There are lots of healthy, baby-friendly foods out there, but these 5 recommended baby food by doctors and nutritionists alike stand out from the pack. From vitamin-rich fruits and veggies to meats and beans loaded with protein, these superfoods are full of essential nutrients, reasonably priced, easy to prepare, and delicious.
In reality, finding the best organic baby food that contain most—if not all—the nutrients that an infant needs is not too tricky. A lot of brands are coming out with healthy, non-GMO products nowadays. You can even serve them to your little one for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. They are also available in various flavors and containers.
If you decide that you want to get food for infants, allow us to give you a hand by offering some advice on what to look for on the market today.
When should you start baby food?
Both the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. Formula-fed infants are ready to start solid foods when they start showing signs they’re ready.
In some cases you may start solids around 4 or 5 months, but it’s best to discuss this with your pediatrician. If your doctor doesn’t have a different recommendation, most babies are ready to start soft or puréed foods by the time they are about 6 months old.
Baby food stages
Baby food is classified in stages, which are universal — so even if you’re buying different brands, the texture and consistency will be at the same level.
- 1. Stage 1 baby food is geared toward babies four to six months old and includes purees and single-grain cereals.
- 2. Stage 2 baby food is similar, though it has a thicker consistency to accommodate more advanced eaters who are eight to ten months old.
- 3. Stage 3 baby food is considered chunkier. It is for babies ten months and up. It contains easy-to-chew pieces of food, which are either small or easily dissolvable.
5 Best Baby Food of 2021:
One of the supplementary foods that parents love giving their babies who are at the second stage of infancy is a Gerber Puree. It comes in a box of 16 2-pack items that your little one will not be able to get enough of.
The available flavors are apple, sweet potato, banana, green bean, carrot, apple and blueberry, butternut squash, and a mix of apple, strawberry, and banana. Such a wide variety of fruits and vegetables helps you to make your baby love healthy foods before they can walk and talk.
Texture-wise, it will suit even a picky eater’s palate. It is not too grainy, so your infant may not get weirded out by it. The product is not too liquidy either for their brain to associate it with breast or formula milk. Thus, they can transition to solid foods easily.
And have we mentioned that Gerber Purees have no artificial sweeteners and flavorings? What it means is that your baby will get accustomed to the real taste of the fruits and veggies mentioned above. When they are old enough to eat on their own, they will most likely not scrunch up their nose once they see apples, bananas, carrots, and greens on the table.
The higher number of fruits than veggies in the variety pack is a nod towards babies’ natural affinity towards sweets. They will always be healthier than candies, so that is acceptable.
Moreover, buying Gerber Purees gives new parents a chance to contact Dotti, the brand’s self-proclaimed Baby Expert. You can ask Dotti regarding your child’s sleep, nutrition, and lactation through text even during the wee hours at night and receive responses based on real specialists’ answers.
- BPA-free container
- Non-GMO fruits and vegetables
- Sweet flavors
- Nutritious ingredients
- Multiple flavors to choose from
Happy Baby has a robust line of organic baby food for first tastes to toddler years. The oatmeal and multi-grain cereals are fortified with iron. There are several traditional fruit and vegetable puree jars and pouches for babies just starting solids.
For infants older than six months, there are a variety of fruit and vegetable blend pouches to choose from, which come in unique flavors such as purple carrots, banana, avocado, and quinoa. At this age, infants might also enjoy the HappyBaby organic Teethers, in flavors including sweet potatoes and bananas, blueberry and purple carrots, and pea and spinach.
Once your baby is a year old, they might enjoy the addition of oats to their fruit and vegetable pouches, like the Pears, Squash, and Oats pouch from HappyBaby. Also, at this age, Yogis (freeze-dried yogurt and fruit snacks), Puffs, Multi-Grain Cookies, Soft-Baked Oat Bars, Creamies (freeze-dried veggie, fruit, and coconut milk), Veggies Straws, and Rice Cakes are fun snacks to try.
The HappyTot line also offers the Super Bellies Immune and Digestive Support Blend, which star prebiotic fiber and beta-glucan. Meals such as the Turkey Bolognese with Lentil Pasta and Vegetable Sauce or Cheesy Lentils and Quinoa with Cauliflower and Parmesan Sauce are perfect for toddlers.
- One type of vegetable gets mixed with two kinds of fruits
- Get 3 g of fiber
- Comes with a recipe
If you don’t know about Holle, you’re missing out! Very popular in Europe, Holle is a Swiss company that conforms to the relatively strict European organic and Demeter farming regulations, making some of the best organic baby formulas and foods on the European market. Parents rave about their products, and for good reason – they are uncompromising in their ingredient sourcing and quality control.
Thanks to companies like OrganicStart that import European baby formulas and foods to the USA, you can get this porridge delivered to your doorstep within a couple days. The Holle oatmeal cereal contains only two ingredients: organic whole grain oats, and vitamin B1 (thiamine).
For parents who are certain their baby is getting sufficient iron from other sources, this is the most basic oatmeal cereal you will find (unless you grind it yourself!). We fed Holle oatmeal cereal to our children from about 5 months onward, and all of them accepted it (mixed with breastmilk) and showed very high tolerance. It’s as simple as you can get, so this isn’t surprising.
- Certified as kosher food by the Orthodox Union
- 12 incredible flavors and four variety packs
- Has a refund policy
These simple, affordable baby food jars are an all-around fan favorite. They come in recyclable glass jars and are available in both natural and organic options. Beech-Nut’s blends come in every stage, from single-ingredient foods for brand-new eaters (like butternut squash and plum), up to multi-food blends with chunkier textures for older babies.
The ingredients in Beech-Nut baby foods are simple and straightforward, with no artificial additives. Plus, these little glass jars are also available at most grocery stores, making them easy to find. And while it’s great for recycling purposes, glass can be dangerous — always supervise your little one around glass.
- Adds protein sources in the mix
- Contains potassium, iron, and calcium
- Vegan and non-vegan options
For a variety of reasons, you may have concerns about jarred baby food, but not have time to make your own at home. Enter fresh baby food delivered to your door. Yes, this sounds magical, but it actually exists.
Yumi offers a variety of foods (from sweet potatoes to chia seed pudding to mixed green veggies) in every stage for your baby’s expanding palate and eating skills. You can sign up for a variety of plans depending on how many days per week and how many meals per day you prefer.
This is a super fresh, organic option that gives you all the benefits of homemade baby food without the time investment. Although it may be more cost effective to combine it with some DIY homemade food or jarred baby food.
- All-natural ingredients
- Great puree texture
- Has potassium, calcium, and iron
Babies and young children have a more delicate digestive system than adults and are more at risk for dehydration if they get diarrhea from something they’ve eaten. Their immune systems are developing, which makes them more vulnerable to toxic chemicals. So paying attention to how you prepare, handle, and store their food is especially important. To keep baby food free of harmful bacteria and other foodborne pathogens that can cause illness. Here are some guidelines:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before handling baby food (or preparing formula or bottles of breast milk). Not only will you be keeping your baby safe, but regular hand-washing also helps to protect you from getting sick.
- Pay close attention to expiration dates on baby food. Listen for the pop of vacuum seals of foods in jars. Don’t feed your baby anything that has expired, and throw out jars with chipped glass or rusty lids, or those that are leaking or missing a label.
- Transport food and filled bottles in an insulated cooler with frozen packs when you’re traveling.
- If you freeze homemade baby food, put the mixture into an ice-cube tray covered with heavy-duty plastic wrap in the freezer.
- Use dishwashing detergent, hot water, and a clean dishcloth to wash and rinse all utensils that come in contact with baby food, including the can opener. Just wiping them with a paper towel isn’t enough.
What is the best store-bought baby food?
Keep these things in mind when shopping for packaged baby food:
- Make sure it’s age-appropriate. “When choosing from store-bought foods, it is important to buy the appropriate portion size and consistency for the child’s age,” says Gary Kramer, M.D., a pediatrician in Coral Gables, Florida. You can find that information by reading labels closely.
- Consider ingredients. “Many people are looking at organic options and food with minimal preservatives,” says Dr. Kramer.
- Look out for choking hazards. The AAP suggests avoiding the following foods: hot dogs, nuts and seeds, chunks of meat or cheese, whole grapes, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter, raw vegetables, fruit chunks and sticky candy.
- Skip honey and cow’s milk. Avoid any packaged foods that contain honey (it can have a bacteria that is harmless to adults but can cause botulism, a serious illness, in babies) and cow’s milk until your baby is at least 1 year old.
When shopping for commercial baby food, compare the ingredients and nutritional value of different brands. Always check the “use by” dates on the label or lid. If the date has passed, don’t buy or use the food. Baby-food jars have a depressed area, or “button,” in the center of the lid. Reject any jar that has a popped out button; that indicates that the product has been opened or the seal is broken.