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.
Making food for your baby should be a fun process and done by choice, not pressure from those around you. As the guardian of your baby, it is your responsibility to determine what is best for your child and your family. We encourage you to take some time to reflect on our test results and consider what products (if any) will work best for you and your family's lifestyle. With multiple options in a variety of price ranges, we feel there is an option for everyone, even if it isn't an award winner.