Baby food makers are an excellent addition to the new parent "must have" list. Available since the early 1990's in Europe, and in the U.S. for just over a decade, baby food makers have saved millions of parents time and energy when making fresh, wholesome purees. And the systems have gotten much better over the years, with higher reliability, more powerful motors, and phthalate-free plastics.
Carrots? Peas? Sweet potato? Got it. Fun and healthy dessert blends like banana blueberry puree? No problem. Once you get your hands on a good baby food maker you'll be inventing recipes like a professional chef! And your baby will love you for it. By the way, our favorite baby puree recipe book is on Amazon: 201 Organic Baby Purees! There are tons of great, healthy recipes in there to keep your baby happy and exploring new food textures and flavors.
So what should you consider when buying a baby food maker? Below are the top considerations. All of our top baby food makers balance these considerations with cost:
Steaming and Processing in one: The original baby food makers were glorified food processors that changed their name and marketing, and were manufactured with some cute colors to entice new parents. With these old systems you had to cook fruits and vegetables separately in a steamer and then puree them in the processor. This method got the job done, but was a time consuming process. More dirty dishes, more hands-on kitchen work, and more time away from your baby. All the new systems we recommend are all-in-one steamers and processors. Put in the fruits and/or veggies, add some fresh water, and the system will steam it for you with the push of a button. Aren't around when the steamer finishes? No worries, just come back later to puree which by the way is simply another push of the button. Two button presses later and you have a freshly steamed and pureed masterpiece for your little munchkin. Maybe a healthy veggie puree for dinner, maybe a fruity blend for dessert? You're the chef now, no more worrying about which Gerber options are on the shelf, or worrying about harmful additives! Four of the five products on our list include both steaming and food processing in one.
Ease of Use: This is the factor that sets apart the good and bad baby food makers. The fewer steps the better, and the more logical the better. Some systems do this well and others get it wrong. If it takes a rocket scientist to help you figure it out and understand the owner's manual, it's a poorly designed product. All of our recommended systems are highly rated for ease of use.
Reliability: Just like with ordinary food processors and steamer systems, there are reports of smoking motors, melting plastics, quickly dulled blades, beaking clips, and other various defects. Some of the systems have more issues with this, whereas other systems are consistently reliable and carry great warranties that are reliably honored. All of our recommended systems have histories of high reliability and customer satisfaction.
Efficiency: If you're going to spend over $100 on a good baby food maker, you want one that will puree quickly and effectively. You don't want to run it, check whether your food is well blended, and keep trying. Weak and slow motors, dull blades, and poor blade design can all contribute to lower efficiency and more headaches. You want a fast steamer, powerful motor, and sharp blades. You also want a bowl large enough to fit enough food to make several servings. Avoid units with capacities under 3 cups because you'll find yourself spending a bit too much time washing, peeling, steaming, and pureeing for single servings! All of our top recommended systems show high efficiency with both the steaming and processing stages.
Safety: The original baby food makers used plastic steaming baskets and bowls containing BPA and phthalates, which many scientists and doctors believe leached into foods. These chemicals have been linked with a variety of health and developmental issues. Newer systems from major baby food makers have removed these harmful chemicals, resulting in safer food for your little baby.
Storage and portability: So what do you do with all that great food you're steaming and pureeing? Well, parents commonly put the food into small freezer-safe containers (like these awesome ones by OXO) and take them out as needed. But there's also another way to do this that is gaining in popularity. You know those fun squeezable pouches of baby food? Like the popular ones by Happy Tot Organic, or Plum Organics? What if you could make those at home!? Well, the new Infantino Squeeze Station makes that possible. Simply steam and puree your food in one of our favorite food makers below, and then use the squeeze station to pour the puree into those awesome squeezable pouches. Not only is this an awesome and portable option, but your toddler can take charge of the feeding and you're not stuck with a dirty spoon or dirty container in the end! Interested in this option, get more info by clicking the picture to the right.
Here are the Best Baby Food Makers of 2017!
1. BEABA Babycook Pro. The BEABA Babycook line of baby food makers is well known for reliability, ease of use, safety, and efficiency. They are the best baby food makers on the market, and for good reason. Even though it is a bit more expensive than other options, we think it is worth the extra cost. The BEABA looks and works great. It uses a large 4.7-cup capacity so you can fit several servings of food in one batch. You can use it with only 1 hand, so you can hold your baby in one arm while steaming, pureeing, defrosting, or reheating your food. The water reservoir on the side that holds water for steaming is stainless steel rather than plastic, and all surfaces that come in contact with food are BPA, lead, and phthalate free. We found that it is easy to clean, easy to use, and highly reliable. We were impressed with how quiet the motor was when pureeing, and how evenly the steaming seemed to work. To steam, you place your freshly cut fruits or veggies into the basket, and simply press the steam button. When it's finished, about 13-15 minutes later, you simply dump the basket of freshly steamed food into the bottom of the bowl and turn the knob to begin the pureeing process. We thought the button and knob were really intuitive and easy to use. Note that with any baby food maker that includes steaming, if you use anything other than distilled water your water reservoir will develop mineral deposits; as suggested by Beaba, we found that descaling with vinegar every few months was really helpful. If you do have an issue it comes with a 1-year warranty and the customer service is great. We found this unit for about $150 online. Need to cook more than one recipe at a time? Check out the double Beaba Babycook Pro for about $50 more.
2. Cuisinart BFM-1000 Baby Food Maker and Bottle Warmer. Note that this model does not appear to be involved in the recent (Dec 2016) Cuisinart recall. Here is another fantastic baby food maker, for about $50 less than the Beaba Babycook Pro. There are a lot of great features here, all in a sleek system that doesn't take up too much counter space. It does the steaming, chopping, and pureeing, but it also has an added bottle warmer feature on the back. Pop your bottle in for a couple minutes and it's a great temperature for your baby. Nice touch. In our tests we found the motor to be very powerful, the steamer very effective, and overall the unit was quiet and efficient. The blades were sharp and strong, and we thought it was super easy to clean. Unlike the Beaba, the transition from steam to puree is a bit easier given that there is no steaming basket to remove and empty into the bowl. But we do think the Beaba actually does a slightly better job with steaming the food, maybe because of the basket that keeps the food from resting against edges. Just like the Beaba, it is also BPA free on all surfaces that contact food. Cons? Well, the bowl is a bit smaller than the Beaba, coming in at 4 cups capacity. And we're not convinced that the bottle warmer feature is really necessary; maybe defrost and reheating features would be more convenient. In any event, this is an excellent baby food maker, and we highly suggest it. We found it online for about $120.
3. Babymoov Food Steamer and Processor Nutribaby Zen. This unit does everything that the BEABA does for about $50 less expensive, but not quite as easily. With a dozen different parts that require two hands to assemble and use, it is a very involved product. It takes a bit of time to figure out, and it takes even more time since you have to manually dump steamed food into the food processor side. In our tests, we appreciated that it had two steam baskets that allowed us to steam fruits and veggies without mixing flavors. We liked the large capacity steaming area, holding over 6 cups of food, but thought that the blender bowl could be a bit larger. It has a 2.5 cup capacity, which means that if you're steaming 3 cups of food in one layer of the steamer, you will need to mash the food down a bit into the blender to make it fit. We weren't really bothered by that, just wanted to point out that you can't steam a full 6 cups and blend it all at once. We also liked the little digital display that let us see the status. The other baby food makers involve a bit more guess work trying to figure out what is going on at any given time. Like the others, the parts contacting food are BPA free and dishwasher friendly. Overall, we thought this was a nice little unit once you get used to it. We also liked that it doesn't use the typical water reservoir which has been associated with scaling and some mildew/mold growth without proper cleaning. We found the steaming evenly done and the processing quite powerful. While it had a lot of plusses, it's further down our list because it's a bit time consuming to learn, and there are a lot of parts to wash. We much prefer the one-handed operation of the BEABA and Cuisinart. But this unit does have some great things going for it, and we found it online for about $100.
4. Lil' Jumbl Baby Food Maker and Steamer. Here at Mommyhood101, we're always excited about newcomers to the baby product market, and this Lil' Jumbl product is no exception! For 2017, it's unclear whether it's still being sold, but we were able to get our hands on one in early January. Every once in a while a new company makes a splash with a product that beats out most of the competition, but there is a limited customer base to make informed decisions about long-term reliability and quality. This product is the most versatile on our list. It can blend food, steam veggies, warm and reheat, and even sterilize bottles and pacifiers, all in the same bowl. It also has a dual basket design that can steam two foods at once in separate areas. Varied blending modes allow you to make very smooth purees (for new eaters) to chunkier blends for more experienced eaters. We also liked the fact that it was large and powerful enough to support sterilization of bottles and pacifiers; we tried this out with several pacifiers and it seemed to work very well. We found it very intuitive to use, with a decently sized display and a lot of timing and safety features. The parts are dishwasher safe, and use only BPA free plastics. Overall, this is an excellent new addition to the market and we highly recommend it. Only downfall is we don't have any long-term reliability data. However, in our testing we found it to be made with high quality components. We found it online for about $130.
5. Magic Bullet Baby Bullet Baby Care System. This was one of the first blenders specifically targeting new parents, including a baby food cookbook, baby food storage containers (fridge and freezer), and a feeding cup. It also boasts the cute smiley face on the front to make you think there's something really special about this blender. On the one hand, it's nice to have a blender include so many parts that make storing and transporting baby food so easy. On the other hand, you can buy the storage containers and get a blender that's actually quite good for a similar price point. So at first glance this seems like a nice all-inclusive baby food making package. But it's missing something important: the steamer. Several customers have contacted us telling us that they bought this system not realizing that it doesn't steam the food. So it's a glorified food processor with a smiley face on the side. And in our testing, we didn't find it to be a very powerful, quiet, or reliable blender. Looking around online, there are many parents who report various reliability issues including broken seals, cracking plastic, etc. We didn't encounter any of that in our short-term testing, but we do trust the input of the broader community of parents. So here it is at the bottom of our list. If you're looking for a decent food processor/blender at an affordable price that includes a bunch of useful baby food storage and feeding options, then this could be a decent option for you. We found it online for about $60.
Off the list: Baby Brezza One Step Baby Food Maker. Overall, this is a nice small unit that is simple and doesn't take up a lot of counter space. We enjoyed using the system, but are heeding the advice of others on this one and cannot strongly recommend it. This system has some issues with enamel flaking off inside the water reservoir, the bowl is too small for most (about 2.5 cups capacity), the bowl commonly cracks, and parents report motor failures. So while the concept is good, and it's a cute system that seems to get the job done, there are a lot of poor reviews from parents. We found it online for about $75.