Most of us wouldn’t be too thrilled to be served orange gloop from a jar, and yet for many babies, that’s what makes up “breakfast”, “lunch” and “dinner” for them.
Besides, those little jars can get pretty expensive fast – and you might not be too sure about whether or not they offer a good introduction to real food for your little one.
So, what’s the alternative? A baby food maker! There are various types of these available for you to pick and choose from, but at the end of the day, they all do the same thing: they let you puree food for your baby to eat.
When preparing your own baby food at home, you know exactly what goes into it, and you can serve them something similar to what the rest of the family is eating (if they’re old enough to be having it).
Here’s everything you need to know about baby food makers.
Best Baby Food Makers – a Quick Look at Our Top 10 Recommendations
- BEABA Babycook 4 in 1 Steam Cooker and Blender
- QOOC 4-in-1 Mini Baby Food Maker
- Magic Bullet Baby Bullet Baby Care System
- Cuisinart BFM-1000 Baby Food Maker and Bottle Warmer
- Baby Brezza Small Baby Food Maker Set – Cooker and Blender in One
- Immersion Hand Blender and Food Processor By Sage Spoonfuls
- OXO Tot Mash Maker Baby Food Mill
- Infantino Squeeze Station Baby Food Maker
- NUK Mash and Serve Food Preparation Bowl
- Hamilton Beach 36533 Bebe Baby Food Maker
Note: When clicking on any of the above links, you’ll go to the product listing pages on Amazon, where you can read further information, see current prices and read customer reviews.
What Exactly is a Baby Food Maker?
There are lots of different baby food makers on the market, ranging from blenders that come with all sorts of extras to small hand-held devices that you can easily carry around with you.
They all strive to achieve the same end result, though.
Baby food makers process food so that little ones can easily eat without chewing. Usually, this means grinding or blending the food. With that being said, some of them can also cook the food (by steaming it) before pureeing it – a handy time-saver if you want to make whole batches of food at once.
Do I Really Need a Baby Food Maker?
While you could potentially use your existing blender instead, there’s a good chance that it’s designed to make adult-sized or family-sized portions, and not baby-sized ones.
It won’t necessarily work very well if you only put in a handful of cooked food, and let’s face it, there’s only so much blended carrot you’re going to want.
Some parents do feel, though, that buying a whole new device for what’s likely to be only a few months (until your baby is happily eating finger foods) is excessive – especially if they spend a good amount of time outside the house and resort to using commercial baby food while on day trips or on vacation.
If that sounds like you and you already have a “bullet” style smoothie maker at home, you may find this to be a convenient option for making baby food at home. Alternatively, you might want to opt for a simple hand-held grinder to mush up baby food, as these are relatively inexpensive and easy to carry around with you.
What Are the Benefits to Using a Baby Food Maker?
While you can simply go out and buy jars full of pureed food designed for babies, you might well prefer to make at least some of your baby’s food at home.
There are a number of key advantages to doing so using a baby food maker – both for your baby and for you as well.
Quickly and Easily Puree Food
While you could probably mash your baby’s food with a fork, it’s definitely easiest to prepare blended food using a baby food maker.
Like most parents, you probably have more than enough chores to fill your day – so why not make life easy on yourself whenever you have the chance to?
Baby Can Eat the Same as the Rest of the Family
Rather than feeding your baby some “special” baby food that’s different from what everyone else eats, you can get them joining in with the rest of the family if they’re old enough to be having what you’re eating.
To begin with, you might simply cook a few extra vegetables and blend those. As they start to get used to eating food and grow older, you could dish up pretty much whatever else everyone’s eating, and just blend it all together for your little one.
Using Fresh Ingredients
Think about it for a second here: do you really want to feed your baby some shelf-stable orange gloop all the time?
While it may not be the worst thing in the world, it definitely doesn’t have the same level of nutrients (particularly vitamins) as the food you can prepare yourself at home.
With a baby food maker, you can use fresh ingredients, serve your baby a wide variety of tastes and textures, and offer them the same nutritious stuff that the rest of the family is eating.
Might Be Cheaper than Buying Pre-Made Baby Food
Although a baby food maker isn’t exactly an inexpensive piece of equipment to buy, it’s usually cheaper to make your own food at home for your little one rather than having to buy pre-made jars of baby food on an ongoing basis.
If you have twins, or if you’re planning to have a second or third child, a baby food maker could easily pay for itself over time in the money that you save.
Meet Any Dietary or Ethical Needs
If your baby is allergic to anything, you can easily avoid it when preparing homemade food – rather than having to read a bunch of labels to make sure it’s not included in some commercial baby food you’re thinking about buying.
Cow’s milk, for instance, might well be present even when you wouldn’t expect it.
The same goes for any ethical requirements you have about food: if you want to serve your baby vegan food, or organic food, you can easily do that by using whatever ingredients you want.
The point is, you’re in complete control of what goes in that baby food maker (and into your little one’s tummy afterwards!).
Make sure, of course, that you’re giving your baby a diet that contains all the nutrients they need.
Getting Used to How Real Food Actually Tastes
Homemade food that you’ve prepared with your own baby food maker will taste like the “real” meals that your baby will very soon be having throughout toddlerhood.
Babies who are weaned on commercial food may learn to only enjoy the test and texture of that, and it can be a struggle to get them used to eating regular food instead.
Using a baby food maker, your little one will get used to a variety of fresh flavours that will hopefully encourage them to keep up healthy habits, such as eating fruits and veggies as they enter the toddler years.
What Should I Look for When Choosing a Baby Food Maker?
There are so many different baby food makers out there, that you might feel a bit overwhelmed by all the options and all the claims made by different brands about why theirs is the best.
Our advice? Glad you asked! Here’s what we believe you should look for in baby food makers.
Free from BPA and Phthalates
Most manufacturers are now on board with avoiding BPA and phthalates in their products, both of which could potentially allow nasty chemicals to leach into the food you’re preparing.
With that being said, definitely do double check that the baby food maker you’re planning to buy is free of these. You can’t be too careful!
Comes with Compatible Storage Containers
Many baby food makers are entire systems that come with storage containers for you to pop your lovingly prepared food straight into.
While these aren’t necessarily essential, you might find them really handy to have – and if they fit neatly with the food preparation system, this can make it a lot easier to pour out your purees without having them end up all over your countertops!
Fits Where You Want It Placed
That huge baby food maker might look impressive and all, but if it doesn’t actually fit anywhere in your kitchen, you’re going to need to reconsider!
Food makers vary a lot in size, and there’s suitable options out there for everyone depending on how much space they’re able to allocate to it, so look for something that’s going to work for you.
Whether that means a compact device that tucks neatly next to your toaster, or a handheld one that you can pop into a bag to take out and about with you, there’s suitable options out there for just about everyone’s needs.
Does it Steam Food or Just Blend It?
Some baby food makers are designed to only blend food, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re going to be preparing food for older children or for the whole family and just blending a portion or two for your baby, this might be just what you need.
If you want to bulk-prepare food just for your baby, though, you’ll need to get a device that can steam the food. Having something that can efficiently work with those veggies, potatoes, meat, or fish you throw inside will save you a lot of time, effort, and clear-up.
Can You Put the Components in the Dishwasher?
If you pick a baby food maker that’s difficult to clean, you’re likely to find yourself avoiding using it pretty soon.
To avoid wasting your money that way, opt for something that can easily be taken apart and wiped clean, with as many components as possible that can simply be popped into the dishwasher and save you time.
Blends Food Efficiently
It’s probably not going to be a lot of help to have a baby food maker that blends some of the food inside smoothly, and leaves other parts of it in huge pieces that you have to take care of yourself afterwards.
Remember, you’re getting this piece of equipment to save you as much time as possible and do the manual work for you, not with you!
This is something that you can’t really find out for sure just from looking at the packaging or reading the manufacturer’s description, so take a look at online reviews and see what they have to say about this specific point, or talk to other parents to find out their views on whether the processor you’re considering buying actually does what it’s supposed to do.
Multiple Processing Options for Different Stages of Weaning
While super-smooth purees are great when you’re giving your six-month-old their first taste of real food, you’ll want to progress onto more “chunky” textures fairly rapidly.
For this very purpose, many baby food makers will come with different settings or different blades to use for different levels of pureeing.
Ideally, you want one that offers at least three different grades of processing that allow you to work your way up from “smooth” to “chunky”.
What Different Types of Baby Food Makers Are There?
There are dozens of baby food makers out there for you to choose from, but they tend to fall into one of these categories.
All-in-One Steamers and Blenders
These have a reasonably large single chamber where you place chopped up food to be steamed and cooked, before it’s blended.
You may have to take some sort of action before the blending process can begin, such as flipping the jug over, so don’t rely on this option being a “set it and forget it” type of thing.
Some of these offer different levels of blending so you can make very smooth purees when your baby is just starting to wean, and progress on to coarser textures as they get older.
A few models offer several extra functions (like defrosting and warming food – or even sterilizing bottles). These tend to be quite pricey because of the extra features, but if you want to invest in one gadget that does everything, you might well find that they’re worth it.
The main drawback to all-in-one food makers is that they’re bulky – you’re probably not going to want to take one on vacation with you! Also, if you’ve got a small kitchen without much space to work with, they might not be the perfect solution for you.
These simpler blenders can chop and blend food, but they don’t cook it first.
If you’re on a tight budget or don’t have a lot of countertop space to allocate to them, these tend to be cheaper and smaller than all-in-one options.
If you’re going to be pre-cooking food anyway, you may find that one of these is a great option for you. Simply add some extra veggies to the pan when you’re cooking your own dinner so you can pop those into the baby food maker, or dish up a baby-sized portion of everything and blend it to the required consistency.
For times when you want to prepare lots of baby food at once, though, you may find that a mini food-processor doesn’t save you a whole lot of time. Why? You’ll need to cook everything in advance before adding it.
Depending on what blades and modes the baby food processor you’re considering (or already have) comes with, though, it might at least help you with chopping the veggies.
Hand-Held Mashers and Grinders
Do you want to prepare baby food on the go? Or perhaps you only need to make baby food once in a while? Perhaps you’re a grandparent and only take care of your grandchild once or twice a week?
If that’s the case, a hand-held food maker might be the perfect solution for you.
Handheld devices work in various ways, normally involving mashing or grinding (though you can also get handheld versions of blenders).
They don’t require electricity, and they’re small and portable, making them a great option for preparing meals while on the road.
Obviously, if you want to produce baby food in bulk, a handheld option is unlikely to be the best solution for you. All that mashing and grinding can be hard work, and you’ll have to repeatedly clean and refill the food maker because it probably won’t hold more than one or two portions at a time.
If you do choose one of these, keep safety in mind when you use and store it. If it has sharp blades or anything that a baby or child could get their finger stuck in, you need to keep it well out of reach when it’s not in use. Be careful with your own fingers, too!
Best Baby Food Makers – A More Detailed Look At Our Top 10 Recommendations
Ready to put together some of the healthiest, tastiest and most nutritious homemade baby food for your little munchkin? Let’s do this!
Here’s a list of what we believe to be some of the best baby food makers available today.
There’s something in there for everybody, depending on different individual needs, so whatever it is you want to achieve – we’ve got you covered with a recommendation!
BEABA Babycook 4 in 1 Steam Cooker and Blender
This compact baby food maker will make an attractive addition to just about any kitchen, with its grey and white styling.
It’s versatile, too – which means you can cook pretty much anything in there, and blend it to just about any texture you want. It works particularly well with meat, which other baby food makers might struggle to handle.
Note that it’s not really a food processor, in the sense that it’s not designed to chop raw veggies. So, you’ll need to pre-chop them before steaming.
It’s straightforward to use, and seems to be designed with stressed out parents in mind – you can operate it one-handed if you’re holding your little one while trying to get their dinner cooked!
The 4.5 cup capacity means it can handle up to 18 servings of baby food at a time – great if you want to batch-cook and then freeze portions for later use.
Of course, you’re not limited to using it just for your baby – you could make soup or apple sauce in there for the rest of the family, too.
The company that makes it, BÉABA, is well-established and generally well regarded by parents – which is always a plus in our book.
- Can be used to blend both small and large quantities.
- Bowl and accessories are dishwasher safe.
- Can be used to reheat food – or even defrost it.
- Comes with a recipe book (but you can use any recipe you like).
- Beeps when finished, and turns itself off.
- Water reservoir might be a bit complicated to clean and fill.
- Might not be the most durable option if you’re using it on a daily – or near daily – basis.
QOOC 4-in-1 Mini Baby Food Maker
This baby food maker has a small footprint and can be easily stored away when not in use. That way, if you’re already limited on counter-top space as it is, you won’t have to give away even more.
It can cook, puree, reheat and even defrost – so it’s a great all-rounder. It’s not designed for bulk cooking, though, so only makes up to three portions or so at a time.
Like the BEABA Babycook 4 in 1, this baby food maker is designed for one-handed operation. This is potentially a life-saver for many of us, especially if you’re on your own with your baby and have to juggle everything at once.
You’ll need to keep an eye on it, though, because although it has a built-in timer, it doesn’t automatically switch off – or alert you – once it’s finished.
It also looks more like a dedicated baby product than the BEABA Babycook, with white, light gray, and light blue styling.
As well as coming with a recipe booklet, this baby food maker also gives you access to regularly updated online recipes.
- Designed to be near-silent when in operation.
- Good budget option with multiple different functions.
- Small in size, so is easy to fit in even the tiniest of kitchens and can be stored away when not in use.
- Can reheat and defrost food, if required.
- The water reservoir might be a bit tricky to fill and clean, and may even rust at times.
- There’s no “beep” alarm sound or automatic shut-off after it’s done cooking.
Magic Bullet Baby Bullet Baby Care System
With its super-cute design (seriously now, who can resist that smiley face?), the Baby Bullet is a surprisingly good value option that comes with a whole bunch of extras – including a big and small bowl for the food maker itself, plus a bunch of storage cups that sit nearly in their own tray.
The storage cups are cleverly designed with a “date dial” feature that you simply twist round to show the date you prepared the food, which is very handy for busy parents.
Besides that, the storage cups also have a “tip proof” tray so they can’t fall over in your fridge and cause a huge mess.
There’s also an “easy-pop” tray where you can make small portions of food to freeze – you could even use these to make mini popsicles for your little one!
It comes with a recipe book, a user manual and a “pocket nutritionist” book offering feeding advice.
- Fun, kid-friendly design.
- Comes with a full range of extras for easy food preparation.
- Big name brand – Magic Bullet – with lots of information available about their reputation.
- Innovative storage cups are easy to date and store safely.
- Two different sized bowls so you can make large or small batches easily.
- The motor may overheat if used continuously, so it’s best to blend the food in brief pulses. To stay on the safe side, don’t blend for a long stretch in one go.
- Not specifically designed to blend meat, although some parents successfully use it for this.
Cuisinart BFM-1000 Baby Food Maker and Bottle Warmer
While it’s not the cheapest option out there, this Cuisinart food maker lets you warm bottles too – handy if you want an all-in-one solution that saves you cluttering up your kitchen with multiple products.
It’s also pretty compact for everything it does, and has neutral white and gray styling that many of you will love.
It steams and blends, just like most other baby food makers, so it’s quick and straightforward to use.
Most sizes and types of baby bottles (including glass bottles) should fit and warm correctly, but it won’t hurt to make sure about this compatibility (or lack thereof) first, just for the sake of peace of mind.
You won’t get any extras for your money with this baby food maker, though, so if you’re looking for something that comes with storage cups or trays, this probably isn’t the best option for you.
It also needs to be left to cool down after each use, so might not be ideal if you want to do large batches in one session. You can blend up to four cups of food at a time, though, so you can still prepare quite a good amount!
- Can fit a wide range of different types of baby bottles for warming as well.
- Small and compact (about the size of a coffee maker).
- Can steam meat and fish, as well as veggies.
- Water reservoir can be a bit tricky to open and clean.
- The bowl tends to stain easily after a few uses.
- Can be tricky to get the blades to blend correctly at times.
Baby Brezza Small Baby Food Maker Set
If you find food pouches handy for your little one – and many parents do – then this might be the perfect baby food maker for you.
You can make up to three cups worth of food at a time, which is easily enough to fill the three pouches provided.
There are three funnels, too, just in case you’re wondering how the heck you’ll get the food through the neck of the pouches!
Unlike other baby food makers which require you to hold down a button to blend, you can simply pop the food in and set this going. It’ll steam the food, and then automatically start blending if that’s the option you selected.
There’s a small LCD screen that shows you the mode you’ve chosen and the time remaining till the job’s done, and several buttons where you can easily choose the option you want.
It’s also pretty easy to clean – the steam tank can be completely opened, unlike the case with the Cuisinart BFM-1000.
- Has suction cup feet for stabilization – parents love these.
- Simple to use – just press a button and walk away.
- Blade is effective, yet not too sharp to wash easily.
- You have the option to purchase one with a glass bowl rather than plastic bowl.
- Doesn’t take up much space.
- The lid can be tricky to get off at first, but should become an easy feat once you get used to it.
- The food maker can get pretty hot during use at times.
- Enamel might flake off after a certain period of use.
Sage Spoonfuls Immersion Hand Blender and Food Processor
This straightforward hand-held blender can be used with the supplied immersion blender bowl or separately, making it easy to blend just the exact amount you want.
It’s a budget-friendly option if you just want to blend purees, and don’t think you’ll need something to steam-cook food as well anytime soon.
The blender is very effective in blending without lumps, and it’s really quiet, too.
There are two different speeds you can choose to work with depending on what it is you’re preparing, and you can use the faster one to chop foods such as nuts.
- Good option if you want to make lots of batches of baby food in one session.
- Easily portable and doesn’t take up much space.
- Hand blender can be used with or without the immersion blender bowl.
- All parts except the handle (which plugs in) can go in the dishwasher.
- Simple, budget friendly option that blends well and quickly – great if you don’t really need anything more advanced than that.
- It’s only a blender – it doesn’t steam or heat as well.
- The lid on the immersion blender can sometimes be a bit tricky to fit securely.
OXO Tot Mash Maker Baby Food Mill
This simple, straightforward blender doesn’t even need to be plugged in – you just pop the food in and turn the handle.
That makes it a great option if you’re on the go a lot and need to prepare food for your baby without your go-to station, or if you’re going to be somewhere without a convenient electricity supply – such as camping or out at the park.
Since it’s a simple, manually operated food mill, it comes at a budget-friendly price. If you just want to puree foods occasionally, this might be an excellent choice for you to consider.
It’s pretty easy and straightforward to clean, but do be aware that if you opt for this, you’ll need to take it apart and clean it thoroughly after every use.
So, it’s probably not ideal if you want to make large quantities of baby food in one session, as there’ll be a whole lot of cleaning involved.
If you just want to make small quantities of baby food in one session, though, then this could be an excellent option for you.
Also, if you’d like your little one to eat the same foods as you, this is a great option: just cook your meal and pop a portion through the food mill for your little one to have – and voila! Job done.
- Works on pretty much anything that’s cooked: veggies, meats, eggs, and more.
- Easy to carry around with you.
- Allows you to give your baby a portion of whatever you’re eating.
- Doesn’t require electricity – it’s manually operated.
- Foods will need to be well cooked to begin with – otherwise, it won’t mill them well.
- Can’t be used to make large portions in one go.
Infantino Squeeze Station Baby Food Maker
This baby food maker is a bit different from others, in the sense that it won’t cook or blend your baby’s food – it just fills pouches.
If you’re happy to use a different product for blending, though, this could be a great option for filling pouches with a minimum of mess. This product, along with a separate product for blending, could be a very powerful combination at your disposal.
You can fill three pouches at a time (each holds up to 4 oz of puree – about half a cup).
The pouches supplied are disposable, not reusable, though some parents report reusing them a few times just fine. You can, however, buy separate reusable squeeze pouches that are compatible.
If you use several pouches a day with your little one, this could be a great time-saver. For parents who don’t tend to use pouches much, though, it’s probably a bit overkill for your needs.
Also, remember that filling pouches is inevitably a bit of a messy process – but parents who use this squeeze station always report how easy it is to clean, and how very little mess it causes (if any mess at all).
- Simple, budget-friendly way to fill pouches if you already have a blender.
- The supplied pouches are recyclable (though not reusable).
- It’s easy to pop the pouches into place and remove them afterward.
- The fill line on the pouches lets you know when to stop, which takes the guesswork out of the equation for you.
- Food needs to be pre-blended to a smooth consistency, or it won’t pass into the pouch.
- This only fills pouches, so you’ll need to cook and puree food separately.
NUK Mash and Serve Food Preparation Bowl
If you’re after a very budget-friendly and straightforward option, then this “mash and serve” bowl could be the answer.
You just pop fruit or cooked veggies into the bowl and mash! The masher is like a small version of the one you’d use to create mashed potatoes, and some parents even use it for cooked meat.
You can put pretty much anything in here (as long as it’s cooked) and have a meal ready for your little one in less than a minute.
The bowl is nicely designed, with a slip-resistant bottom plus grooves inside that help with the mashing.
You can simply give the bowl straight to your child to eat from, saving on additional washing up that’s not really necessary.
It’s also microwave and dishwasher safe – great for easy warming and easy cleaning. Last but certainly not least, it’s also small enough to easily pop in your bag and carry around with you when out and about.
- Bowl suctions to tables or high chairs so it doesn’t slip.
- Very budget-friendly option.
- Creates baby food almost instantly (assuming you already have cooked food ready).
- Easy to carry around and use on the go.
- Can only prepare one portion at a time.
- Food needs to be well cooked in order to mash well.
Hamilton Beach 36533 Bebe Baby Food Maker
This straightforward baby food maker can chop and slice food, and also does a good job at steaming it and blending it into purees.
It comes with 10 small storage containers, too. This comes handy if you don’t want to buy those separately, and there are two stackable caddies to keep these in. You can even freeze them if you’d like to.
It’s very easy and straightforward to use, and it has a five cup bowl, so it’s a good option if you want to make fairly large batches of baby food all at once.
If you want to steam and blend, there’s a two-step process to this: you’ll need to transfer the steamed food from a basket into the bowl. So, be aware that this baby food maker may require a bit more hands-on time than some others.
- Good size – can make multiple portions of baby food at once.
- Includes containers for easy storage and freezing of prepared food.
- Comes with a baby feeding guide and recipes.
- Purees food very smoothly.
- The water compartment isn’t easily accessible to clean. It should have been made less narrow.
- The blade may cut into the edge of the plastic bowl at times, which might risk introducing small pieces of plastic into your baby’s food. This isn’t reported too often, though.
How Many Baby Food Makers Should I Get?
If you’re looking to avoid commercially prepared baby food as much as possible, then you’ll almost certainly want two baby food makers at minimum.
You’ll need to have an all-in-one option for use at home, one that makes cooking and preparing batches of food quick and easy, and a hand-held option for when you’re on the go.
If you’re at home for most meals, though, or if you’re happy to use commercial baby food while traveling, then a single food maker is probably enough for you.
As for when you’ll need to buy replacements, don’t worry too much about this. Since you’ll likely only use your baby food maker for a few months of your child’s life, you shouldn’t find that you need to discard it and buy a new one (unless you manage to drop it or damage it in some way that’s beyond repair, of course).
Wrapping it Up
Whatever type of baby food maker you opt for, you’re likely to find it a great investment in helping you prepare delicious, nutritious food for your little one – one you’re absolutely certain about each and every single ingredient that goes into making it.
It’s worth looking around to choose something that you know will be a good option for both your needs and those of your little one.
For instance, if you have plenty of kitchen space but not much time to spend on any of this yourself, an all-in-one steamer and blender that comes with storage containers could be perfect for letting you quickly and easily create whole batches of baby food to freeze for later use.
On the other hand, if you’re on a tight budget or if you won’t be using the baby food maker very often, a simple handheld solution could be perfect for you. Using this, you can grind up a portion of pretty much anything, anywhere.
Word to the wise: whatever baby food maker you opt for in the end, make sure you’re getting something that’s easy to clean, so you don’t grow to dread the thought of using it and manage to get the most out of it!
Product photos: © Amazon.com
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