It’s pretty nutty that just a minute ago you and baby were all about around-the-clock nursing and bottle feedings. Now? You’re in full-on solids-mode, looking for which healthy foods to offer and when. While you’re perusing the farmer’s market and grocery aisles searching for foods to chop and puree for your little one, know that there’s no need to shun the baby food aisle—there are lots of amazing choices there. Besides, sometimes it’s way easier to buy a jar or a pouch with beets, pumpkin or pomegranate already in there than trying to figure out how to prepare it yourself. So for when your baby food blender is on the fritz (yeah, that’s it!), here are some of our top picks for store-bought baby eats.
Nurturme Organic Quinoa Baby Cereal
For as long as little ones have been cooing, rice cereal has been among babies’ first foods—but there’s no reason your child’s first grain can’t be a healthier one. Enter: Better-for-baby quinoa that’s super-easy for tiny systems to digest.
Health and nutrition: Unlike processed rice cereal, protein-rich quinoa holds onto all of its vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats and phytochemicals. It even helps baby absorb others nutrients too. Plus, Nurturme’s baby cereals are all organic and gluten-, dairy-, soy- and GMO-free, with zero added sugars, preservatives or fake flavorings.
Taste and flavors: You can choose from original, apple, banana, sweet potato and raisin.
Bonus: NurturMe donates 1 percent of proceeds from all of their quinoa products to support children’s health and education in Peru, where their quinoa is sourced.
Buy it: $6, Nurturme.com
Earth’s Best Stage 1 Foods
These jars of organic single-ingredient goodness are perfect starter foods for babies 4 months and older.
Health and nutrition: In addition to being certified organic and GMO-free, there are no added sugars, salts, artificial flavors or preservatives, making this close to being homemade without all the fuss.
Taste and flavor: Earth’s Best has all the big-hitter first foods, like apples, bananas, pears, prunes, carrots and more. And they’re yummy! “We like Earth’s Best most. I’ve even tried the food; it tasted fresh, not stale,” says Bumpie member Betty B.
Bonus: Earth’s Best website highlights the farms that grow the ingredients in your baby’s food, detailing their farming practices. Love!
Buy it: $10 for 12 jars, Target.com
Plum Organics Stage 2 Baby Bowls
Once you’re ready to up baby’s flavor and texture game at 6 months+, Plum’s Baby Bowls are a must-try: These boldly-flavored, fit-in-the-palm-of-your-hand containers are meant to be used at the table with your budding foodie.
Health and nutrition: A child’s taste preferences form young, so introducing your child to some culinary-inspired flavors now means he’s more likely to crave a healthful variety of food later in life. (And, yes, everything from Plum is organic and GMO-free.)
Taste and flavors: Plum has 10 restaurant-worthy flavor combos to choose from, including Pumpkin, banana, papaya and cardamom; mango, carrot and turmeric; and beet, apple, strawberry and chia.
Bonus: These recyclable, BPA-free bowls are resealable, and come with an attached spoon, just in case you forgot your own! There’s a freshness marker on each bowl to help sleep-deprived parents keep track of when exactly they opened the bowl.
Buy it: $15 for 12 bowls, Amazon.com
Stonyfield’s Yobaby Organic Whole Milk Yogurt
Did you know babies can begin eating yogurt as young as 6 months? In fact, it’s a pretty stellar first food—and Stonyfield’s Yobaby offering is a great one to try.
Health and nutrition: Yobaby’s full-fat organic yogurt is packed with bone-building Vitamin D and calcium. Plus, this creamy goodness contains added probiotics to help support baby’s digestive health, and it’s all free of artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs too.
Taste and flavors: Yobaby comes in five flavors, including plain, vanilla, banana-mango and peach-pear.
Bonus: Stonyfield’s makes their multi-pack yogurt cups from plants instead of petroleum, which results in 28 percent less greenhouse gasses.
Buy it: $5 for 6 yogurts; Jet.com
Ella’s Kitchen Super Smooth Puree
Finding gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian baby food that’s healthy and appeals to kids is easier than ever, thanks to the “special diet” offerings from Ella’s Kitchen.
Health and nutrition: There’s not a single sprinkle or splash of added salt, sugars or additives in Ella’s GMO-free, organic products. And they don’t bulk up their pouches with water or fruit and veggie concentrates, either.
Taste and flavors: Ella’s Kitchen has a whopping 38 special formulations for kids on gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian diets. And the options are decidedly unboring, like Chick-Chick Chicken Casserole with Vegetables (lactose- and gluten-free), Big Smiles Cheesy Potatoes with Veggies (vegetarian and gluten-free) and Hugely Hearty Four Bean Feast with Big Flavor (vegetarian and lactose- and gluten-free.
Bonus: These pouches (which come with caps and straws) contain zero BPA (bisphenol A) or phthalates, which are the main toxin concerns when it comes to plastics. Plus, says Bumpie Lindsay V., “Ella’s is made by a dad who knows how important feeding his daughter is. It makes me feel so good about choosing it.”
Buy it: $13 for 6 pouches, Amazon.com
Amara Organic Baby Food
Unlike most baby foods on the market, Amara isn’t ready-to-eat. Instead, you’re meant to blend in their organic offerings with your own breast milk, formula or simply water.
Health and nutrition: Amara uses a cold high-pressure processing technique that gently dries fruits, veggies and grains via pressure instead of high heat. This method locks in the max amount of vitamins and nutrients without additives, preservatives or pesky fillers. (And yes, it’s organic.)
Taste and flavors: Choose from four delicious flavors: Apple sauce with maqui berry, mango, kale potato mash, and banana.
Bonus: You can incorporate these freeze-dried goodies into other scrumptious meals—find recipes for kale potato pancakes and applesauce teething biscuits on the Amara website.
Buy it: Starting at $11 for 5 pouches, AmaraOrganicFoods.com
Beech-Nut Coldpurée Pouches
These easy-to-squeeze, on-the-go pouches are just-right for babies 8 months and older. Not only will your little one be exposed to a variety of flavors, but being able to feed herself works those fine motor skills.
Health and nutrition: Many baby foods are steamed over high heat, which can strip fruits and veggies of some of their nutrients. Beech-Nut Coldpurée organic pouches, however, are prepared cold, so more nutrients are left where they should be: in baby’s meal.
Taste and flavors: There are 10 flavors to choose from, including pear, pumpkin and cranberry; apple, sweet potato, pineapple and oat; and banana, blueberry and avocado. Because of the way the purees are prepared, fruits and veggies stay true to their original color, flavor, aroma and texture.
Bonus: There’s no BPA in any of their packaging materials. Also, we love that Beech-Nut acknowledges that parents can like store-bought baby food and make their own: There’s a slew of yummy-looking baby food recipes on their website.
Buy it: $6 for 4 pouches, Target.com
Baby Mum-Mum Rice Rusks
You’d be hard pressed to find a babe who doesn’t love this rice teething biscuit—but really, no teething is necessary to enjoy this tasty snack.
Health and nutrition: These crispy bites are allergen-free, gluten-free and non-GMO verified. And they’re baked with no added fats, oils or salt. Some options are 100 percent organic to boot.
Taste and flavors: Mum-Mums are made from Japonica rice, which is the same yummy stuff used for sushi (no wonder they taste so good). There are eight varieties to choose from—some organic, some not—and include original, vegetable (with kale, carrot, spinach and cabbage), blueberry and goji, and banana.
Bonus: They dissolve easily, making it a safe and no–mess food choice for your budding babe.
Buy it: $16 for 24 rusks, Amazon.com
Sprout Organic Stage 3 Organic Baby Food
If you’re raising a mini vegetarian or simply want to expose your child to a variety of meat-free and dairy-free protein options, this 8-month-and-up baby food is for you.
Health and nutrition: Beans and lentils aren’t as much of a go-to baby food as perhaps they should be. These purées are an easy opportunity to get more iron, folate, zinc and manganese in baby’s system. Plus, Sprout products are organic and GMO-free and contain zero preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or other additives.
Taste and flavors: There are three flavor mash-ups to choose from: pumpkin, apple red and lentil with cinnamon; butternut squash, chickpea, quinoa and dates; and sweet pea, carrot, corn and white bean.
Bonus: Each pouch is also dairy-free and vegan, and the packaging is 100 percent BPA-free.
Buy it: $2 each, BuyBuyBaby.com
Gerber Graduates Wagon Wheels
Once your growing baby reaching toddlerhood, she’s ready to lay her paws on Gerber Graduates Finger Foods. No, they’re not infused with quinoa or turmeric or other flavors du jour—they’re simply a classic that babies everywhere adore. (A head’s up: These wheels don’t dissolve, so try these yourself first to help gauge your tot’s readiness.)
Health and nutrition: There’s plenty of vitamin E, iron and zinc in these goodies, without any artificial flavoring or coloring.
Taste and flavors: There are two varieties: banana and apple. “A friend recommended Gerber wagon wheels to us because she loved how natural and flavorful they were,” says Bumpie Joan H. “After using them, I totally agree.”
Bonus: These wheels are pretty fun to eat, and are great for inspiring toddler self-feeding.
Buy it: $3, Walmart.com
Happy Tot Super Morning Bowl
Got a picky eater on your hands? Thank goodness Happy Family does a fab job of shoehorning super-nutrients into breakfast with their ready-to-eat oatmeal bowls for toddlers one year and up.
Health and nutrition: These organic and GMO-free bowls all contain a brain-boosting mix of omega-3-rich oats, quinoa and chia. And with 3g of fiber a pop, you’ll help keep that stubborn toddler digestive system moving. There’s also no added sugar—all the sweetness comes from organic fruit.
Taste and flavors: Go with the oatmeal sprouted quinoa with organic apples and blueberries, or bananas and strawberries—either way, you’ll win.
Bonus: These hearty bowls are gluten-free! We also love that the Happy Family website has an allergy filter so you can see if your faves are wheat-free, peanut-free, corn-free, kosher and more.
Buy it: $2 each, ToysRUs.com
Updated November 2017