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Homemade baby food is a safe option

Between food recalls and worries about Bisphenol A or additives like sodium and preservatives in canned, jarred and packaged foods, many parents rest easier knowing exactly what their babies are eating. The best way to know what goes into your baby food is to make it yourself, and it can also save you money. But between steaming, pureeing, straining and serving, prepping baby food can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. That's where baby food makers come in.

Generally, baby food makers fall into two categories: food processors and food mills. Baby food processors are all-in-one units that contain everything you need to turn raw food into a finished meal; they steam and puree in one device. Some even offer features such as bottle warming, food reheating and defrosting or pacifier sanitizing, and many allow you to serve straight from the cup used to prepare the food. You'll pay a premium for convenience, however; all-in-one baby food makers cost anywhere from $60 to $200.

Food mills are electric or manual devices that chop, blend or puree cooked foods. These usually function a lot like a blender or full-sized food processor, but are smaller and more portable, making them easier to use on a daily basis.

Because baby food mills are used to process foods that have already been prepared, they typically cost less than all-in-one baby food makers, about $20 to $60. This makes them especially popular for preparing food for toddlers and older babies who can eat the same foods as the rest of the family. Depending on the model, baby food mills may also be more practical for preparing large batches of food.

Baby food makers are designed to prepare just a serving or two, not a large batch for storage and consumption later. Some parents prefer to cook in large batches, while others like to cook just a meal or two at a time. Parents who want to make a lot of baby food in one sitting for storage may want to check out our reports on blenders and food processors.

Keeping in mind performance, ease of use and durability, editors analyze what the experts say about baby food makers, then evaluate hundreds of owner reviews. The result is our picks for the best baby food makers and baby food mills.

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