Best Baby Food Storage System
The OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks is our favorite storage system. It is durable thanks to its borosilicate glass material, which reduces the risk of breakage from sudden temperature changes or dropping. Plus, this material decreases the risk of chemical leaching, which may occur in plastic containers. The 4-pack of 4 oz sizes are perfect for purees, and the volume measurements on the container's side help you keep track of baby's consumption. This system includes a freezer tray for better organization. The snap-on plastic lids are helpful for baby meals on-the-go as they can go from freezer to a diaper bag without spilling a drop. We also appreciate the container's longevity as they can be of use after your little one 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 hand cleaning process, these containers are simple to clean as they have no troublesome nooks or crannies. We think they are a great storage choice for those who want to track volume consumption or fancy glass over plastic for storing food.
The 6-pack Wean Green Baby Starter Set is made of tempered glass, which is stronger than regular glass and can withstand more bumps and jolts than regular glass. These containers are freezer safe and can endure high heating temps without a problem. The snap-on locking lids are reliably leak-free. Without the plastic lid, these containers are oven safe up to 250° F, making them more versatile than much 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 to fit a range of needs. The glass portion of these containers is dishwasher safe, but as always, we recommend handwashing plastic parts.
The silicone seal on the lids of the Wean Green containers needs periodic cleaning and drying to prevent mold growth caused by trapped moisture and food particles. Other than this occasional maintenance requirement, we love the Wean Green storage system. The versatile components will serve your pantry well beyond the baby food phase. The various sizes are great for lunch box condiments, dips, and yogurt, plus reheating food away from home.
Read Review: Wean Green Wean Cubes
The Squeasy Gear Squeasy Snacker is made from a lightweight and durable food-grade silicone. The wide neck allows you to turn the pouch inside out, and the unique spout system is relatively easy 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 the child. The free-flowing lid is similar to store-bought pouches with a small opening to suck food through. 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 needed 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-shape 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.
The lids on this tray are silicone and don't snap and stay on well like other lids in the competition. Also, 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 fully 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 great 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, (this could mean 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 these trays like ordinary ice cube trays, as it can lead to breakage. We also don't like that these trays are made of plastic, as they have the potential to leach chemicals into your homemade baby food. These issues aside, this system can be useful for freezing larger batches of food, reducing 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 they have frozen and put them in a glass container for longer-term storage. This way, 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. 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, so 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 the 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, which is silicone.
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 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 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, it can be helpful to think 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. 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 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 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, 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 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, 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 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 the 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
There are 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 think it is a good idea to have a variety of options to use for different purposes.
Freezer trays are typically available in silicone or plastic and have 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, better yet, a glass container. While both silicone and plastic can go 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. An excellent silicone tray is the 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. Storing baby food usually includes freezing and heating temperatures, so it is important to purchase either heat-resistant tempered or borosilicate glass. It is far less likely to break under the stress of temperature fluctuations. We think this is money worth spent for peace of mind and safety when feeding your baby.
Our favorite glass containers are the OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks with Silicone Sleeves and the Wean Green Baby Starter Set. These sets are borosilicate and tempered glass, respectively. 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 limits to the point of failure. When tempered glass breaks, it falls into cubed-shaped pieces instead of shards like ordinary glass, which can reduce 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 appreciate that the OXO set has volume markings and find them 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 hangry 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.
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 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 that they are used to making when 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 essential when starting solids. Once your baby has gained skills with thin purees, you can gradually thicken the 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. Finger foods help babies practice their index finger-thumb pincer grasp, a valuable ability 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.
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. 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 integral 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 you miss this critical window.
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 usually have a zippered opening on the top or side for filling. Many pouches include accessory filling systems or funnels to help fill with pureed contents.
Cleaning a reusable plastic pouch can be extremely challenging if you let the food dry inside. Even if you attend to it immediately, the spout and lid of the Wee Sprout Nature's Little Squeeze still require extra attention to ensure that the leftover food is entirely gone. This process is exponentially more challenging when the food is left to dry inside. The insides of many plastic pouches have multiple nooks and crannies that a dishwasher can miss. When handwashing, you have to use some elbow grease to get the corners clean. The plastic pouches must have a wide opening for filling and a double zipper to decrease 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.
Finding the perfect baby food storage system can take some thought and consideration. However, with our comprehensive list and research, we believe your search will be a little 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. The versatility they offer allows you to continue use beyond the baby food period.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD, Wendy Schmitz & Molly Bradac