When it’s time to introduce your baby to solid foods, you want to give them an optimal, healthy start. The problem is: all baby foods claim to be just that and there are so many brands — how do you know what really is the good stuff? Luckily, you don’t have to do all the research: StudyFinds consulted several experts to find out the best baby foods to give to your bundle of joy.
Before we dive into our findings, though, a word on the right time to start solid foods. In a nationwide study, researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that U.S. parents introduce solid foods too early. While current guidelines suggest starting complementary foods at about six months, many parents begin the process with children as young as four months. This can lead to babies missing out on important nutrients that come from breast milk and infant formula.
But even if babies are introduced to solids at the right time, food can put their health at risk: The majority (60%) of foods Americans purchase contain any number of artificial additives, such as preservatives, sweeteners, and coloring or flavoring agents, according to recent research. Most alarming: there has been a 22 percent increase in purchases of baby foods that contain additives, or that researchers consider ultra-processed. “These findings give us reason for concern, given the growing evidence linking high consumption of processed foods with adverse health outcomes,” said Elizabeth K. Dunford, Ph.D., from the George Institute for Global Health, the University of New South Wales, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
To avoid questionable ingredients, stick to high-quality products. StudyFinds compared experts’ recommendations from ten websites to compile a top five list of the best baby foods. Do you have any additional recommendations? Please let us know in the comments.
The List: Best Baby Foods, According to Experts
Beech-Nut products top numerous “best baby food” lists. The brand’s Stage One food is the best overall baby food according to Healthline, while Gimme the Good Stuff is partial to Beech-Nut Organics. But whether Natural or Organic, quality is guaranteed, writes Parents. “This widely available brand offers both organic and natural options, all of which undergo rigorous tests to ensure they’re free from pesticides and heavy metals. From cereals and snacks to purees, all the Beech-Nut offerings are free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. […] They’re the world’s first LEED-certified baby food production company, with recyclable glass jars that stand out from the more popular pouches that line so many shelves today.”
But Beech-Nut’s baby food is not only high in quality, it’s also (somewhat) low in price. “This affordable baby food is an all-around fan favorite,” states Healthline. “Blends are available in every stage, from single-ingredient foods for brand-new eaters (like butternut squash and plum) to multi-food blends with chunkier textures for older babies. The ingredients in Beech-Nut baby foods are simple, with no artificial additives. Plus, these little glass jars are available at most grocery stores, so they’re easy to find. […] Beech-Nut Naturals are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) but not certified organic (unless you shop their organics line). They contain no added sugar.”
Gimme the Good Stuff‘s endorsement of the brand is line-specific: “Beech-Nut Organics jarred baby food is Good Stuff. They use whole fruits and veggies (versus purees or concentrates) and use minimal temperatures and indirect heat in their processing and cooking. Ingredients are very straightforward; many of their purees have just fruits and/or veggies. Some have lemon juice concentrate added as a preservative.” Their expert cautions that “this Organic line is a small portion of Beech-Nut’s offerings.”
Across the websites we reviewed, there were eleven recommendations for Happy Baby products (as some experts recommend multiple products by the brand). Milk Drunk is Happy Baby Organics’ biggest fan, claiming: “This well-known baby-food brand deserves all the accolades it receives because it’s loaded with good-for-your-baby ingredients that are clean, organic, loaded with fruits and veggies, non-GMO and blended finely into a puree that’s safe for babies 4 months and older (note: some are specified for 6+ months).”
If you want to keep baby’s food intake all organic, you can with Happy Baby. “Because of their wide organic food choices, this brand is an excellent selection for anyone interested in organic eating,” notes Verywell Family. “They have baby formula, baby cereals, purees, table foods, dissolvable soft solids, snack foods, meal plates, and even teething biscuits.”
Healthline also mentions the many options by this brand, as well as its high-quality ingredients: “Happy Baby jars offer a wide variety of foods, from kale and mango to spinach and peaches and chia seeds. You can start with their single-ingredient jars (this is important for ruling out allergies, as well as to help baby learn to like spinach even when it’s not disguised by pears). Then, you can move on to their fruit and veggie blends as your little one grows. High quality ingredients, creative flavors, and no artificial ingredients all make Happy Baby a solid (no pun intended) choice. Happy Baby is USDA organic and doesn’t contain added sugars.”
3. Little Spoon
Seven out of ten experts recommend this food-subscription brand. Why use a subscription? New parents are always pressed for time and going to the store, let alone making your own baby food, can be too much. That’s where Little Spoon comes in. The Bump says: “Can’t make it to the grocery store? Get the best baby food delivered to your home courtesy of Little Spoon. The Best of Baby award-winning subscription service offers a rotating menu of seasonal, cold-pressed purees that meet all of baby’s nutritional needs. From single-ingredient recipes to complex blends, they cater to every stage of the weaning process. All the blends are certified organic and non-GMO project verified with no added preservatives, sugars or fillers. Sign us up!”
Our Babyblends menu just keeps getting bigger. Introducing the latest Stage 3 blends:
🍓Strawberry Banana Japanese Sweet Potato
🥄Butternut Squash Golden Beet Cinnamon
🍠 Purple Sweet Potato Blueberry Zucchini
Which are you trying first? ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/H27BHvtwPz
— Little Spoon (@littlespoon) December 20, 2022
“There are lots of parents who love the idea of homemade baby food but either don’t have the time or the desire to make it,” knows Babylist. “Little Spoon solves […] this common problem, delivering fresh baby food right to your door. Just hop onto the brand’s website, take a quiz about your baby then sit back and wait for a personalized meal plan that uses over 80+ organic ingredients. Our favorite part? The awesome, unique flavor blends (can you say carrot mango coconut milk tumeric and kale white bean pear basil quinoa?) that we’d never think up on our own.”
Of course Little Spoon’s fresh food delivery comes at a price, but also with so many options! “Their products are broken down into three categories: BabyBlends, Plates, and Boosters,” explains Verywell Family. “Starting with their BabyBlend purees, you can find 47 blends (stages 1 to 6) for your infant and toddler, including single-ingredient products suitable for 6 months of age and up. There are also more advanced textures and food combinations for those 9 months and older, such as black bean and farro Cubano bowl. Their toddler plates are also impressive—all 29 products are free of preservatives and are served on sectional plates with appropriate portions. Food served on different sections of the plate makes them easily identified by toddlers, promoting self-feeding and reducing the risk of feeling overwhelmed and fussy at mealtimes.”
Want more organic options for your bundle of joy? This brand doesn’t have as many recommendations as others on this list, but still receives high grades from the experts, including the ones at Parents: “With offerings for every stage of your baby’s journey to eating solids, Earth’s Best Organic specializes in pure blends that are free from potentially harmful chemicals, pesticides, genetically engineered ingredients, or growth hormones from animal-derived products.”
The brand’s food is also suitable for babies with dietary restrictions. “As you may have guessed, Earth’s Best Organics does have nearly all organic products (only some frozen meals for toddlers are not organic), as well as options that are non-GMO, gluten-free and non-animal based, along with whole grain or oats.”
According to Gimme the Good Stuff, however, not all products by the brand are created equal. “Although it’s nice that all of their jarred foods are organic, they’re a mixed bag – some of the products are Good Stuff, and many are only Okay Stuff. Earth’s Best Stage 1 jars are Good Stuff, including some super simple meat purees (just organic turkey or chicken plus water). This is a unique option for parents who want to introduce solids that way. A few of Earth’s Best Stage 2 fruit/veggie products are made with just the fruit or veggie plus water (peas and winter squash are Good Stuff). But many Stage 2 consist of fruit purees or fruit puree concentrates.”
Of course Gerber belongs on this list. “One of the most recognizable and widely available baby food brands on the market, Gerber has earned its reputation for high-quality, nutritional baby food,” states Parents and adds: “Flavors tend to be pretty simple and straightforward, with no artificial flavors or colors.”
High quality and nutritional sounds good, but how does Gerber compare to all the organic offerings listed above? The company has been keeping up with food trends but stayed true to its low price tag. “They’ve made changes over the last few years to make their food more health-conscious (e.g., starting an organic line). Yet they have maintained their status as one of the most affordable prepared baby food brands on the market,” says Healthline.
Gerber’s organic line receives a thumbs up from Gimme the Good Stuff — but only the organic line. “Gerber Organic has a line of jarred baby foods. I call these Good Stuff because they’re organic, they use whole produce (versus purees or concentrates), and their recipes are pretty straightforward,” writes their expert. “Some Gerber Organic blends are just the featured fruit or vegetable plus water, and others have lemon juice concentrate and/or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) added. I don’t love that they have some grain flours instead of the actual grains, but these ingredients are minor. It’s important to note that this Organic line is just a small portion of Gerber’s offerings, and I don’t call the non-organic products Good Stuff.”
You might also like:
- Verywell Family
- What to Expect
- The Bump
- Gimme the Good Stuff
- The Kansas City Star
- Milk Drunk
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.