As a busy parent, time isn’t always on your side. Making baby food from scratch can be stressful and time consuming, especially when it comes to appeasing picky eaters. Luckily, there are several pre-made organic baby food options that take the guesswork out of feeding your child.
Since the National Organic Program of the USDA has developed strict rules and regulations that govern USDA certified organic foods, those carrying the USDA organic seal cannot contain GMOs or any artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. And certain studies show that organic fruits and vegetables have significantly more antioxidant polyphenols than conventionally grown produce. Encouraging an abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables at all ages is key, but organically grown produce can provide some additional benefits without the GMOs or preservatives.
And speaking of ages, our nutrition experts point out that baby food stages aren’t standardized but there are general guidelines that many brands utilize. Keep in mind that every baby develops differently, and some babies are ready for stage 2 before they are 7 months old, while others may not be ready until they are closer to 10 months old. Talk to your pediatrician to help guide you throughout the process, and remember that it’s important for babies to advance through the stages on their own time.
As a general rule of thumb, Stage 1 foods generally consist of a single ingredient purees and are ideal for babies ages 4-6 months. Stage 2 foods are best for babies ages 6-9 months and start to incorporate more than one ingredient. Stage 3 foods are for babies 9-12 months, and they feature a lot of different textures and new flavors. Stage 4 foods are for babies at least one year of age and typically indicate that table food can be introduced.
A note on heavy metals in baby food: If you’ve heard about concerns regarding heavy metals in baby food, it’s important to know that they are naturally occurring and enter the food supply from natural sources like soil, water and air. It is nearly impossible to completely avoid these metals, but parents can minimize the risk by feeding their baby a variety of foods. Opt for grain-based cereals and snacks instead of rice-based options and be sure to limit fruit juices. Our experts say you can and should keep giving carrots and sweet potatoes because they contain important nutrients, but given that they grow in the ground, they may naturally contain higher levels of heavy metals so be sure to serve them along with other fruits and vegetables.
To make sure you're giving your child the very best, we put several brands to the test through a panel of kids, moms and editors to see which organic baby food products are the best for your baby. We’ve also included information on what measures each brand is taking regarding minimizing heavy metals in their products. Here are the best organic baby foods of 2022:
This subscription-based baby food service brings a unique twist to the traditional baby food we see on the market. Our nutrition pros appreciate that the organic baby blends feature nutritious ingredient combinations including chia seeds, buckwheat, pumpkin seed and hemp seeds. Plus, they offer a line of small packs called boosters that act as nutritional supplements to mix into your baby’s food that our mommy testers loved. You can select from four different types of boosters that are carefully sourced with vitamins, minerals, probiotics and organic produce.
Their line of Babyblends purees are now Clean Label Project verified, which tests for over 400 industrial environmental contaminants including heavy metals and more.
These organic baby and toddler meals are conveniently delivered to your door and are packed with super nutrients. Our nutrition pros and testers both love that Tiny products are free from the big 8 allergens. Curated by a team of chef and neonatal nutritionists, the meals are made fresh and shipped frozen. Their new Tiny Beginnings product line has six different plant-based baby meal options to choose from and is created for 4-8-month-olds.
When sourcing ingredients, Tiny's team shared with GH that they require the farmers to provide heavy metal tests on the lots from the year prior and when they harvest the new lot. The team also does internal lab tests on specific ingredients to make sure it is within the brand's specifications. All ingredients are all sustainably sourced within the US from local farms to reduce carbon footprint and are USDA-certified organic.
Registered dietitians in the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab evaluated dozens of baby food products, specifically analyzing ingredient lists and nutrition labels. Our nutrition experts prioritized USDA Certified Organic options made with wholesome ingredients and free of artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. We also investigated efforts that the brands are making to minimize heavy metal exposure in their products. In addition to expert analysis, we recruited a panel of parents and little ones to provide real-life feedback on quality, variety, portion sizes, convenience, packaging and more. We’re confident that our top picks are the best organic baby food options to provide exceptional nourishment and quality.
As deputy director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab for the past two years, Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN, NASM-CPT handles all nutrition content, product testing and evaluation. She stays up to date on the latest research to provide evidence-based reporting on all things diet and nutrition, and she also runs large-scale tests and analysis for products ranging from protein bars to supplements. She has a master's degree in clinical nutrition from New York University and has been a registered dietitian for six years, working in the clinical setting prior to Good Housekeeping and obtaining advanced credentials and board certifications in the nutrition field. As a new mom to a 6-month-old baby girl, Stefani is personally invested in thoroughly vetting and testing baby food products for her family and yours.