated during the cooking process and whether or not the devices had steam tanks that were hard to clean or difficult to see into indicating a potential for bacteria or mold growth that could end up in your baby's food.
The blender only options once again excelled in our tests with no water tanks or nooks and crannies for things to grow unchecked. This gave the Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend top scores. All of the options have safety mechanisms to prevent blade interaction, but they all make different efforts to prevent burns from steaming. The all-in-one options that require transferring cooked food from one container to the blender container have the highest potential for burns, which really hurt the BEABA Babycook.
Ease of Cleaning
Cleaning food off of any surface is difficult, especially if it is sharp. Extra caution needs to occur when cleaning each product we tested. Cleaning the all-in-one products is a bit trickier, as the water chambers can't be accessed (these need to be cleaned periodically to prevent mineral deposit build-up to preserve the longevity of the machine).
A lot of the machines have top-rack dishwasher safe parts, which is helpful, but we also find the use of a bottle brush simplifies the hand-washing process, and quick rinsing after use helps as well. Even though many parts are dishwasher safe, we recommend hand-washing whenever possible to improve the longevity of the product. This will also help prevent degradation of the plastic that could result in potential leaching of chemicals.
The OXO Tot Masher earned one of the highest scores for ease of cleaning with a few parts that clean quickly and no small crevices or need for a bottle brush. The all-in-one machines are the hardest to clean with steam tanks that require regular maintenance and some areas you can't see or reach for proper cleaning. The Baby Brezza Complete has a lot of parts and the unique blade with small holes required rinsing immediately after use, or you'll be scrubbing for a while to get the holes clean.
Baby Food Maker vs. Blender
When it comes to baby food makers, we have to admit, the all-in-one cookers don't really compare to the puree only options - plus they are more expensive and have potential health concerns. As a result, we widened our scope to include other machines that don't cook food, but perform better where it counts, making purees. There is no doubt that the results and data show that these machines create smoother and more ideal purees than the traditional baby food makers that also cook the food prior to pureeing. As for cooking, our award winners do not offer this feature. However, we believe it is easier to steam food on the stovetop before blending than to use the all-in-one options we've tested. Plus, this more traditional cooking method avoids the issue of cooking food in plastic, a situation that often happens in the majority of baby food makers, which raises health and safety concerns of chemicals leeching into your little one's food. This is why our award winners include puree devices over true all-in-one baby food makers.
Ever consider making your own baby food? Not sure how to get started or if it is worth the effort? In this section we provide background on understanding the fundamental differences between popular baby food makers to determine which might work best for your lifestyle.
After spending months in the lab kitchen, testing a variety of foods with our chosen food makers, we discovered a lot about why one baby food maker is better than another.
Do I really need to make my baby food?
The simple answer is no. The baby food available in grocery stores today can be good quality and possibly organic. Plenty of children have been introduced to solids on commercial baby food and turned out just fine. However, you may feel a desire to try making baby's food at home, from scratch. Maybe you're interested in saving money on groceries. Maybe you worry about food sourcing or production practices. Maybe you just love the idea of getting back to basics in the kitchen. Whatever your reasoning, if you decide to make your own baby food, you'll surely find beauty and peace of mind in knowing exactly what your baby is eating and how fresh it is.
Do I really need a special tool to prepare baby food?
Definitely not. Making baby food is as complex as you want it to be. In a small kitchen where countertop and cupboard space is tight, something like the Baby Bullet can work but is still not necessary.
In reality, having a product specifically for making baby food is a fantastic luxury. It is certainly convenient to toss some chopped broccoli into an all-in-one product, pour in water, and let the machine run. We really loved that we could set it and forget it, freeing us up to do other things like spend time with the baby. We also found the dedicated pureeing products were easy to use and made quick meals from already cooked foods. Depending on your goals you might be able to use a blender or mixer that you already have. While it might not do the job as efficiently as a product designed for the task, it can certainly blend food in the same way you'd make mashed potatoes.
Is baby food difficult to make?
Like many things, cooking for your baby will be as difficult as you make it. You'll be happy to know that making food for baby can be as simple as pureeing the same foods the rest of the family are enjoying for dinner. Gone are the days of rice cereal only for baby's first meals. With your pediatrician's approval, baby can enjoy a variety of food options from most food groups. Today, parents are encouraged to provide their infants with a wide variety in their diet once they are ready to journey into the messy world of solid foods. Don't be afraid to save some steamed broccoli from dinner and puree it for your baby later. Your time is at a premium as a parent, and you cannot afford to waste it! Just like naps and changing diapers, whipping up a meal for your baby could quickly become a habit that becomes a seamless part of your family's routine.
Safely preparing food for your baby is no different from regular food prep and cooking rules.
- ALWAYS prepare foods on a clean cutting board and DO NOT use the same cutting board for both produce and meat.
- Keep meat refrigerated until just before cooking it and after it has finished cooking and cooled, return it to the refrigerator for use within a few days or prepare it appropriately for freezing.
- Use sharp knives when preparing food and exercise the necessary cautions when utilizing your oven or stove.
- ALWAYS follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Keep in mind too, that these machines often contain sharp blades and use very hot steam to function.
Types of Baby Food Makers
There are three types of baby food makers:
- All-in-one —
- Blender only — could potentially lead to leaching chemicals into baby's food.
- Manual Food Mill — This kind of food maker is one we reviewed in the past and decided to skip this go around as being somewhat impractical for new parents. The time and effort involved to use these items are beyond that of the other two types making it less desirable for parents with limited time.
No one single type of food maker will be the perfect choice for all parents and every goal. However, we think choosing a baby food maker can be easier than you first thought once you determine your short and long term goals, as well as your routine and lifestyle.
First: Do you really want to make baby food?
There is no right or wrong answer her, but if you aren't sure if making baby food is really for you then you either don't want to shell out the cash for a dedicated device or we suggest you choose the blender only option so you can use the device for other things in the future if baby food making turns out not to be your bag. The Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend is an immersion blender that allows for all kinds of mixing outside baby food. This product is easy to use, budget-friendly and makes excellent purees. The Baby Bullet can also be used for other things including smoothies and milkshakes or some light food processing. The Bullet is inexpensive, easy to operate, and easy to clean.
Second: Do you like to cook?
If you don't want to hassle with cooking and blending food, but still want your baby to have a nice homemade meal the all-in-one machines that use the same preparation bowl for steaming and blending is probably your best bet. Cleaning and chopping food is the hardest part of these machines because once the food is in the bowl and the timer is set the maker cooks and blends baby's food without a lot of fuss. The Cuisinart BFM-1000 is the top scoring all-in-one option in our tests with a simple user interface and better purees than the other all-in-one options. It comes with one of the higher price tags, but given its ability to cook, puree, and warm a bottle, the price might be a trade off you are willing and able to make. Alternatively, if you have concerns about heating baby's food in plastic or you are on a tighter budget, then you'll want to cook baby's food on the stove top and use the blender baby food makers to finish the puree.
We take great pride in purchasing all the products we review and putting them through an extensive apples-to-apples testing process.
Each baby food maker was tested using 21 different food products, including apples and plums, chicken and beef, and sweet potatoes and kale along with other varieties of fruits and vegetables. We tested each according to the manufacturer recommendations and often added more liquid/water to help chunkier blends that weren't smooth enough. Multiple batches were made using each maker both before and after descaling and regular cleaning. The puree consistencies were compared to the results of other food makers and ranked in order of smoothness.
We wanted to see how quick and easy it was to take the machine from the box and set it up for use. Some of the machines took substantially longer due to lengthier instructions and cleaning regiments. In contrast, others were as easy as washing them in the sink with hot soapy water and putting a few critical pieces together. Of course, each genre of baby food maker had its own anticipated setup time, but generally, all of the machines we tested were fairly simple to assemble and were ready to cook food within 30-45 minutes of opening the box and reading the included instructions. Operating the all-in-one steamers/blenders did require a bit more setup and consultation of the manuals, but operating these machines was extraordinarily easy. The blenders and manual food mills were extremely easy to use after reading through the provided instructions.
For health and safety, we considered what the products were made of and what materials came in contact with baby's food. We looked at whether or not mold, bacteria, or rust could come into contact with baby's food or if there were parts that were impossible to clean like hidden water tanks.
We also looked at safety mechanisms designed to prevent cuts and burns related to spinning blades or escaping steam. The products without steam ranked higher because there was no chance of burns, and products with steam tanks and plastic cooking bowls scored lower.
Testing Ease of Cleaning
Cleaning a baby food maker means the probability of one encountering sharp blades is high. We spent a significant amount of time cleaning each apparatus to see where the pitfalls might lie when it comes to ensuring they are clean and safe to prepare food. Some of the machines we tested are dishwasher safe on the top-rack, but this does not dismiss them from the angst caused by pulpy fruits, blueberry skins, or the stubbornness of hour-old cooked oatmeal. Be wary of the blades on your food maker; we almost had fewer fingers than when we started with in preparing this review! It should be noted that in our research, we found some owners reporting problems in online reviews with black substances found in their all-in-one machines. We did not encounter this problem in our testing and would urge all users to thoroughly clean any instruments used to produce foods for their infants and always follow the manufacturer's instructions on appropriate cleaning methods.
Selecting a food maker to make baby food can challenging, especially if you don't have experience in this arena. Luckily, we've done the messy and delicious research for you and our detailed reviews provide the information you need to make the best buying decision for your baby. We are sure there is an option here that will meet your needs and baby food making goals.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD, Wendy Schmitz & Molly Bradac