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 in an effort 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.
Ease of Use
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, while 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 actually operating these machines was extraordinarily easy. The blenders and manual food mills were extremely easy to use after reading through the provided instructions.
Health and Safety
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 it was possible for mold, bacteria, or rust to 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.
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.