Best Baby Food Storage System
Quickly rising to the top for multiple reasons, the OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks is one of our favorite storage systems. Its borosilicate glass design holds benefits and versatility. This material is durable, can tolerate sudden temperature changes, and is less likely to break from drops and falls. Plus, in regards to health and safety, it is less likely to leach chemicals, a potential concern with plastic containers. The 4-pack of 4 oz sizes are ideal for purees, and we appreciate the volume markings on the container's side to help track your baby's consumption. This system includes a freezer tray for better organization. The snap-on plastic lids make this system portable for meals on-the-go, and we like that they can move from freezer to diaper bag without spilling a drop. These containers provide longevity, providing service after your baby has moved on from soft foods.
While the glass portion is dishwasher-safe, we recommend hand washing to protect the volume markings. Also, we advise handwashing the plastic lid and silicone gasket to prevent potential degradation related to high temperatures. Despite the handwashing process, we think these containers are simple to clean, plus they have no troublesome nooks or crannies. So, if you fancy glass over plastic and prefer a system with volume markings to track your baby's consumption, we highly recommend this option.
The Wean Green Baby Starter Set includes two 4 oz Wean Cubes, two 5 oz Wean Tubs, and two 5.4 oz Wean Bowls, creating a diverse feeding system to fit various needs. The containers are tempered glass, a material type that is stronger and more resistant to thermal shock than regular glass. For instance, these containers are freezer safe and can endure high heating temps without a problem. The set also includes plastic snap-on locking lids that are reliably leak-free. Without the lids, these containers are oven safe up to 250° F, which adds an extra dose of versatility. The glass portion of these containers are dishwasher safe, but as always, we recommend handwashing plastic parts.
The silicone seal on the lids will need some occasional cleaning and thorough drying to prevent mold growth caused by trapped moisture and food particles. Besides periodic maintenance requirements, we love the Wean Green storage system. We consider the system's components versatile and will serve your pantry well beyond the baby food stage. The various sizes are excellent for lunch box condiments, dips, yogurt, and more, plus reheating food away from home. So, if you seek functionality and versatility, we think this system is excellent.
Read Review: Wean Green Wean Cubes
The Squeasy Gear Squeasy Snacker is made of lightweight and durable food-grade silicone. The wide neck allows you to turn the pouch inside out for easier cleaning, plus the unique spout system is relatively simple to clean. We appreciate that the system has two spout styles with either a "no-spill" or a "free-flow" mode. These options allow you to tailor the pouch's performance to the age of your child. The free-flowing lid is similar to most squeeze pouches with a small opening to suck food through, and we like to use this option for older kids that have a bit more motor control. The no-spill insert is perfect for younger users who are still acquiring the skill required to hold a pouch without squeezing out the contents.
If you don't use the no-spill spout, younger children may squeeze the pouch a little too tightly, causing a big mess. Also, younger kids may find it challenging to get all the food out of the pouch. Despite these minor drawbacks, we think these reusable pouches are travel-friendly and deserve a place in your food storage lineup for trips away from home.
The Kiddo Feedo Freezer Tray stands out among the competition for a few reasons. This food-grade, flexible silicone tray has 9 dome-shaped sections, each about 2.6 oz in size, holding the perfect amount for a single feeding. The tray creates frozen cubes that easily pop out of their cold nest and store together in a larger container. The tray is labeled oven safe up to 446° F, so you can use it to whip up muffins or mini-egg dishes. Unlike glass, silicone is more durable, and it won't get brittle like plastic. The Kiddo Feedo silicone is free of phthalates, PVC, BPA, lead, latex, and nitrosamine. Plus, it undergoes strict quality control inspections. While it is dishwasher safe, we recommend soaking and handwashing for greater longevity.
While testing, we noticed that the tray's silicone lid doesn't snap-on and stay as well compared to other lids in the competition. The Feedo system has a "just out of the box" chemical smell that prompted us to air it out before the first use. 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 the initial airing out, the product is good to go. Unfortunately, silicone can absorb odors from the refrigerator or freezer where it is stored. You must take extra steps to avoid this issue, and Feedo offers help in their FAQs section on their website. If odors are absorbed, Kiddo Feedo has a remedy for that. While the smells may be a problem for some, in general, we like how easy this tray is to use, and the smaller size is perfect for individual portion control.
The Wee Sprout Nature's Little Squeeze are reusable and recyclable food pouches (available in a 6-pack) at an economical price. They are safe to go in the freezer and are top-rack dishwasher. However, with plastic, we recommend handwashing with a bottle brush. The wide bottom offers easy filling, and the double zipper creates a secure seal that won't leak. 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 your baby's name.
These pouches are plastic, and we aren't big fans of this material due to the potential of chemicals leaching into the baby's food. Also, you'll need to thoroughly rinse or clean each pouch once empty because food remnants can make cleaning difficult, and we suggest using a bottle and straw brush for thoroughly cleaning the interior. To prevent leaking, ensure that the double zipper is fully closed. While plastic is a concern, and some extra cleaning care is necessary, we think these pouches are a simple, economical solution for a quick snack while out and about.
The mumi&bubi Solids Starter Kit comes with two lidded freezer trays, each of which has twenty-one 1 oz portions similar in shape to an ice cube. This system is good for large batch baby food prep as your baby can have a variety of foods during a single meal, thanks to the small portion sizes. After a brief warm-up (perhaps a couple of minutes on the counter or a few seconds submerged in warm water), the cubes are easy to release with a gentle push of the finger. The lids help prevent freezer burn and stack the two trays on top of one another for convenient storage.
When you remove the food from their pockets, you cannot twist the trays like standard ice cube trays, as this can cause possible breakage. The trays are plastic, and we prefer other materials over plastic, especially when it comes to baby food, considering the potential of plastic leaching chemicals into your homemade baby food. These issues aside, this system can be useful for freezing larger food batches and can reduce preparation time and effort by keeping back up food ready to go. If you choose to use these trays, we recommend removing the cubes shortly after frozen and putting them in a glass container for longer-term storage. This way, you limit the food's exposure to plastic and free up the trays for further use.
The Infantino Squeeze Station is our favorite pouch filling system. It is easy to use and allows you to fill 3 bags at a time without spilling or overfilling. The Squeeze Station includes 10 disposable pouches, and we advise ordering extras to keep them on hand. The station itself is top-rack dishwasher safe, and since it won't come into contact with your baby's food, we have no problem cleaning it this way (although we recommend handwashing the upper tubes). You can purchase additional Infantino Squeeze Pouches in 50 or 100-packs. But, if you prefer a more eco-friendly and non-plastic option, the Squeeze Station also works with the Infantino Reusable Squeeze Pouch, a product made of silicone material.
The filling system works best with very smooth purees sans chunks; otherwise, you run the risk of clogging the spout. The spout hole is smaller than the size of a pea, so anything more substantial than that will cause issues. Attempting to force out larger chunks will cause leaking at the spout's top 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 have a good baby food maker that can whip up a smooth puree and need a simple way to fill pouches, then this station is a good find.
The Beaba Clip is a lightweight, durable, and convenient solution for on-the-go meals. The polypropylene plastic containers have volume markings on the side and vertical and horizontal snaps that allow multiple containers to lock together. This way, you can keep all of your baby's food in one place. The set comes with two 2 oz and two 4 oz containers. Since these are plastic, they are much more durable than other options, and you don't have to worry as much when tossing them in a diaper bag.
The Clips can be tricky to open when closed firmly, but gently twisting the base instead of the lid usually solves this problem. Also, the Beaba Clip system is plastic, which we don't like as much. Because of this, we recommend you handwash these containers instead of putting them in the dishwasher. We also advise you to avoid the microwave when using these. Overall, this option is suitable for a quick on-the-go snack that isn't as fragile.
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 leader 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.
When considering the value of a food storage system, we suggest thinking beyond the soft food stage. Some systems, such as the OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks extend their usefulness long past that point and are perfect for packing small snacks once your child goes to school. Others, like the Kiddo Feedo Freezer Tray, are a great way to make yummy smoothie pops or other frozen snacks for kids. These storage options can seem more expensive, but they are much more versatile, a tradeoff that we think is worth it. However, you may not see yourself using such tiny containers in the long run, or you are already up to your ears in food storage items. In this case, you may only want a short-term solution that is specifically for a baby. With this kind of option, you will generally get more bang for your buck, at least in the short term. You may also get something more convenient for specific on-the-go situations, like the Wee Sprout Nature's Little Squeeze. Purchasing certain systems can provide years of additional use, but it is only logical if you plan to continue using the containers. But, who doesn't want more ways to organize their kitchen?
Food Storage 101
Making and storing homemade baby food is the best way to maximize nutrients in your baby's diet. Packaged 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 also allows them to enjoy a healthy variety of flavors and textures. With the help of a good baby food maker, you can prep large batches of healthy baby meals and stock up for weeks.
How to Store and When to Use
After creating your baby food, you have three options. You can use it immediately, store it in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze it for future use. 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 make and store larger batches. 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 various flavors to expand their palate.
To avoid contamination and ensure a safe food prep area, you should wash your hands, countertops, and utensils before beginning.
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. The optimal refrigeration temperature is approximately 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 a 24-hour maximum.
- Toss Uneaten Food — Feed your baby an appropriate serving size and discard any leftover food. 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, 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 when kept anywhere 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 one month of creation is best. You can prolong this time frame by using a deep freezer, extending 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 essential that you know when the food is too old to serve, and you are likely to forget when you made the food unless you have 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
You need to learn how to defrost baby food correctly so that it is safe to eat. We do not recommend thawing frozen containers in the open air as it can result in unnecessary exposure to contaminants and bacteria that can infiltrate the food and potentially cause intestinal upset or illness. Here are three safer methods to thaw frozen baby food.
- Refrigerate until Thawed — Refrigeration is a great way to thaw food to maintain maximum nutritional value. 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, we think 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 before 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 isn't warm. If your little one dislikes unheated food, we recommend gentle heating in a warm water bath over reheating in a microwave for the reasons mentioned above.
Now that we've reviewed safe refrigeration, freezing, and thawing/reheating techniques, let's discuss the three different types of baby food storage solutions we presented in our above favorites.
Styles of Food Storage Systems
Our review includes three main types of food storage containers: freezer trays, lidded containers, and food pouches. Each has its benefits, and every parent will have a preference depending on their lifestyle. We suggest having a few options on hand for different purposes.
Freezer trays are typically available in silicone or 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 in the way plastic does. However, silicone can absorb odors from the freezer easier than plastic. Once they are frozen, you should store cubes from these trays in a plastic baggie or glass container. While both silicone and plastic can go in the dishwasher on the top rack, we recommend handwashing. Plus, it avoids exposing them to the high temperatures and agitation of a dishwasher, which can improve longevity and minimize the opportunity for leaching chemicals into baby's food. An excellent silicone tray is the Kiddo Feedo Freezer Tray.
We understand why plastic storage containers tend to be popular. They are lightweight, shatterproof, and less expensive than glass. However, we prefer using glass over other materials because glass doesn't leach chemicals into its contents. But, glass has a few downsides. It is more expensive. But, the price of glass is worth the peace of mind and safety when feeding your baby. Also, it is heavier and breakable. Since storing baby food usually involves freezing and heating temperatures, purchasing either heat-resistant tempered or borosilicate glass is necessary. It is less likely to break under the stress of temperature fluctuations.
Our favorite glass containers include the OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks with Silicone Sleeves and the Wean Green Baby Starter Set. We appreciate the volume markings on the OXO to observe how much a baby has eaten, and these sets are made of borosilicate glass and tempered glass, respectively. Despite which glass option you select, you shouldn't go right from the freezer to a hot oven, as this can test limits to the point of failure. When tempered glass breaks, it falls into cubed-shaped pieces instead of shards like ordinary glass, reducing the chance of injury. Rarely, tempered glass can unexpectedly shatter (as with all glassware), so treat it with care. Also, heat-resistant glass is not recyclable, which is something to consider.
Pureed Food Pouches
Food pouches with purees of fruits and veggies (some even blended with yogurt or meat) have become popular and often seen in supermarkets' baby food aisles. These "grab and open" options are convenient and help reduce hangry meltdowns with minimal mess. Plus, if it helps kids eat more fruits and veggies, then it's a win-win.
Well, not so fast. There's a time and a place for everything. Food pouches included.
Parents should be 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 essential motions involved, including scraping the food off 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. Working these oropharyngeal muscles is also valuable for speech development, which is why you don't want to overdo pouches and deprive little ones of developing these critical skills.
When babies begin to eat "solid food" or purees, they typically make a tongue-thrust motion, pushing food out of their mouth. This food intake action is what they are used to when sucking, and learning to move food from the front of their mouths to the back is a new skill. Like most things, time, practice, and patience are essential when starting solids. Once your baby has strengthened this skill with thin purees, you can gradually offer foods with a thicker consistency. Ultimately, increasing the puree texture helps your baby learn to manipulate the food in their mouth. This process builds the skills they will need for small finger foods. Once finger foods are introduced, babies need to practice their index finger-thumb pincer grasp, a valuable skill for several reasons.
Besides oral-motor issues that can occur with daily use of pouches, there are additional factors to consider. Part of learning about food and eating is experiencing it with multiple senses. Food in a pouch only provides the taste, removing babies' ability to experience food through sight, touch, or smell. Stimulating all of the senses enhances the food and eating experience. While pouches can be advantageous, such as increasing your baby's consumption of extra vegetables that they may not otherwise eat, we believe seeing and recognizing food is an essential part of learning about food. If you don't offer your baby the chance to see, smell, and touch what they are eating, they may develop food aversions to texture and taste that can be very difficult to reverse if you miss this critical window.
In our opinion, food pouches are our least preferred food delivery system, but we recognize that they can be useful 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, along with disposable plastic. Plastic versions typically have a zippered opening on the top or side for filling. Also, many pouches include accessory filling systems or funnels to help the process when filling pureed contents.
Cleaning a reusable plastic pouch can be challenging, thanks to nooks and crannies that can be hard to reach by hand and even missed by dishwashers. Therefore, we prefer plastic pouches that have a wide opening for filling and a double zipper to decrease the chance of spilling. Overall our favorite solutions are silicone food pouches, like the Squeasy Gear Squeasy Snacker because they are durable and have an easier-to-clean silicone body that is also bacteria-resistant. While testing, we noticed that the spout and lid of the Wee Sprout Nature's Little Squeeze requires extra attention to ensure that leftover food is entirely gone. This process is exponentially more challenging when food is left to dry inside.
Finding the perfect baby food storage system can take some planning and consideration. We believe our comprehensive list and research will kick start the process and make the search easier. While each product has pros and cons, any system will help make your life easier by extending the shelf-life of freshly prepared meals for your baby. Plus, they offer versatility, allowing you to continue use beyond the baby food stage.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD, Wendy Schmitz & Molly Bradac