Homemade Baby and Toddler Food Has Never Been Easier (or Tastier)

Cooking for your baby or toddler can jump-start a lifelong love of good, healthy food. You’ll also know exactly what your child is eating. (And just think of the money you’ll save!) We’re excited to announce the publication of our latest cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen Kids, The Complete Baby and Toddler Cookbook. The recipes are arranged chronologically, from delicious purees for your six-month-old to family meals sure to please both you and your toddler. This week we’ve gathered all of the equipment you’ll need to cook for your little ones.

The Very Best Purees, Finger Foods, and Toddler Meals for Happy Families

The Complete Baby and Toddler Cookbook

$16.50 $24.99

The Vitamix 5200 will pulverize anything it touches—but its steep price will also do the same to your bank account. Still, thanks to an extra-large capacity, it’s ideal for big jobs in the kitchen. This blender performed perfectly to crush ice, blend hummus, and churn frozen fruit into smoothies, and its dial precisely controlled speed. Additional functions, like making ice cream and heating soup, were less successful: We wound up with tepid soup and runny ice cream. But we didn’t downgrade this powerful machine because it excelled at core tasks.  More on this test

This new blender from Breville improves upon its predecessor in a few key ways. It’s more powerful, so it can get smoothies and almond butter even smoother, and it has a dedicated “green smoothie” button that completely blends fibrous ingredients into a silky smooth drink. It’s reasonably quiet and reasonably compact, and combined its ingredients efficiently with minimal pauses to scrape down the sides. Like the previous model, it still automatically stops every 60 seconds, which can be a little annoying during longer blends, but this wasn’t that big of an issue. Its timer makes tracking recipe stages very easy.  More on this test

With a plastic lid that latched easily and securely and an airtight, leakproof seal that didn't drip or let moisture in, this container is our top choice for glass storage. Its ⅜-inch-wide, soft, square silicone gasket was easy to remove and replace for cleaning, and the faintly fishy odors it retained disappeared after rewashing. The plastic lid showed a slight orange tint after the chili test, but this faded as the container went through more dishwashing cycles. It also resisted warping and emerged intact at the end of testing. The 8-cup container, which looked like a glass loaf pan, held plenty of food, though we'd prefer a slightly flatter, wider shape to help foods heat and chill a bit more uniformly.  More on this test

The roomiest product of the bunch, this baby food maker consists of a two-tiered steamer basket and an attached blender. It easily accommodated entire recipes, and we loved the stackable baskets, which could be arranged to fit either a lot of one food or smaller amounts of multiple foods. The large steaming chamber and multiple functions also give this product more versatility: You can steam fish fillets for dinner while simultaneously cooking veggies for baby. And it also functions as a bottle warmer, defroster, and “sterilizer.” (A bit of bad labeling: Our science editor pointed out that it sanitizes—reducing the number of microorganisms on the surfaces—rather than wholly sterilizing them. Our temperature tests found that it gets hot enough to sanitize, which is considered 200 degrees for 5 minutes for most commercial dishwashers.) Its blender was powerful and made silky-smooth purees with little fuss. While it takes up a fair amount of counter space when fully assembled, the blender section can be detached and stored when not in use, nearly halving the footprint.  More on this test

With a powerful, quiet motor; responsive pulsing action; sharp blades; and a simple, pared-down-to-basics design, our old favorite aced every test, surprising us time and again by outshining pricier, more feature-filled competitors. It was one of the few models that didn’t leak at its maximum stated liquid capacity. It’s also easy to clean and store, because it comes with just a chopping blade and two disks for shredding and slicing. Additional blade options are available à la carte. NOTE: Cuisinart has announced a recall of the older riveted S-blade of our winning food processor, which was included in models sold from 1996 through December 2015. Cuisinart will replace the blade free of charge, and the new blade will fit old machines. Anyone with this older blade should contact Cuisinart at https://recall.cuisinart.com (or call 1-877-339-2534).  More on this test

Our longtime winner excelled, with uniform, steady heating and good visibility inside the saucepan to monitor browning. Its cup-shaped stay-cool handle was easy to grip, and a helper handle provided another grabbing point when the pan was full. Even after brutal whacking on concrete, this model emerged with only tiny dents inside and one slight dent on the bottom, and it still sat flat on the counter.  More on this test

Our old favorite fits a good amount of food, and we love its new telescoping handle: When the handle is extended to the full 4 inches, it's easy to grip to move the steamer in and out of the pot. The handle can also collapse to 2.5 inches when the steamer is in the pot or for compact storage. Our only quibbles? The metal leaves are a bit finicky to clean and bent a little during testing, though the unit remained perfectly functional throughout.  More on this test

This extremely sturdy, warp-resistant baking sheet turned out evenly cooked and browned chicken, cauliflower, and focaccia. Its lightweight, compact size made it easy to maneuver into and out of the oven. Its size is ideal for preparing recipes that serve two and for kitchen tasks that require only a small amount of space, such as toasting a handful of nuts or a few tablespoons of sesame seeds.   More on this test

This brush had an ideally sized brush head—neither too short nor too long—with bristles that were just under 1 inch long and optimally positioned on both the brush head's sides and tip, allowing us to effectively scrub most containers we tried. The rigid handle had a large, rubber-coated grip that made it comfortable to hold. One tester said this brush was “remarkably easy to rinse” and “seems clean and non-icky,” but it's also dishwasher-safe for even simpler cleaning.  More on this test

This tall tool has a sturdy metal mashing plate supported by a long, curved handle made of slip-free plastic. The plethora of small holes on its mashing plate made an ultracreamy, smooth mash, and its handle felt comfortable in hands of all sizes. Its round mashing plate eased effortlessly along the edges of every pan and made quick work of mashing all types of potatoes.  More on this test

"In Japan, traditional bento boxes commonly contained rice, pickled vegetables, and fish or meat, but today they often include a wide variety of foods." -Emily Phares, Assistant Editor

Our winner had the largest capacity in the lineup, with two 4-ounce containers that could be used together or separately—the latter option allowing us to pack different foods or prep two meals at once. Both containers were more than 2 inches deep, so it was easy to stir in and eat from them without spilling. The airtight lids sometimes required a bit of strength to remove, but we didn't mind because it was the only container that never leaked. This plastic model retained a barely noticeable sardine smell after one wash, but that faded after a second wash. This model is available in a variety of colors.  More on this test