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Ah, the joys of feeding babies…on one hand, it’s adorable to watch your little one enjoy food for the first time, and on the other hand, it’s messy (like, really messy) and stressful (are they eating enough? what if they choke?). I’m a huge fan of purees for the first month or so, then transitioning to soft solids once baby is used to having different textures and flavors. I used this approach with both of my kids, and it felt like a happy medium between purees and baby-led weaning.
With my first, I made all her first purees myself – something that still brings me pride and joy today. However with my second, I simply don’t have the time to do everything by hand. I still make a few things myself, but I’ve found that I need to supplement with some store bought purees. So, I set out to find the best baby food on the market.
To get a well-rounded mix, I chose three brands to test. First is Yumi, an organic DTC baby food company that boasts “whole foods with no junk” as well as no gluten or dairy. Next we have Little Spoon, another DTC brand that makes fresh meals with a variety of high quality ingredients. And finally, Gerber, the household staple that you almost certainly enjoyed when you were a baby.
Test #1: Ingredients & Quality
Yumi: Yumi’s big thing is “real food.” The brand is intentional about its ingredients, which are all high quality and organic, sourced from local farmers. The brand’s goal is “an easy, worry-free option that you can feel good about and to share knowledge that inspires a lifetime of eating.” I can get behind that! I love that every meal is free of sugar, preservatives, and allergens. Even better, Yumi is the recipient of the Clean Label Project Purity Award, which tests for over 400 environmental and industrial toxins including heavy metals. If you’ve done any research into prepared baby food recently, you probably know alllll about the arsenic/rice scandal. It’s nice to know that Yumi doesn’t use any rice products, thus avoiding the issue altogether. Verdict: 10/10
Little Spoon: Similarly, Little Spoon also boasts 100% organic, non-GMO ingredients that are free of preservatives, and after testing out the brand’s baby blends and toddler smoothie pouches, I am really impressed with the ingredient quality. It truly tastes fresh. By contrast, Little Spoon’s meals are not totally allergen free -- many of the meals do contain gluten or dairy. This is not an issue for me as I believe in exposing my kids to as many allergens as possible starting at 6 months. Plus, the website does make it very easy to filter by allergen, so it’s super clear what you’re getting. On the flip side, Little Spoon isn’t quite as transparent as Yumi when it comes to actual ingredient quality, so it’s a bit harder to get information. Verdict: 8/10
Gerber: I have to be honest: I was expecting to be unimpressed by Gerber’s ingredients (given how pervasive they are in big box stores), but it turns out I’m not giving the brand enough credit. Gerber has an entire line of organic purees that are also unsalted and made without artificial flavors or colors. In fact, other than a Vitamin C preservative (to ensure shelf stability), the ingredients are squeaky clean. Gerber is also pretty transparent about ingredient sourcing which I really appreciate. Even the “natural” line is more or less clean making Gerber a great option for families who prefer to buy in store. Verdict: 7/10
Test #2: Variety
Yumi: Ingredient and meal variety is one of my favorite things about Yumi. From basics like simple peach or zucchini purees, to more complex flavors like adzuki bean, Japanese sweet potato and dragon fruit, Yumi’s meals make it so easy to expose your baby to a huge array of flavors from day one. Once baby is a bit older, Yumi offers combination meals like a Cubano quinoa bowl, mushroom bolognese, and broccoli lentil bites that -- dare I say -- give your baby a five star restaurant experience right at home. Verdict: 10/10
Little Spoon: Little Spoon’s babyblend line is also full of interesting and delicious flavors, like parsnip, broccoli banana hemp, or our current favorite gingerbread cookie (a festive blend of pumpkin, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, date, squash and pear). My only complaint is that they don’t have the same variety as Yumi – all the flavors are good, but not quite as complex. Verdict: 8/10
Gerber: While I was pleasantly impressed with the food quality, unfortunately Gerber doesn’t offer nearly the same variety as we see with Yumi and Little Spoon. The lineup is largely full of the “basics” – squash, apple, pear, broccoli, things like that. It would be great for first foods, but doesn’t do much in terms of consistently exposing your kids to a range of flavors. Verdict: 4/10
Test #3: Packaging
Yumi: For starters, Yumi’s packaging is very cute. I love that the jars are compact and come with resealable lids in case your little doesn’t eat everything at once. They’re made with BPA/BPS-free plastic, and while I prefer glass, Yumi actually intentionally chose plastic so that babies could self-feed (aka throw the jar on the ground). What’s even more awesome is that the jars and insulation are curbside recyclable and the custom ice packs are reusable. Verdict: 10/10
Little Spoon: The Little Spoon jars have a similar vibe (100% BPA free; made with #1 PET plastic and #5 PP Plastic), but because they’re square I find it’s easier to stack them up in the fridge (it’s the little things, you know?). They also come with mini spoons, which are nice for feeding on the go. In addition, Little Spoon’s toddler plates are microwave and dishwasher safe, meaning you can reuse them for future meals or even crafts. Verdict: 9/10
Gerber: There are a few things I really love about Gerber’s packaging -- first, I appreciate that the jars are on the smaller side (in case baby doesn’t want a bigger meal) and glass. I usually move food from the jar into a silicone suction bowl, so I am less concerned about baby knocking over the actual jar itself, and I feel better about food being stored in a glass jar, especially if it’s sitting on the shelf in a grocery store. Second, Gerber recently shared plans to be 100% carbon neutral by 2035, starting with baby jars and pouches. In early 2020, Gerber announced a first-of-its-kind, single-material baby food pouch which is more recyclable than its competitors. Verdict: 9/10
Test #4: Cost & Purchase Model
Yumi: Yumi’s model is anchored in weekly subscription, where fresh food is delivered right to your door (awesome). Depending which plan you choose, meals range from $3.75-$4.30/jar and are totally customizable based on what you want to serve each week. It’s not the cheapest option, but Yumi does make things easy. Not only do you save time, you also get a variety of options that change as baby gets older. Verdict: 7/10
Little Spoon: Little Spoon is also an online-only subscription model based business. Deliveries come roughly every 2 weeks and baby blends range from $2.74-$3.49/jar. Similarly, you can customize what you like/don’t like for each delivery. Verdict: 8/10
Gerber: Gerber, as we all know, is widely available and can be purchased at pretty much any grocery or convenience store. Prices vary a bit based on store, but generally range from $0.98-$2 per jar, making it super affordable. However, there is a time cost as there is no delivery option and you’ll need to physically select items on your own. Verdict: 7/10
Winner: Little Spoon
Final Verdict: Yumi
This was a pretty tight contest: each brand has significant pros and cons, making all three great options for your family. But for me, Yumi is the clear winner as it takes all the guesswork out of feeding littles. I love peace of mind knowing that I’m feeding my baby the highest quality ingredients out there, exposing her to a huge variety of flavors and textures, and that it’s delivered regularly right to my doorstep.