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Baby Food Pouches

Published September 2018

How we tested

In the past few years, a new product has emerged in the baby food market: the squeezable food pouch. With small spouts and twist-off caps, these lightweight pouches are tidier than using a spoon and convenient for babies and young kids to eat on the go. Supermarkets sell many baby and toddler foods in pouch form; we tested reusable pouches that parents can fill with the food of their choice and serve fresh or freeze for later use.

There are two styles of reusable pouches: thin plastic pouches sold in sets and thicker silicone models shaped like squeeze bottles and sold individually. All were described as suitable for children as young as 6 months old. We bought six brands, priced from $0.99 to $13.99 per pouch, with capacities from 4 to 7 ounces each. We tested how easy they were to fill, use, and clean and whether they retained stains or odors. Since drops and spills happen, we also examined how durable they were and whether they leaked. Finally, we sent the pouches home with America’s Test Kitchen staffers to use with their children, who ranged from 7 months to 5 years old.

Finding a Pouch That Is Easy to Fill

A good baby food pouch should be easy to fill. We tested ours with thin applesauce; thick, fibrous sweet potato puree; and bold-colored beet puree. Some companies recommended using a funnel, but all claimed that their pouches could be filled without extra equipment. So we tried using a spoon and, if that was too difficult or messy, we used a funnel.

The four plastic pouches are designed similarly. Each has two parts: a thin, stiff plastic body with a hard plastic spout attached and a screw-on cap. There’s also a zipper-lock opening, either on the bottom or side of the pouch. The soft silicone models, on the other hand, were designed more like baby bottles and had four or five pieces. Since these models have just one opening, they are filled and cleaned through the neck of the bottle.

Overall, our testers found that the plastic models were much easier to fill. Parents reported that adding food to the “floppy” silicone pouches was more difficult: Trying to hold one of these models steady, one of our parent testers accidentally squeezed it, “causing an applesauce volcano to erupt.” These pouches also had small openings, just 0.75 or 1.25 inches wide, which added to the challenges: “I had to keep cleaning the mouth of the pouch as the applesauce dripped over,” reported one tester. “It took forever to fill.”

By contrast, the plastic pouches had zipper-lock-style openings ranging from 3 to 5.85 inches wide—plenty of room to neatly spoon in purees. Our favorite was even designed to stand up on its own, which parents said was a big bonus: “I sometimes do this one-handed,” one mom told us. “I hold [my son] in one arm and fill pouches with the other arm—so it's got to be fast and easy.”

Eating from Baby Food Pouches

As silly as it sounds, in the name of research and science, we adults ate purees from the pouches when they were full, half full, and almost empty. All models were successful with one exception: a plastic pouch that had a removable insert for the spout, meant to prevent liquidy foods from spilling out. It worked a bit too well—not even thin applesauce could get through. However, once we removed the spout, this pouch performed just as well as the others.

We also wanted a pouch that wouldn’t break or spill if a child dropped it, so we let each one fall to the ground with and without its cap on. All emerged damage-free, and only a small amount of food came out when they were dropped without their caps.

Which Pouch is Simplest to Clean?

A reusable pouch is no good if it’s hard to clean or hangs on to stains and odors. So we loaded the pouches with beet puree and let them sit in the refrigerator for three days. Then we washed each one in the dishwasher, a process that was a little tedious since we had to disassemble and thoroughly rinse them before carefully placing them over spokes in the dishwasher. None came out stained, although some retained a slight odor that went away with additional washes. However, one plastic pouch emerged with beet puree stuck in its crevices. The spout and its 3-inch opening were located next to each other on the rectangular body, so it was hard to flush water through the pouch. Comparably, the spout and opening were further apart on other plastic models (and sometimes on opposite edges of the pouch), so water flowed through more easily. And as for the silicone models, there were more pieces to keep track of, but we did like that they lacked nooks and crannies, so there was no place for food to get stuck.

Our Favorite Reusable Baby & Toddler Food Pouches: Baby Brezza Reusable Baby Food Storage Pouches

After putting the baby food pouches to use in the test kitchen and at home, an all-around favorite emerged: the Baby Brezza Reusable Baby Food Storage Pouches ($9.99 for ten 7-ounce pouches). These plastic pouches were the least expensive in our lineup and come with a funnel, though we found them easy to fill without it. They had the widest opening of all the models and stand up on their own, so parents need just one free hand to fill them, and they’re easy to keep clean, too. These pouches have a plainly marked maximum fill line and are see-through, which prevents overfilling. They also have a designated place to label the pouch with the date it was filled. The Baby Brezza pouches make it easy and convenient for little ones to eat on the go.

Methodology

We tested six reusable baby pouches: four multipack thin plastic pouches and two thicker silicone models that are sold individually. We measured the liquid capacity of each pouch with water and tested the pouches with thin applesauce; thick, fibrous sweet potato puree; and beet puree. Throughout testing, we evaluated how easy they were to fill, use, and clean. Twelve children, ages 7 months to 5 years, used the pouches at home; parents and older children provided feedback on their experiences. The scores were averaged across all tests. Information on the pouch material was obtained from manufacturers. Prices were paid online, and products appear below in order of preference.

Filling: We filled pouches with applesauce, sweet potato puree, and beet puree, giving higher ratings to models that had a wide enough opening and maximum fill lines and were made from translucent plastic.

Cleaning: We filled pouches with beet puree and left them to sit for three days, had testers use and clean pouches, and washed each pouch 10 times on the top rack of the dishwasher. We gave highest marks to models that came out of the dishwasher clean every time, dried relatively quickly, and had an opening large enough to dry the inside with a dish towel. Models lost points if they had more than two components to disassemble and wash.

Performance: We sipped applesauce and sweet potato puree from each pouch, evaluating how easy they were to eat from. Pouches also received higher scores if they were comfortable to handle.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*