It is no secret that babies bring immense joy, but also an unreal amount of "stuff" into your home. I know with my first baby, practically everywhere I went in my cozy little home I was stepping over some sort of baby gear. The home of a new baby can resemble the infant section of a department store, at best (at worst, well, use your imagination for that one). And, department stores love this! That is why they turn you loose with a scanner so that, if you're the one expecting, you can waddle around scanning anything and everything for your Baby Shower registry.
It is evidenced by the number of gadgets in both the stores and in homes with infants that for every parent out there saying, “I wish I had product X, Y, or Z to make my life easier,” (sometimes at 2 AM when the baby is awake yet again) then you’d better believe there has been a company that has stepped up and made it. Baby gear is a profitable market because of the constant balance between time-management and in the moment problem solving parenting young humans.
Baby food makers are their own special class of coveted equipment for parents who prefer to make their own baby food, rather than rely on the pre-made foods available in most grocery stores. You may have heard of some of these machines from your own experience or from registering for your baby shower. The Baby Bullet, for example, is the adorable companion to the very popular As Seen on TV Magic Bullet, and comes equipped with a steamer, blender, and food storage containers. Nuk, Infantino, and Nuby are popular baby gear brands that have their own versions of the steamer/blender or masher combo. Other highly reviewed brands include QOOC and Sage.
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What are Baby food makers?
You may wonder what exactly these magical machines are and how they are different from kitchen appliances you might already own. With an entire list of gear that is necessary, such as a crib and car seat, why would any parent feel the need to add an expensive, unitasking machine to the already lengthy list? Remember the balance between time-management and in the moment problem solving I mentioned before? Yeah, that's why.
While basic kitchen appliances can certainly get the task of steaming and pureeing accomplished perfectly well, baby food makers are designed to make the process easy and convenient. There are specific instructions on cooking a particular food, and reducing the number of dishes that are dirtied in the process are worth the price tag to many parents who commit to making their baby's food.
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There are numerous styles of baby food makers on the market, but generally, they all boil down (pun intended) to the same general functions. Water and heat cook the food and then some sort of sharp and fast spinning blade turns the food into puree. The primary differences lie in the configuration of the water, heat, and blending zones, and added bells and whistles. Just how each model accomplishes this primary goal, and how well, vary almost as much as the variety of models to choose from.
@thebabybullet / Instagram
Why Some Parents Love Them
Many models available have the steamer and blender in the same compartment or bowl, which reduces the number of dishes involved in making your baby’s food. Other advantages of having one of these machines are reduced counter and cabinet space occupied by large and bulky machines and taking the guesswork out of how long to cook the food. Most models come with a chart that explains how much water to add depending on what you are trying to cook which is very convenient for tired parents.
What should you choose?
Product reviews are a great way to do your research on a particular product before buying. On sites like Amazon.com, you can feel confident knowing that the reviews you are reading were written by people who actually purchased the item because it will say, "Verified Purchase" near the title of the review. It is also helpful to read product reviews on Amazon because they are categorized by rating. You can read all of the best reviews, all of the worst, and everything in between for an honest, and sometimes quite the detailed account of a customer's experience with a product.
Babymoov Duo Meal Station 5 in 1 food processor reviews
Photo credit: amazon.com
Named 5 in 1 food processor but offers 6 functions in one machine:
Amazon.com review average: 3.6 out of 5 stars
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Makes a lot of food at one time
- DIshwasher safe parts
- Reasonably priced
- Largest food capacity on the market (11 cups)
- Saves time
- Comes with a handy remote
Okay so I LIVE by this! I make all my baby food and this makes it all so simple!!! So happy I found this! It even comes with a little chart on how long to steam various fruits and veggies. Dishwasher safe too!!! Totally happy with this product!!! If you’re debating on if you should get this or not, I’m telling you it’s totally worth it!!! I brag on this gem so much!!! I have twins and this made it so easy to make all their purées at home!!! And you can unthaw their frozen purees & warm up their milk too.
- Breaks easily
- Does not puree foods as advertised
- Difficult to return
- Lack of customer support
Disappointed with the blender, it's not powerful enough to create smooth purees. I steamed veggies according the the instructions, and added them to the blender... the instructions also indicated that you should not hold down the pulse for more than 5 seconds several times in a row or the motor will overheat, and that's not enough to puree just about anything to a smooth consistency. I kept trying, but it really doesn't pack enough power. A few other notes: the way it's built, you can't use the steamer as a stand alone piece because its power source is through the blender; while the parts are dishwasher safe, there are a LOT of parts, so kind of a nuisance to disassemble; and I can see storage would become a problem. I feel like I convinced myself I needed this to make baby food, when in all honesty, roasting and steaming with my everyday cookware and blending in a REAL blender is all I needed to do. Silly first-time mommy... ;) It's going back.
Cuisinart BFM-1000 Baby Food Maker and Bottle Warmer reviews
Amazon.com review average: 3.9 out of 5 stars
- Comes with a bottle warmer that fits any size bottle
- Space saving
- Money saving
- Steams in and purees in the same compartment so no need for a steamer basket
- Has a handy chart that explains appropriate water to fruit and/or vegetables being cooked
- Difficult to clean
- Burns the food
- Made of plastic parts that seem cheap and are not very durable for the price of the machine
- Motor runs out after a couple of months
- Blades need repositioning after steaming
- Have to hold knob to chop continuously and cannot walk away to do something else
- Clear plastic steamer/blender bowl permanently stains after cooking certain foods
Amazon.com review average: 3.8 out of 5 stars
- Purees stage 1 and stage 2 better than a regular blender or food processor
- Reduces the number of dishes used while preparing
- Easy to use, don’t have to measure or set a time
- Space saving
- wo cooking pitches makes it convenient to cook on both sides at the same time, doubling the batch and/or varieties
- Quiet when operating
- No staining
- BPA free
- One reviewer called it the “Holy Grail of cooking healthy baby food and snacks for the whole family”
- Cheaply made plastic parts melt over time
- Stops working within 6 months
- Difficult to clean water reservoir
- You still have to chop foods prior to putting them into the machine
- Only one side blends
Safety with baby food makers with steamer
The main things to be cognizant of when it comes to baby food makers, or truly any kitchen appliance, is safety around heat and sanitation. Below are tips and tricks to help you with safety operating one of these machines.
- Give equipment time to cool down in between steaming
- Clean water reservoir with vinegar (no cleaner in food, get rid of burnt residues from purees)
- Be sure to clean steam chambers and water reservoirs well so as not to breed bacteria and mild
- Let dry completely
- Remove food immediately so it does not burn
- Careful with sharp blades
- Follow safety and cleaning instructions that come with the unit
Taking Care of your Baby Food Makers
The most common negative reviews across a variety of brands and models of baby food makers is that they are not designed to last. Typically, customers have feedback that the motors burn out sometime around 6 to 8 months after use. While some people are long done with making purees by this time, the expense of the machines is considered to be too great considering the short life. Which is why it is needed to take care of your machine to give it a longer life span. Some of the common tips in doing so are:
1. Always make sure that the water reservoir is completely emptied to prevent mold growth.
2. Wash the parts of the baby food maker in contact with food such as the jar, blades, cover.
3. Always remove and unplug the machine from the power point if its not in use.
4. Give the machine a wipe down for parts that cannot be washed, ie. the motor body
5. Make sure all parts are completely dried down before you reassemble it for next use.
To Sum it up…
Baby food makers do not do anything that your everyday kitchen appliances such as a blender or steamer cannot also do. They do offer some conveniences that are unique to their design, and it could be a worthwhile endeavor to find the right model for the right price if you’re serious about making your baby’s food. Do your research, and weigh the pros and cons of each model before making a final purchase.
It won't be long till your baby gets out of the puree zone and onto toddler food, where he/ she can protest and choose what goes inside your mouth..Enjoy this stage while it last! :)