Homemade baby food is a great way to incorporate fresh, quality ingredients into your baby's daily diet, but how to store baby food is a key question. It can definitely be a comfort to know exactly what is in the nutrition you are feeding your baby. In the quest to make this process easier, we tested leading storage containers, freezer trays, and pouches and have shared the best options with you in this round-up.
Read on to discover the perfect food storage systems for you, your budget, and your baby. You may also be interested in our Best Baby Food Maker Review for more information on making baby food.
Best Baby Food Storage Systems Review
OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks with Silicone Sleeves
The 4-pack of OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks is our favorite storage system for baby food. We prefer glass, as it mitigates the risk of leaching chemicals that may occur from plastic containers. The OXO's chunky, durable body is made of borosilicate glass which reduces the risk of breakage due to sudden temperature change going from freezer storage to immediate warming. The 4-ounce portion sizes are a perfect size for an infant feeding portion of solids and there are volume measurements on the side of the container to easily keep track of how much baby has eaten. The included freezer tray makes the system store nicely and silicone sleeves and leakproof snap-on plastic lids make for easy on the go baby meals straight from the freezer to a diaper bag.
Perfect size for older infants
Glass body with silicone sleeve
Silicone gasket needs cleaning
While the glass portion is dishwasher-safe, you may want to handwash them to prevent the volume markings from fading over time. In addition, we recommend handwashing the plastic lid in warm, soapy water. You will want to periodically remove the lid's silicone gasket for thorough cleaning. Be forewarned that even borosilicate glass can break or chip, so treat these with care as with any glass container.
Variability in Size & Shape
Wean Green Baby Starter Set
The 6-pack Wean Green Baby Starter Set is made of tempered glass which is considerably stronger than regular glass and can withstand falls. They can go from the freezer to heating to the dishwasher without issues. They are also oven-safe up to 250F, without the plastic lid, of course. As always, we recommend handwashing plastic in warm soapy water, avoiding hot temperatures and agitation of the dishwasher. The plastic locking lids are leak-free. This set includes two 4oz. Wean Cubes, two 5 oz. Wean Tubs, and two 5.4 oz. Wean Bowls. However, Wean Green offers glass storage containers up to 36 oz making them great for packing snacks, lunches, and leftovers.
Tempered glass body
Snapping lid on requires some muscle
Lid's silicone gasket requires cleaning
Be forewarned that the silicone seal of the Wean Green Lid needs to be removed periodically for thorough cleaning and drying, otherwise trapped moisture and food particles can cause mold growth. Here is a helpful YouTube video that demonstrates the proper way to remove and replace the seal, which can also be useful if you are having difficulty getting the lids to securely snap into place. Other than this maintenance issue, we love this Wean Green storage system. It will serve your pantry well beyond the baby food phase. The Baby Starter Set containers are great for lunch box salad dressings, dips and yogurt and the larger Wean Green containers for reheating food away from home.
Read Review: Wean Green Wean Cubes
Multi-Purpose Silicone Tray
Kiddo Feedo Freezer Tray
Body: Silicone | Volume: 2.6 oz. portions
We like the 9-portion Kiddo Feedo Freezer Tray because its 2.6-ounce dome-shaped cubes are well-sized for infant feeding. Both the lid and tray are food-grade, flexible silicone which according to the manufacturer consists of "four, abundant and readily available natural elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and silicone." Frozen cubes of pureed food or liquid easily pop out of their cold nest. These trays are labeled oven safe up to 446 F so there is multi-purpose use for whipping up muffins or mini-egg dishes for baby. And, because silicone is non-breakable, it can function as a fun multi-snack presentation for older toddlers. While it is dishwasher safe, it is also very easy to handwash which we recommend. Lastly, we like its sealable silicone lid which won't become brittle and crack over time as plastic can.
Frozen items pop out easily
Food-grade silicone tray & lid
Easy to clean
Silicone lid may be tricky
Silicone may retain odors
Since the lids are made of silicone, they won't "snap" on like a plastic lid will. Instead, there are small tabs that need to be hooked around the edges in multiple places for a secure fit. If your new Feedo system has a "just out of the box" smell to it, Kiddo Feedo recommends good old-fashioned airing out as the best remedy to resolve this possible issue. On their FAQ page, Kiddo Feedo explains that this odor particular odor is a result of the silicone heat curing process used to solidify liquid silicone into its flexible tray mold. That said, the food-grade silicone used here is odorless and tasteless so after airing out, the product is good to go. Kiddo Feedo assures that their silicone is free of phthalates, PVC, BPA, lead, latex, and nitrosamine with strict quality control inspections. Once in use, if your Feedo system begins to retain odors this is because silicone can absorb them, usually those from the refrigerator or freezer. To avoid this, Kiddo Feedo recommends cooling purees down before putting them into the tray, avoid keeping tray in the freezer for a prolonged period of time by popping cubes out and storing them in a separate freezer-safe container when they are ready, and lastly, making sure that other items are sealed well and the freezer is in good working order. If bothersome odors have absorbed into your tray, Kiddo Feedo recommends one of the following methods to get rid of the smell:
- Rub silicone in lime, leave overnight, then boil on the stove for 10-15 min. the following day
- For 15 to 20 minutes, either boil in water, OR microwave on high, OR put in 240 F oven
- Soak in vinegar and water overnight and rinse the following day
Best Pouch Solution
Squeasy Gear Squeasy Snacker
The Squeasy Gear Squeasy Snacker is made of food-grade silicone making it extremely durable, especially when compared to reusable plastic pouches. And, the wide neck and unique spout system make them so much easier to clean; for thorough cleaning, it can be turned completely inside-out. The system allows for two spout mechanisms, either a "no-spill" or a "free flow", so it can be tailored to the age of the child using it. The free-flowing lid is similar to the store bought pouches with a small opening to freely suck the food through, great for older kids. The no-spill insert is geared toward the younger user who is still figuring the dexterity to hold a pouch without squeezing it all over themselves. Liquids can also be used in the snacker for a collapsible on the go hydration solution.
Offered in several volume sizes
Hard to squeeze everything out
Younger children may love to squeeze the pouch a little too much and not necessarily when it is in the mouth which can equal a big mess. Using the no-spill insert should eliminate this problem. In addition, younger kids may find it difficult and frustrating that they are unable to get all of the food completely out of the pouch. As mentioned below in our Buying Advice discussing food pouches, refrain from using pouches regularly with little ones as it is important for them to progress through age-appropriate feeding milestones, such as spoon feeding and graduating from thin to thicker purees to textured foods and ultimately self-feeding.
Pefect Small Portions for Starting Solids
mumi&bubi Solids Starter Kit
The mumi&mubi Solids Starter Kit is a 2-pack of twenty-one 1-ounce portion plastic trays with lids. This is a great system for large batch baby food prep (total of 42-ounces of baby food) as baby can be fed a variety of foods from small portions. After a brief warm-up, whether a couple minutes on the counter or by running them under warm water, the cubes are easy to release with a gentle push with your finger. Cubes made from fruit will slide out a bit easier than veggies because of the higher natural sugar content. The lids help prevent freezer burn and allow for stacking of the two trays together.
Easy to release cubes
Great for freezing bulk-made food
Included stacking lids
Tray may break if twisted
Note that these trays are not meant to be twisted to get a cube or cubes out. This may lead to breakage. They are easily released by pushing on one edge of a cube. However, if a cube is really frozen in there, again, don't twist the tray! Just run the back of cubes you want to remove under warm water before trying again.
Best Reusable Plastic Pouch
Wee Sprout Nature's Little Squeeze
The 6-pack of Wee Sprout Nature's Little Squeeze reusable, recyclable food pouches is a great solution for a reusable pouch at an economical price. They are both top-rack dishwasher and freezer-safe. The wide bottom makes for easy filling and the double zipper creates a secure seal. In order to avoid overfilling, make sure you pay attention to the "max fill" line on the back of the pouch for easier sealing of the zipper. There is a small clear window on the back of the pouch to see contents and there is a blank label area for child's name or contents with a dry erase marker.
Clear window to see what is inside
Dishwasher and freezer safe
Dried food is hard to clean
Can leak if not sealed properly
We advise cleaning or at least thoroughly rinsing a used food pouch shortly after contents have been consumed as dried up food can make cleaning more laborious. Interior spots can be accessed with a bottle brush and we recommend taking a small straw brush to thoroughly clean the inside of the spout. Of course, you much ensure the double zipper is secured well to avoid leakage.
Pouch Filling System for Smooth Purees
Infantino Squeeze Station
The Infantino Squeeze Station is our favorite pouch filling system compared to the Kiinde and Squooshi systems. Pouches are a convenient way to store and use homemade puree, smoothies, and yogurt. The Infantino's tube filling system is easy to use and allows you to fill three pouches at a time without concern of overfilling. The station can be cleaned in the top rack of the dishwasher. The 10 pouches that are included with the purchase of the Squeeze Station are disposable. Additional Infantino Squeeze Pouches are available in either 50 or 100-packs. However, the Squeeze Station also works with the Infantino Reusable Squeeze Pouch which is a reusable, silicone 4.5-ounce pouch, if preferred.
Easy to use
Easy to clean
Chunky puree can clog spout
Can get messy
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. If this happens, you will need to blend the contents finer or fish out the offending chunk. If you do experience a backup and you force the situation, food can be pushed out of either the top of the spout or the pouch if it is screwed on too tightly. To avoid a potentially big mess and wasted baby food, just make sure you only use smoothly pureed baby food in this system. It could also squirt out the top of the pouch if it is screwed on too tightly. However, if you know the puree you make is nice and smooth, then you shouldn't have any issue making this a great convenient option for filling pouches.
Great For On-The-Go Meals
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 baby's food together in one place. The set comes with two 2-ounce and two 4-ounce containers.
Clip together system
Volume markings on container
Difficult to open
Nonetheless, the Clips can be very tricky to open if firmly closed. The last thing you need when you have a hungry child is to be unable to get the food into their mouths. The trick here is to not squeeze the lid firmly, as it seems as though the harder you try to open it, the more resistant it is. A gentle twist of the base instead of the lid solves this problem. Because these are plastic, we recommend handwashing these containers in warm, soapy water instead of in the dishwasher to reduce material breakdown and leaching. We do not recommend heating plastic in the microwave.
Making and storing your own 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 ensure a longer shelf life. This heats food at high temperatures for a longer period of time which has a negative consequence of diminishing nutritional value and compromising maximum flavor (those interested in learning more here will want to delve into an exploration of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and phytonutrients of which there are thousands (like anthocyanidins, beta-carotene, and lutein) having diverse functions such as antiinflammatory or antioxidant effects, — or you can simply take our word for it that homemade baby food can offer your baby a healthier diet than pre-packaged food).
Check out our Review of the Best Baby Food Maker for help in choosing the best products to simplify the process of making homemade baby food.
After making a batch of baby food, you can feed it immediately, store it in the refrigerator, and/or freeze it. Some foods like mashed avocado and banana are better and easier to make and serve right away. But most require cooking and pureeing, so you might as well make a large batch and freeze some for extended convenience. And, as your baby graduates along the food chain to more textured and chunkier foods, blending a portion of the family meal and both serving and storing is a helpful time-saver as well as an important method for exposing a baby to a variety of flavors for palate expansion.
Below we review basic food safety guidelines when storing baby's food.
Always make sure to have clean, washed hands when preparing baby's food and maintain a clean environment to avoid contamination.
Homemade baby food can safely be stored for a short period in the refrigerator by following the guidelines below:
- Keep Refrigerator at 40°F or below — To prolong food freshness and minimize spoilage, make sure that the refrigerator's temperature stays at or below 40°F. In fact, for optimal refrigeration, hovering around 37°F is best.
- Food Group Storage Limits — Fruit and vegetable purees can be stored for a maximum of 48 hours whereas meat, poultry, fish, and eggs follow a maximum 24-hour rule.
- Toss Uneaten Food — Feed your baby an appropriately sized serving and discard what goes unfinished. Never restore food from the container from which baby just fed as saliva will breed bacterial growth in it.
- Store Baby's Food in Refrigerator Body — The coldest part of the refrigerator is in its main body, in the very back. The warmest part is on the door shelving. Keep the baby food on the shelf in the refrigerator, not on the door, as the shelf will keep the most consistently cool temperature.
The following are strategies for freezer storage that will maximize the storage time of your baby's food and minimize spoilage.
- Keep Freezer at 0 F or below — Although 32 F is the freezing point of water, food will deteriorate quicker in the freezer if between 0 F to 32 F, so best to keep it below 0 F to keep everything in there thoroughly frozen.
- Cool Food Completely Before Freezing — Once baby's food is made, allow it to cool completely before freezing. 30 to 60 minutes is usually enough. Do not let it sit out longer than 2 hours, however, to prevent bacterial growth.
- Re-freezing — It is fine to make baby food from thawed, uncooked frozen fruits, vegetables, and meats. After they are cooked and pureed, it can be frozen just that once.
- Freeze Baby Food For Up to 3 Months — Food can typically last in the freezer for 3 to 6 months, although the quicker it is eaten, the better it will retain its flavor and nutritional value. The truth is, using it within 1 month of creation is best. However, this time frame can be prolonged by using a deep freezer which can extend lifespan up to 8 months.
- Label Container — Time has a way of getting away from us, so always label the container with the date for easy tracking. You definitely don't want to roll the dice with baby.
- Water Crystals — Unprocessed food like fruits, veggies, and meats, naturally have water content. When frozen, water crystals will form on top of frozen purees. This is not freezer burn and is perfectly fine to thaw and serve to baby.
Defrosting and Reheating
Defrosting baby food needs to be done appropriately so that it is safe for feeding. There are three main ways to do this.
- Refrigerate Until Thawed — Pretty self-explanatory, but this is actually a great way to thaw food to maintain maximum nutritional value. Simply move the frozen and closed containers from the freezer to the fridge. Leave them overnight. By morning, they will be thawed and ready to use.
- Warm Water Bath — Place sealed baby food in a bowl of warm water until thawed. About 10 to 20 minutes usually does the trick. Defrosted food can safely stay in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
- Microwave — Microwaving is our least favorite option as it tends to heat in a non-uniform manner creating scattered hot pockets. If you do choose to defrost frozen baby food or gently heat cold baby food, it is imperative that once done, you thoroughly stir and check the temperature of the food before serving it to baby to ensure it is not too hot. That said, all it takes is one moment of forgetfulness with severe results so, in our opinion, it is just best to avoid the temptation altogether.
We recommend that you DO NOT use plastic containers for warming food in the microwave. It just isn't worth the risk of leaching unhealthy plastic components into baby's food.
Once defrosted, you can serve baby food cold, warm, or at room temperature. We recommend first seeing if your baby will happily eat cold or room temperature food. Most will. If not, then we'd recommend gentle heating in a warm water bath rather than heating in a microwave for the reasons noted 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 as it results in unnecessary exposure to contaminants and bacteria that may get into the food.
Freezer trays are typically available in both silicone and plastic versions with portion size varying from 0.75 oz. to 3 oz. Silicone tends to last longer as it doesn't become brittle over time from freezing like plastic can. However, silicone absorbs odors easier than plastic so minimize odors by making sure that everything in the freezer is well-sealed. Once frozen, cubes in silicone trays should be stored in a Ziploc bag or glass container. While both silicone and plastic can be dish washed on the top rack, we recommend handwashing them for more thorough cleaning and not exposing them to the high temperatures and agitation of a dishwasher for longevity and to minimize leaching potential into baby's food.
The most common storage containers are plastic. They command popularity for being lightweight, shatterproof, and less expensive than glass. However, our preferred storage material is glass because glass doesn't leach. The big con is that glass is expensive, heavy, and breakable. Thus, for baby food storage which usually takes a container from freezing to heating temperatures (and vice versa), it is important to purchase either tempered or borosilicate heat-resistant glass which is less much less likely to break with rapid temperature fluctuations than regular glass containers. In our opinion, this is money worth spent for peace of mind and safety when feeding family and friends.
OXO Tot Glass Blocks and the Wean Green Baby Starter Set because these sets are borosilicate and tempered, respectively. These are more durable than regular glass and are less likely to crack or shatter when exposed to thermal shock (i.e. going from freezing to warm temperatures suddenly or vice versa). This is obviously very important when it comes to food preparation and storage. That said, even if you are using tempered or borosilicate glass, do not have it go right from the freezer to a hot oven as this will very likely test its limits. When tempered glass breaks, it does so into cubed-shaped pieces rather than into shards like normal glass does. This reduces the risk of injury. Rarely, however, tempered glass can unexpectedly and spontaneously shatter, so as with all glassware, treating it with care is important. Another downside to heat-resistant glass is that it is not recyclable.
We do like that the OXO set has volume markings. Because containers hold more volume than freezer tray portions starting from 4 ounces and upwards, these markings can be helpful when feeding baby.
Pureed Food Pouches
Over the past few years, food pouches filled with yummy, wholesome purees of fruits and veggies (some even blended with yogurt or meat) have become increasingly popular such that the baby food aisle is loaded thick with them and kiddos are sucking them down like crazy. It's no wonder as they are "grab and open" convenient and help reduce imminent meltdowns with minimal mess. Kids dig the fancy packaging and, hey, if it helps with fruits and veggies intake, it's a win-win, right?
Not so fast. There's a time and a place for everything. Food pouches included.
Like with most things in life, time, consistency, and patience are important with starting solids. Once baby has gained skills with thin purees, the consistency of the puree is gradually thickened. Ultimately, increasing the texture of the puree is what is required before introducing small-sized finger foods by which babies can practice their index finger-thumb pincer grasp. Once finger foods are introduced, your baby has a unique opportunity to expand their palate with varied savory and spiced tastes and shapes which ultimately lays the foundation for a more mature flavor profile and healthy eating in their future.
Beyond the oral-motor concerns that daily use of pouches can create, there is much more to think about. Part of learning about food and eating is experiencing it through multiple senses. Food in a pouch only offers you to taste the food. You do not get to experience it visually or through touch or smell. All of which enhance the food experience exponentially. While it may help in getting some extra vegetables into your baby that they may otherwise not be interested in, seeing and recognizing what you are eating is an important part of learning about food. If you are not offering your baby the chance to see, smell and touch what they are eating, food aversions to texture and taste can develop which can be very difficult to reverse if this critical window is missed.
Although food pouches are our least preferred means of feeding babies for mainly the above reasons, they are a handy tool if used on occasion. We like to think of them as a "last resort" option, perhaps a few times a week when on-the-go in a pinch.
As mentioned, cleaning a reusable plastic pouch can be troublesome if you allow the food to become dry before cleaning. For example, the spout and lid of the Wee Sprouts Nature's Little Squeeze require extra attention to make sure that the leftover food is completely washed away, which can be a bit more difficult if the food has dried. There are several nooks and crannies to clean that the dishwasher could miss. Even so, it does take some elbow grease to get it really clean. It is important that plastic pouches have a wide opening for filling as well as a double zipper to reduce the risk of spillage. Our favorite solution is silicone food pouches like the Squeasy Gear Squeasy Snacker as they are durable with the silicone body making them easier to clean and more bacteria-resistant.
Finding the perfect baby food storage system can take some work. With our narrowed down list we hope to make your search easier. While each has their own pros and cons, these are wonderful products designed to help make your life a little easier. The versatility that they offer will allow you to use them beyond the baby food years.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Lindsay Selig
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