Beginning your baby’s weaning journey can be a messy, exhausting business. From food spills on the floor to endless laundry to figuring out exactly how to tick off “100 foods before 1,” there’s a lot to navigate. And that’s before you begin considering how exactly you’ll feed them. While pouches are a great option, there’s something nice about knowing exactly what goes in your baby’s meals. So ,you may be considering making your baby food from scratch and buying a baby-food maker.
However, there’s a lot of choice. Some baby-food makers steam ingredients and blend them in one appliance, so you don’t have to go to the effort of steaming and blending separately. (Studies suggest that steaming food preserves certain nutrients better than other cooking methods, so it’s a great choice for baby food.) And then you have blenders and mills that don’t cook food but purée it. These appliances may offer you more control over texture than baby-food makers that steam and blend in one step. Plus, blenders and mills are useful for making other foods as your baby grows out or purées such as smoothies or applesauce.
I spoke to ten experts — including a baby-feeding therapist, a nanny, and a pediatric nurse — to get their opinions on feeding babies and the best baby-food makers. Then I got to testing, to make sure our best-in-class pick was easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to store. Read on for the best all-in-one baby-food makers, the best baby-food blender system, and the best baby-food mill. And if you’re interested in other baby-weaning accessories, we’ve also written about the best high chairs, baby wipes, and baby-friendly cleaning products (for afterward).
What we’re looking for
Baby-food makers tend to have three main functions: cooking, blending, and milling. All-in-one baby-food makers both cook and blend food. This is the most comprehensive option, as the machine does most of the work. However, they’re often pricey and some have fairly small capacities. Baby-food blenders blend food but don’t cook. Effectively, they’re like regular blenders but they generally come with storage containers to keep the food you’ve made fresh. It gives you the option to blend up a little of whatever you’ve made yourself for dinner for your baby (minus the salt and heavy spices), which some parents find easier. The same goes for food mills — but these are manual, making them cost-effective and portable for use on the go.
While your baby is only likely to eat around a tablespoon of food a day when you first introduce solids at 6 months, this soon ramps up. They might be eating half a cup of food every day by the time they reach 7 months and a couple of cups a day at 9 to 12 months. While some parents are happy to make baby food daily, others want to be able to batch-cook for at least a couple of days, storing extra food in the fridge or freezer, so choose a baby-food maker with an appropriate capacity. I’ve included baby-food makers with capacities between two and five cups.
I wanted to look at the materials used in the parts of baby-food makers that make contact with food, such as the bowl and blades. Some parents worry about Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby products. BPA is a chemical commonly found in plastics. The FDA says BPA is safe at low levels and allows for the use of BPA in most products that have contact with food. However, the CDC states that its impact on human health at low exposure levels is unknown. So, understandably, you might not want your baby exposed to it. While they aren’t legally obligated to, most manufacturers avoid using BPA in baby-food makers. All the models on this list with plastic bowls are BPA-free. However, if you want to avoid plastic altogether, you can also find some baby-food makers where the only parts that food touches are stainless steel or glass.
Best baby-food maker overall
Functions: Steams, blends Capacity: 5 cups Materials: Glass and stainless steel
The Babycook Neo is one of the nicest-looking baby-food makers I’ve seen, and with two buttons — one to steam and the other to blend — it’s pleasantly straightforward to use. I appreciate the versatility of just being able to steam food when you want to — and Nicole Zarabi, creator of baby-product line Cole & Gwen, agrees. “Even after my daughter was old enough to eat the same food we ate, I found myself using it for simple meal items for the whole family,” she says. When I tested it, it took around 13 minutes to steam broccoli to a consistency soft enough to cut through with a fork. It took a little longer — around 16 minutes — to steam firmer vegetables like carrots and potatoes, or a combination of broccoli and potato to similar consistencies. When blending, it takes 10 to 20 seconds to get a perfectly smooth purée suited to a newly weaned baby and just a few pulses to make a chunky purée. Parenting blogger Amy Johnson notes, “Even though there is only one button to blend, it has the perfect sensitivity that helps me get the texture just right.” It has a five-cup capacity, which is more than enough to batch-cook a few portions. For example, I could fit in half a large head of broccoli, or a large carrot and a medium-large potato.
The Babycook Neo’s blending bowl is made from glass and the steamer basket from stainless steel. Both are dishwasher safe (minus the blender blades). There aren’t any annoying nooks and crannies for food to get stuck in, and the glass bowl won’t stain or taint over time. Its effectiveness and ease of use, paired with the fact that it’s not an eyesore on my kitchen counter, put it at the top of my list.
Best (less expensive) baby-food maker
Functions: Steams, blends Capacity: 3.5 cups Materials: BPA-free plastic
While the Babycook Neo is a great baby-food maker, it’s on the pricey side, so I wanted to include a cheaper all-in-one product. The One Step comes in at roughly half the price. It lets you steam and blend food in the same cycle; you press one button and it does the rest. However, you can also set it to “steam only” and “blend only” for times when you only want one or the other.
This convenience and versatility is why it’s a favorite of pediatric-feeding-therapist Monica Phillips. She also notes that capacity is important when choosing a baby-food maker, and its 3.5-cup capacity is decent — not the largest of all-in-one models but significantly bigger than the smallest. I like that both the bowl and the blade are dishwasher-safe for easier cleanup. It also comes with three reusable pouches for storing and serving food.
Best baby-food blender
Functions: Blends Capacity: 4 cups Materials: BPA-free plastic
“The top feature I look for in a baby-food maker is its ability to blend virtually any fruit or veggie easily and smoothly,” says Jada Rashawn, nanny expert at Sittercity. The Baby Bullet does just that. It’s also a favorite of What to Expect executive editor Melissa Bykofsky, who loves how powerful it is. Both Bykofsky and Rashawn appreciate that it comes with six storage cups and a silicone freezer tray, which are handy for storing batch-cooked meals.
It has a larger 4-cup blending jug and a smaller 1.5-cup short cup. The larger blending container is great for purées, while the smaller container has side handles and doubles as a sippy cup. So, as your baby ages out of purées, you can still use this blender to make smoothies or milkshakes for your child and they can drink it straight out of the blending cup. With a baby-food blender like this one, you’ll need to cook any food before blending it, so you may find yourself steaming vegetables for purées separately. But it’s perfect if you want to blend some of the rest of the family’s dinner for your baby.
Best baby-food mill
Functions: Mills Capacity: N/A Materials: Stainless steel
We previously spoke to registered dietitian Jennifer Anderson of Kids Eat in Color, who recommended using a hand-cranked food mill for baby food. “They’re super-simple, and you can stick one in a diaper bag and take it anywhere,” she notes. She likes that food mills make it simple to feed your baby whatever you’re eating. “For example, if your family is having Taco Tuesdays and you want your baby to join in, you can just grind up whatever filling you have into a nice, textured baby food, and they can join in the meal,” she says. “And it took you maybe 30 seconds to a minute to make.” However, she recommends leaving out the salt and adding it to your own food after portioning out some for your baby.
The food mill she originally recommended has been discontinued, but this OXO food mill is a Strategist favorite. It has fine, medium, and coarse blades, which is ideal for baby food. Start out with the fine blade when your baby is first transitioning to solids and work up to chunkier purées with the medium and coarse blades.
Best baby-food maker with bottle warmer
Functions: Steams, blends Capacity: 2 cups Materials: BPA-free plastic
You get eight functions in one with the Children of Design baby-food maker. It can steam ingredients, blend, juice, chop, reheat, sterilize, defrost, and even warm milk in an integrated bottle warmer. The bottle warmer is useful for those months of transition where you’re making solid food for your baby but they’re also still drinking bottles regularly.
Emily Hosie, founder and CEO of Rebelstork, likes the fact that “you can easily cook two different meals at once.” It has one large steaming basket and a smaller steaming cup, so there’s no need to cook individual foods in two different batches. It has a capacity of around 2 cups, including the smaller steaming cup. This isn’t huge, so it’s not the best choice for batch-cooking purées outside of the early days of solids when babies are only eating a tablespoon or two a day. Cleaning it is easy. Hosie appreciates the self-clean sterilization option — plus, the blade, lid, and stirring cup are all dishwasher-safe for easier cleaning.
• Jennifer Anderson, registered dietitian, founder of Kids Eat in Color
• Melissa Bykofsky, executive editor at What to Expect
• Emily Hosie, founder and CEO of Rebelstork
• Amy Johnson, parenting blogger at Amy Baby
• Nina Pegram, pediatric nurse practitioner and lactation consultant at SimpliFed
• Monica Phillips, pediatric feeding therapist at Little Chompions
• Jada Rashawn, nanny expert at Sittercity
• Shira Sharifi, postpartum doula at A Birth Connection
• Gabby Slome, co-founder of parenting platform Cooper
• Nicole Zarabi, creator of baby product line Cole & Gwen
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