How to Choose the Best Baby Food Delivery Service
Want baby food delivered right to your door? Here are some of your options and how to choose the best service for your family.
A lot of busy parents rely on mail-order meal kits to get dinner on the table. Now babies have their own home-delivered options, thanks to companies cropping up that promise wholesome baby food brought right to your door. Here are some of your options—plus some important things to keep in mind before hitting "ORDER".
Raised Real: Plant based and organically sourced, these meals are made up of small pieces of food that are flash frozen and packaged in individual pouches. Empty the pieces into a pan, steam for five minutes on the stovetop, then puree, mash, or serve as finger foods. You opt to get either 12 or 24 meals every two or four weeks and set ingredient preferences. All meals are free of the top eight allergens and last in the freezer for 3-6 months. Sample meals: Beet, sweet potato, date, cinnamon, and coconut butter; Peas, zucchini, hemp seeds, basil, and avocado oil; Sweet potato, mango, coconut milk, lucuma powder, and chia seeds. Cost per meal: $4.99 and up
Yumi: They offer plant-based, single-ingredient purees, stage two multi-ingredient purees, and chunky purees of organic foods, packaged in BPA/BPS-free plastic jars. Their meals, free of the top 8 allergens, stay fresh in the fridge for six days or two months in the freezer. They also offer a "Tot Box" of "Bites" (blends of their baby food in bite-size pieces you heat and serve) and ready-to-eat "Puffs". Sample meal: Purple sweeet potato puree; Peaches & Blackberry Chia Pudding; Carrot, spinach, and millet bites. Cost per meal: $4.29 and up
Nurture Life: Designed by chefs and pediatric dietitians, the meals are peanut-, tree nut- (minus coconut), and shellfish-free. Baby meals are packed in plastic jars, and they offer meals for toddlers and big kids packaged on microwavable trays. Choose from a large variety of meals for your baby, toddler, or child. Sample meals: beef meatloaf; broccoli and butternut squash (babies); chicken meatballs with pasts and vegetables (kids + toddlers). Cost per meal: $6.89 for babies; $7.99 for toddlers; $7.99 for kids 5-10; and $10.99 for kids 11-18
Fresh Bellies: These organic purees come in recyclable, refrigerated, plastic cups (with a spoon attached to each lid) and are sold in two- and eight-packs. Meals are not allergen-free and are made in a facility that also processes nuts, milk, and fish. They also offer freeze-dried pepper and mango snacks for toddlers. And their products are shipped in biodegradable foam that dissolves in the sink under running water. Sample meals: Apple, blueberry, and mint; Broccoli, swiss chard, and garlic; Golden beets and thyme. Cost per meal: $3.49 and up
Tummy Thyme: Made with organic ingredients, the meals come in either refrigerated single-serve jars or frozen cubes (you defrost the cubes in the fridge overnight or heat straight from frozen). Choose between purees, textured, and chunky meals. You can order 12-24 meals delivered every two weeks or simply buy meals a la carte as you need them. Currently only available in California, Utah, Nevada & Arizona. Sample meals: Sweet potato, pear, and parsnip with sage; Grass-fed beef bolognese with barley; Butternut squash mac n' peas (toddlers). Cost per meal: $3.43 and up (babies); $5.00 (toddlers)
Little Spoon: More than 80 kinds of organic ingredients are offered in these plant-based meals that are free from the top 8 allergens, plus gluten. The plans offer between 1-3 meals per day, and you can choose between simple, textured, and adventurous blends that come packed in refrigerated, recyclable plastic tubs with spoons. Sample meals: Kale, carrot, and pear; Broccoli, pineapple, banana, and hemp; Pea, tahini, green apple, thyme, avocado, ground chia, and pear. Cost per meal: $2.06 and up.
Before you buy your first box, here are a few things to keep in mind from pediatric dietitian Jessica Gust, RDN (who has done some consulting work with Tummy Thyme):
Baby needs more than fruits and vegetables. Many companies focus on fruit and veggie purees, which can help meet vitamin needs. But babies also need nutrients like iron, zinc, and fat. Blends that contain meat, beans, chickpeas, peas, lentils and quinoa can provide iron--even better if they're mixed with a source of vitamin C (such as strawberries), since C boosts iron absorption, says Gust. Some companies will also add fats like avocado, olive or coconut oil.
Texture transitions matter. "Most babies should be moving on to lumpier textures by 7-8 months to keep development and feeding progression on track," says Gust. "Getting stuck in that puree food zone too long can cause more issues with transition down the road." If you plan to keep using a mail delivery service past the first month or two of starting solids, she recommends looking for a company that offers a progression of textures from puree to lumpy to textured to more solid finger foods.
Variety is key. "If parents only order a few flavors on repeat, that isn't ideal for exposure to variety," says Gust. The more flavors you expose your baby to, the better. So order a wide variety—and if there are foods your baby doesn't like the first time, keep offering those too!
Table foods are still important. When your baby is getting different food from the rest of the family every night, it can leave him out of the family meal, says Gust. The end goal is for your child to be eating the same foods as the rest of the family. So when you can, pair the delivered food with some of the family's dinner too.
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. She is the author of The 101 Healthiest Foods For Kids. She also collaborated with Cooking Light on Dinnertime Survival Guide, a cookbook for busy families. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. In her spare time, she loads and unloads the dishwasher. Then loads it again.