Homemade baby food is an excellent way to incorporate fresh and nutritious ingredients into your baby's daily diet. It can be comforting to know exactly what is in your baby's food and being able to store the food means you can have quality nutrition on hand for every meal without the need for time-consuming prep work. Storing your baby food, however, can be confusing and often improperly done. In a quest to make this process more straightforward, we tested a variety of leading storage containers, freezer trays, and pouches and to help you find the best options for your at-home food storage needs.
Best Baby Food Storage Systems Review
The 4-pack of OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks is our favorite storage system. The glass mitigates the risk of leaching chemicals that may occur from plastic and the OXO's durable body is borosilicate glass, which reduces the risk of breakage from sudden temperature changes. The 4 oz portion sizes are the perfect size for pureed solids and there are volume measurements on the side to keep track of baby's consumption. This system includes a freezer tray for easy storing, and silicone sleeves and leakproof snap-on plastic lids for on the go baby meals that can go from the freezer to a diaper bag with ease. We also like that the containers can be used for other foods long after your little one is done with baby food.
While the glass portion is dishwasher-safe, we recommend hand washing to prevent the volume markings from fading. Also, we suggest handwashing the plastic lid and silicone gasket to prevent potential degradation related to heating. Despite the hand cleaning process, these containers are a great storage choice for those who want to track volume consumption or want to use glass for storing and enjoy a fridge to bag travel companion.
The 6-pack Wean Green Baby Starter Set is tempered glass which is stronger than regular glass and can withstand falls. These containers can go from the freezer to heating to the dishwasher without a hiccup and the locking lids are leak-free. They are also oven-safe up to 250 F, without the plastic lid making them more versatile than most of the competition. This set includes two 4 oz Wean Cubes, two 5 oz Wean Tubs, and two 5.4 oz Wean Bowls creating a versatile feeding system. As always, we recommend handwashing plastic.
Be forewarned that the silicone seal of the Wean Green Lid needs periodic cleaning and drying, to prevent trapping moisture and food particles that can create mold growth. Other than this maintenance issue, we love the Wean Green storage system. The versatile components will serve your pantry well beyond the baby food phase for lunch box condiments, dips and yogurt, and reheating food away from home.
Read Review: Wean Green Wean Cubes
We like the 9-portion Kiddo Feedo Freezer Tray because its 2.6 oz dome-shaped cubes are sized right for feeding and the lid and tray are food-grade, flexible silicone. The trays create frozen cubes that easily pop out of their cold nest and it is labeled oven safe up to 446 F for whipping up muffins or mini-egg dishes. Also, because silicone is non-breakable, it can function as a fun multi-snack presentation for older toddlers and the lids won't become brittle over time like plastic can. Kiddo Feedo silicone is free of phthalates, PVC, BPA, lead, latex, and nitrosamine with strict quality control inspections. While it is dishwasher safe, it is also very easy to handwash which we recommend.
The lids on this tray are silicone and don't "snap" on like a plastic lid will. Also, the Feedo system has a "just out of the box" smell that requires airing out before using. On their FAQ page, Kiddo Feedo explains that this odor is a result of the silicone heat curing process. However, the food-grade silicone is odorless and tasteless, so after airing out, the product is good to go. Unfortunately, silicone can absorb odors from the refrigerator or freezer. So extra steps need to be taken to avoid this issue and Feedo offers help in their FAQs section on their website. If odors are absorbed, Kiddo Feedo has help for that too. While the odor issue might be a problem, in general, we like how easy these cubes are to use and the smaller size is perfect for individual portion control.
The Squeasy Gear Squeasy Snacker is food-grade silicone which makes it extremely durable. The wide neck and unique spout system make them easy to clean and it can be turned inside-out. We like that the system has two spout styles with "no-spill" or a "free-flow" options. This allows for tailoring to the age of the child. The free-flowing lid is similar to the store-bought pouches with a small opening to suck food through that is great for older kids. The no-spill insert is perfect for younger users who are still acquiring the dexterity required to hold a pouch without squeezing it all over. Liquids can also be used in the snacker for a collapsible hydration solution.
Younger children may love to squeeze the pouch a little too much which can equal a big mess if you don't use the no-spill spout. Also, younger kids may find it difficult and frustrating if they are unable to get all of the food out of the pouch. As mentioned in our section below on food pouches, you'll want to refrain from using pouches regularly as it prevents progression through age-appropriate feeding milestones. Outside of these concerns, we like the easy travel-friendly design of these pouches and think they may have a place in your food storage lineup.
The 6-pack of Wee Sprout Nature's Little Squeeze reusable, recyclable food pouches are a great solution for pouches at an economical price. They are top-rack dishwasher and freezer-safe and the wide bottom offers easy filling and the double zipper creates a secure seal. The pouches have a maximum fill line that helps prevent spilling and overfilling when sealing the zipper. The pouches have a clear window on the back, so you can see what is inside and there is a blank label for writing dates, contents, or baby's name.
These pouches are plastic, and we aren't big fans of plastics and their potential to leach chemicals into their contents. Plus, you'll need to clean or thoroughly rinse used pouches when empty as dried food makes cleaning a chore and the interior requires a bottle brush and a straw brush to thoroughly clean. Also, to prevent leaking, you need to ensure that the double zipper is fully closed. While the plastic is a concern, and rinsing is required, these pouches can be useful as a simple, economical solution for quick consumption while out and about.
The mumi&mubi Solids Starter Kit is a 2-pack of twenty-one 1 oz portion plastic trays with lids. This is a great system for large batch baby food prep as your baby can be fed a variety of foods from small portions. After a brief warm-up, whether a couple of minutes on the counter or by running them under warm water, the cubes are easy to release with a gentle push with your finger. The lids help prevent freezer burn and allow for stacking of the two trays together saving valuable freezer space.
Note that these trays are not meant to be twisted like ordinary ice cube trays to release the cubes; this could lead to breakage. They are also plastic, which isn't our favorite material as some plastics can leach chemicals into their contents. These issues aside, this system is good for storing larger batches of food which can reduce preparation time and effort by keeping back up food ready to go. Plus, if you remove the cubes shortly after they have frozen and put them in a glass container for long term storage, you limit the food's exposure to plastic and free the trays up for further use.
The Infantino Squeeze Station is our favorite pouch filling system. Pouches are a convenient way to store and use homemade puree, smoothies, and yogurt and the Infantino's tube filling system is easy to use and allows you to fill three pouches at a time without overfilling. The 10 pouches included with the purchase of the Squeeze Station are disposable and the station is top-rack dishwasher safe. You can purchase additional Infantino Squeeze Pouches in 50 or 100-packs, and the Squeeze Station also works with the Infantino Reusable Squeeze Pouch which is a reusable, silicone pouch in a 4.5 oz size.
The filling system works best with smooth purees without chunks to avoid the spout clogging. The spout hole is smaller than the size of a pea, so anything larger will cause issues. Attempting to force out larger chunks will cause leaking at the top of the spout or near the pouch. To avoid big messes and wasted food, we recommend using these pouches with smoothly pureed baby food only. However, if you know make a mean smooth puree and are looking for a straightforward simple way to fill pouches, then this station is a good find.
The Beaba Clip is a lightweight, break-free, convenient solution for on-the-go meals. The polypropylene plastic containers have volume markings on the side and are designed with vertical and horizontal locking mechanisms to keep the baby's food in one place. The set comes with two 2 oz and two 4 oz containers.
The Clips can be tricky to open when closed firmly, but gently twisting the base instead of the lid usually solves this problem. Also, because the Clips are plastic (which isn't our favorite), we recommend handwashing instead of using the dishwasher and avoiding use in a microwave. Overall, this option is good for a quick on-the-go snack once you learn the opening trick.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier heads up our baby food storage team. Dr. Spurrier is a Board Certified Pediatrician, mom of two kids, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). She uses her background as a pediatrician and mom experiences to select top-notch products for testing and review. She is also instrumental in creating BabyGearLab's safety standards.
The food storage system team head is Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz. Wendy is a mother of two and a reviewer with BabyGearLab for five years. From the beginning, Wendy has researched hundreds of products including baby food storage, baby food makers, bottles, sippy cups and water bottles, including research on the use of plastics and potential endocrine disruptors in containers used for contents intended for human consumption. Wendy's education and background help her analyze and test products with safety and ease of use in mind.
Making and storing homemade baby food is the best way to maximize nutrients in your baby's diet. Store-bought baby food typically undergoes a sterilization process to help create a longer shelf-life. This process heats food at high temperatures which diminishes the nutritional value and compromises the flavor. Homemade baby food can offer your baby a healthier diet than pre-packaged food.
Offering your baby fresh, homemade food allows them to enjoy a healthy variety of flavors and textures. Once you get the hang of it, you can make large batches of food and stock up for weeks. Check out our Review on the Best Baby Food Maker for help in finding the best products for creating great homemade baby food.
After creating your baby food, you can use it immediately, store it in the refrigerator, or freeze it. Some foods, like mashed avocado and banana, are best served right away as they don't store well and are quick to prepare. However, most foods require cooking and pureeing, so it is more convenient to prepare and store larger batches for future use. As your baby graduates to textured and chunky foods, blending a portion of the family meal and storing it can be a helpful time-saver. This process is also a great way to expose your baby to a variety of flavors to expand their palate. Basic food safety guidelines for storing your baby's food are outlined below.
To avoid contamination and ensure a safe food prep area, you should wash your hands, countertops, and utensils before beginning your prep.
Homemade baby food can be stored safely for a short period in the refrigerator when you follow some basic guidelines.
- Keep Refrigerator at 40°F or below — To prolong food freshness and minimize spoilage, set your refrigerator's temperature at or below 40°F. Optimal refrigeration temperature is at or near 37°F.
- Food Group Storage Limits — Fruit and vegetable purees can be stored for a maximum of 48 hours; meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are only good for up to 24-hour maximum.
- Toss Uneaten Food — Feed your baby an appropriate serving size and discard any food that isn't eaten. Never restore food that comes in contact with your baby's saliva. While it might seem convenient to stick the bowl in the fridge or wasteful to throw it away, the saliva from the serving spoon will be a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Store Baby's Food in Refrigerator Body — The coldest part of the refrigerator is in the main body far in the back. The door shelves are the warmest location and typically have inconsistent temperatures that will cause food to spoil sooner.
The following are strategies for freezer storage that will maximize the storage time and minimize spoilage of your baby's food.
- Keep the Freezer at 0 F or below — Although 32 F is the freezing point of water, food will deteriorate faster in a freezer kept between 0 F to 32 F. It is best to keep your freezer below 0 degrees to keep everything thoroughly frozen.
- Cool Food Completely Before Freezing — Once you make your baby's food, allow it to cool completely before placing it in the freezer; 30 to 60 minutes is usually enough. Do not let the food sit out longer than 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.
- Re-freezing — It is okay to make baby food from thawed, uncooked frozen fruits, vegetables, and meats. After they are cooked and pureed, it can be re-frozen one time.
- Freeze Baby Food For Up to 3 Months — Food typically lasts in the freezer for 3 to 6 months, although the quicker it is eaten, the better it will taste and the higher the nutritional value will be. The truth is, using it within 1 month of creation is best. This time frame can be prolonged by using a deep freezer, which can extend the lifespan up to 8 months.
- Label Container — Time has a way of moving quickly, so always label the container with the date for easy tracking. It is important that you know when the food is too old to serve and you are likely to forget when the food was made without a reminder.
- Water Crystals — Unprocessed food like fruits, veggies, and meats, naturally contain water. When frozen, the water will form crystals on top of the frozen purees. This water "crust" is not "freezer burn" and is perfectly fine to thaw and serve to baby.
Defrosting and Reheating
Defrosting baby food needs to be done properly so that it is safe to eat. There are three common methods to thaw food.
- Refrigerate until Thawed — Refrigeration is a great way to thaw food to maintain maximum nutritional value. Simply move the frozen, closed containers from the freezer to the fridge and leave them overnight. By morning, they should be ready to eat.
- Warm Water Bath — Place sealed baby food containers in a bowl of warm water until thawed. This process takes about 10 to 20 minutes. Defrosted food can stay in the refrigerator safely for about 48 hours.
- Microwave — Microwaving is our least favorite option as it can heat in a non-uniform manner creating scattered hot patches. If you choose to defrost frozen baby food or heat cold baby food, it is crucial that you thoroughly stir and check the temperature of the food before serving it to your baby to ensure it isn't hot. All it takes is one moment of forgetfulness to cause burns; for this reason, in our opinion, it is best to avoid microwaves altogether.
We recommend that you DO NOT use plastic containers for warming food. Studies reveal that some plastics can leach chemicals into their contents when heated. We feel it isn't worth the risk of leaching unhealthy components into baby's food and recommend that parents take the time to transfer food from plastic to a non-plastic container prior to heating.
Once defrosted, you can serve baby food cold, warm, or at room temperature. We recommend trying cold or room temperature food first. Most babes will be willing to eat food that hasn't been heated. If your little one dislikes the unheated food, we recommend gentle heating in a warm water bath over reheating in a microwave for the reasons already mentioned above.
Now that we've reviewed safe refrigeration, freezing, and thawing/reheating techniques, let's discuss the 3 different types of baby food storage solutions we presented in our above favorites.
Thawing frozen containers in the open air is not recommended. This process can result in unnecessary exposure to contaminants and bacteria that can infiltrate the food and potentially cause intestinal upset or illness.
Freezer trays are typically available in silicone and plastic with portion sizes varying from 0.75 oz to 3 oz. The silicone options tend to last longer as they don't become brittle from freezing as plastic does. However, silicone can absorb odors from the freezer easier than plastic. Once frozen, cubes from silicone trays should be stored in a Ziploc bag or glass container. While both silicone and plastic can be placed in the dishwasher on the top rack, we recommend handwashing for a more thorough cleaning. Plus, it avoids exposing them to the high temperatures and agitation of a dishwasher, which improves longevity and minimizes the opportunity for leaching chemicals into baby's food. A great freezer tray is the silicone Kiddo Feedo Freezer Tray.
The most popular storage containers are plastic because they are lightweight, shatterproof, and less expensive than glass. However, we prefer glass storage materials because glass doesn't leach chemicals into its contents. Unfortunately, glass is expensive, heavy, and breakable. For baby food storage, which usually includes freezing and heating temperatures, it is important to purchase either tempered or borosilicate heat-resistant glass, which is far less likely to break under the stress of temperature fluctuations than regular glass. In our opinion, this is money worth spent for peace of mind and safety when feeding family and friends.
For glass containers used for baby food storage, we like the OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks with Silicone Sleeves and the Wean Green Baby Starter Set; these sets are borosilicate and tempered, respectively. This is obviously important when it comes to food preparation and storage. However, even if you use tempered or borosilicate glass, you shouldn't go right from the freezer to a hot oven as this can test its limits to the point of failure. When tempered glass breaks, it falls into cubed-shaped pieces instead of shards like normal glass. This design reduces the risk of injury. Rarely, tempered glass can unexpectedly shatter, so as with all glassware, treating it with care is crucial. Heat-resistant glass is also not recyclable, which is something to consider. We also like that the OXO set has volume markings. These markings can be helpful when feeding your baby so you know how much they have eaten.
Pureed Food Pouches
Recently, food pouches with purees of fruits and veggies (some even blended with yogurt or meat) have become popular and your local baby food aisle is probably loaded thick with them. These options are "grab and open" convenient and help reduce low blood sugar meltdowns with minimal mess. Kids dig the fancy packaging and if it helps with kids eat more fruits and veggies then it's a win-win, right?
Well, not so fast. There's a time and a place for everything. Food pouches included.
It is important that parents are aware of the importance of spoon-feeding and the oral-motor development of the lips, tongue, and pharynx that accompany it. When starting solids and being introduced to the spoon, there are various important motions involved including scraping the food off of the spoon, pushing the thin puree to the back of the pharynx and swallowing a solid consistency, this motor movement is significantly different from the suck and swallow feeding motion your baby has performed thus far. In fact, working these oropharyngeal muscles is also developmentally important for speech, which is why you don't want to overdo pouches and deprive little ones of developing these important skills.
When babies take their first bite of purree or "solid food," they typically tongue-thrust the food out of their mouth because this is the food intake action they are used to making hen sucking. Moving food from the front to the back of the mouth requires learning a new skill. Like most things, time, practice, and patience are important when starting solids. Once your baby has gained skills with thin purees, the consistency of the puree can be gradually thickened. Ultimately, increasing the texture of the puree helps your baby learn to manipulate the food in their mouth. This process builds the skills they will need for small finger foods. Finger foods help babies practice their index finger-thumb pincer grasp, an important skill for many reasons. Once finger foods are introduced, your baby has a unique opportunity to expand their palate with new tastes and shapes which ultimately lays the foundation for a more mature flavor profile and healthy eating in the future.
Beyond the oral-motor issues that can occur with the daily use of pouches, there is more to consider. Part of learning about food and eating is experiencing it with multiple senses. Food in a pouch only provides the taste of the food. Babies do not get to experience it through sight, touch, or smell. All of the senses enhance the food and eating experience exponentially. While pouches can help increase your baby's consumption of extra vegetables they might not have otherwise eaten, seeing and recognizing food is an important part of learning about food. If you don't offer your baby the chance to see, smell and touch what they are eating, they might develop food aversions to texture and taste that can be very difficult to reverse if this critical window is missed.
While food pouches are our least preferred food delivery system, they can be a useful tool if used sparingly. We prefer that parents consider them a "last resort" method, limited to a few times a week for an on-the-go snack in a pinch.
Food pouches are available in reusable silicone and plastic, as well as disposable plastic. Plastic versions have a feeding spout on the top or side of the pouch. Many pouches include accessory filling systems or funnels to help put the pureed contents into the pouch. Reusable versions are hand-washable (our preferred method) or can be placed on the top rack in the dishwasher.
As already mentioned, cleaning a reusable plastic pouch is challenging if you let the food dry inside. For example, the spout and lid of the Wee Sprout Nature's Little Squeeze require extra attention to ensure that the leftover food is completely removed. This process is more challenging when the food is left to dry inside. The inside of pouches have multiple nooks and crannies that a dishwasher can miss leaving them unclean and it can take some elbow grease to get the corners clean. It is essential that the plastic pouches have a wide opening for filling and a double zipper to decrease the chance of spilling. Our favorite solution are silicone food pouches like the Squeasy Gear Squeasy Snacker as they are durable with a silicone body that makes them easier to clean and bacteria-resistant.
Finding the perfect baby food storage system can take a little bit of work, but with our comprehensive list, we believe your search will be a little easier. While each product has pros and cons, each product is designed to help make your life easier while extending the shelf-life of freshly prepared meals for your baby. The versatility they offer allows you to continue use beyond the baby food period.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Lindsay Selig