Baby Food Pouch Guide

Written by:

Maia James

Looking for a different guide? Browse them all HERE.

1. White Leaf Provisions / 2. Cerebelly /  3. Once Upon a Farm 4. / Serenity Kids / 5. Holle

Baby food pouches are much easier to handle than jars of food, and both of my kids enjoyed them well into their preschool years. In addition, pouched baby food is probably more nutritious than jarred foods (more on this below).

But not all brands of pouched baby foods–even the organic ones–are Good Stuff. In fact, we found only four brands that we can definitively recommend, which we’ve listed above.

Read on to learn how to read pouched baby food labels, the concerning contaminants you won’t see on labels, and which brands are Okay Stuff if you aren’t able to find the Good Stuff.

My Favorite Baby Food Pouches

I’m partial to White Leaf Provisions baby food pouches because they are biodynamic in addition to being organic. You’ll read more about this brand below, under “The Good Stuff.”

White Leaf Provisions Organic Baby Food Pouches

The Problems with Baby Food Pouches

Baby food pouches offer convenience, and I think they also offer a solid option for nutritious food for babies and toddlers. But pouched baby foods aren’t without drawbacks and concerns.

  • The biggest issue with baby food sold in pouches rather than glass jars is that is that the plastic pouches can not be easily recycled. All of the brands we reviewed use the same basic materials for their pouches, which is a combination of BPA-free polypropylene and foil. Fortunately, polypropylene seems to be the safest type of plastic, but that fact that you can’t really recycle it is obviously a big problem.
  • There are other potential downsides to pouch-feeding, including that it may inhibit chewing and even normal speech development. That said, I wouldn’t worry too much about this as long as your child has ample opportunity to eat finger foods in a variety of textures.
  • The issue of heavy metals in baby foods–while not unique to pouched food–is hugely concerning, and we covered this in depth here. (The one sentence story is: In 2020, the Subcommittee on Economic & Consumer Policy reported that arsenic, lead, and cadmium were present at problematic levels in many brands of organic baby food.) The big takeaway is to avoid rice-based baby food and anything with fruit juice concentrate, but we will also cover metal contamination in our review of the brands below.

The Upsides of Baby Food Pouches

Besides the convenience factor, pouched baby food has some advantages over traditional jarred baby food, including:

  • According to the companies that use them, plastic pouches better protect flavor and nutrients, and require lower, shorter heat times.
  • Pouches are free of BPA, whereas the lids of jarred food may contain BPA.
  • Pouches are roughly ten times lighter than classic glass jars, so they require that much less energy to produce and ship.
  • While pouches cannot be recycled, they use 75 percent less materials than traditional baby food containers.

A Non-Pouch Baby Food We Love

Amara is the only brand to freeze-dry whole, organic ingredients and then pulse them into powder to make baby food. Amara’s blends don’t use high heat processing, which also results in a lower-sugar final product.

Amara’s packets can be re-hydrated with water, breast milk, or formula, and it’s amazing to see them turn to a puree that retains the natural taste and texture of the whole ingredients.

All Amara suppliers must meet third-party federal requirements for heavy metals, and none of Amara’s blends contain rice.

We also love that Amara’s packets are lightweight, making them less of an environmental burden, and that they are more affordable than pouched baby food.

Check out Amara here

How We Ranked Baby Food Pouches

What follows is our ranking of baby food pouches–some are Good, some are Okay, and others should be avoided entirely, and you’ll find these in our Bad Stuff and Sneaky Stuff sections.

The Good Stuff brands are the ones that are not only organic and nutritionally superior, but also those that offer some form of independent testing or certification to prove that they are not contaminated with heavy metals.

The Okay Stuff category is home to the brands that we would basically feel fine feeding to our babies, especially if it wasn’t their sole source of food. These brands didn’t make the cut for Good Stuff because either they lack certifications or independent testing or because they contain non-whole food ingredients–such as fruit juice concentrate or some kind of “flavoring.”

The Bad Stuff and Sneaky Stuff brands are ones that we would not recommend buying, due to either sub-par ingredients or contamination concerns. It’s worth noting that my boys both grew up eating Sneaky Stuff pouches since none of the Good Stuff brands existing even five years ago!

There are also several brands from which that we could not obtain sufficient information to determine whether they contain concerning levels of heavy metals or not. These include Peter Rabbit Organics, Ella’s Kitchen, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods 365 pouches.

Good Stuff

White Leaf Provisions

This is our very favorite baby food–which even older kids love! It’s super clean and even better than organic (although it IS organic), because it’s also Biodynamic.

Biodynamic farming is adamantly opposed to genetic modification organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, gardening, and food processing. International biodynamic standards forbid the use of any GMOs and ingredients, including animal feeds, that would never occur in the natural world.

Cerebelly

These pouches of baby food have always been tested for heavy metals, not just since the issue got so much attention. Cerebelly pouches are Clean Label Certified, and our team’s Dr. Hopkins has vetted this certification process as sufficiently robust.

Cerebelly’s founder is a neurosurgeon who casually also has her PhD, and these blends were developed to enhance brain development, with ingredients like maitake mushrooms and chlorella.

Holle Bio-Organic

Holle is a new addition to this list, because we are now able to get it in the United States! Unlike the FDA, the EU sets standards for heavy metals in baby food.

We also love that Holle’s pouches are made with no purees or fruit juices–just whole fruits and veggies. Their are no additives or flours–grains include whole oat or spelt.

Finally, Holle is also made with ingredients that are not only organic but also biodynamic.

Biodynamic farms are built to integrate every living organism within the system to maximizing the health and vitality of the farm’s every aspect. A biodynamic farm aims to produce everything on the premises, including seeds, fertilizers, natural control agents for pests, and even the feed for livestock.

Once Upon a Farm

What makes the Once Upon a Farm blends unique is that they are cold pressed to lock in the nutrients. The high-pressure processing makes Once Upon a Farms superior to basically every brand in terms both nutrition and freshness.

Although these pouches need to be refrigerated, they are fine at room temp for four hours, so they still work on the go.

These fruit and veggie blends are made from organic, simple ingredients. They use whole produce and don’t add any sugar, even in the form of “fruit concentrate.”

Once Upon a Farm is Clean Label certified.

Serenity Kids

This line of Paleo-inspired baby food uses organic vegetables and grass-fed and pasture-raised meats. Serenity’s blends were designed to mimic the macro-nutrients found in breast milk, meaning they have a similar ratio of fats, proteins, and carbs.

All Serenity blends are free of hormones, antibiotics, GMO’s, gluten, fillers, grain, dairy, corn, allergens, eggs, and nuts. Serenity Kids is verified by the Clean Label Project, which means their products are tested for over 200 different contaminants, including heavy metals, glyphosate, agrochemicals, and plastics. Use code GIMME15 for 15% off.

Also, Serenity Kids they will refund your money, no questions asked, if your kid doesn’t like the pouches you buy!

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Okay Stuff

Gerber Organics pouches are okay if they contain just the fruit and veggies on the front of the package. But you need to label-read, because the Banana Smoothie flavor, for instance, contains banana concentrate rather than pure bananas, as well as “vanilla flavor” instead of just vanilla extract. I am giving Gerber enough points to bump their organic pouches to Okay Stuff because they were the cleanest brand in terms of heavy metal contamination in the 2020 Congressional Report.  For each of the specific heavy metals listed, the examples of Gerber ingredients’ metal levels appear relatively low compared to the other manufacturers.

Little Spoon Smoothie Pouches are new to the market and I like that they contain some nutritional powerhouses like tahini, chia seeds, and chickpeas. This is admittedly nit-picky, but I’m calling these Okay Stuff instead of Good Stuff because they use oat flour instead of actual oats in a few of their blaends, and because I can’t get any information on heavy metal testing.

Bad Stuff

Gerber is maybe the only brand that makes a non-organic pouch, so I’m calling that Bad Stuff. (Note that Gerber organic pouches are actually Okay Stuff–see above!).

GoGo squeeZ has a few organic options, even those contain concentrates in place of real fruits. Some of their blends even contain cane sugar, and they make no claims about purity from heavy metals. They also contain rice flour, natural flavors, and pea protein isolate. This brand is the worst of every brand we reviewed.

Sneaky Stuff

Beech-Nut went organic six years ago, and they make some nutritious blends that contain just mixed fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, the 2021 Congressional Report revealed that Beech-Nut continued to use ingredients after internal testing found them to have very high levels of a variety of heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, and cadmium.

Earth’s Best‘s parent company, Hain, was called out in the 2021 Congressional Report for setting its own dangerously high heavy metal internal standards, and then routinely accepting ingredients that surpassed these standards. In addition, even their simplest flavors (pears, for instance) are fortified with all sorts of stuff, including zinc sulfate, and citric acid.

HappyBABY, under the parent company Nuture, makes pouches that contain nutritious blends of vegetables and grains, and high quality proteins like wild Alaskan salmon. I would like to give them credit for testing for mercury, but the 2021 Congressional Report revealed that their test data shows finished food products with as much as 10 ppb of this neurotoxic (the recommendation is that it should not exceed 5 ppb). Nuture is also called out in the report for claiming that they used a standard of 50 ppb for lead, and then later submitting test documents showing that their standard was actually of 100 ppb.

Noka isn’t marketed for babies, but a lot of you asked about this brand. Noka is organic and I love that their pouches are hearty with things like nut butters included. Unfortunately, Noka pouches contain non-whole-food ingredients, like brown rice protein, natural flavors, and sunflower lecithin.

Plum Organics refused to comply when asked to submit heavy metal testing data to the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy in 2019, which makes them default Sneaky Stuff. Plum claims that they “responded quickly to their questions and never refused anything requested of us.” Also, it’s a little sneaky that the “grains” in these blends are actually grain flours (i.e., millet flour, oat flour, etc.) Some of Plum’s other toddler snacks contain sugar. (Note that Plum is owned by Campbell.)

Parent’s Choice is another brand that didn’t cooperate with the investigation into heavy metals in 2019. A 2021 lawsuit claims that “The Subcommittee found [Parent’s Choice’s] lack of transparency greatly concerning, fearing that they might be obscuring the presence of higher levels of toxic heavy metals in their baby food products than their competitors’ products.”

Sprout Foods faces a class suit in the state of California, USA, for “negligent, reckless, and/or intentional practice of misrepresenting and failing to fully disclose the presence of dangerous substances in its baby foods.”

Maia, Founder & CEO

Note: This article contains affiliate links or sponsored content, which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that meet our strict standards for non-toxicity and that we use (or want to use!) ourselves. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Good Stuff! 

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61 responses to “Baby Food Pouch Guide”

  1. Shana Zubicek Avatar
    Shana Zubicek

    I am letting every mother out there know about the horrible time our family has had. At a year old we had our oldest daughter tested for lead and she came back at 9! After a year and a half of pulling hair and having everything thrown away and tested, our second daughter had a lead level if 7 soon after i started feeding her her sisters food pouches at 8 months. We stopped giving them and a month later Alanys is 3.8 and we are waiting for test results on Elsa. We used all sorts of different brands, but just the organic ones. I suspect it is the foil packaging. Please let others know. These need to be taken off the market.

  2. Amy Avatar
    Amy

    GoGo Squeez does have USDA Organic applesauce and organic fruit/veggie pouches and they are BPA Free. Just wanted to let you know.

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Yes! I recently noticed that they’ve gone organic:). Will update when we revise this Guide!

      1. Lien Phuong Avatar
        Lien Phuong

        I don’t see GoGo Squeeze in the revision. Thoughts?

  3. Irene Avatar
    Irene

    I’ve read a lot of your blog posts now about avoiding plastics #3, 6 and 7. I recently purchased a Vitamix thinking, “Yay, great way to get organic greens into my very picky toddler’s diet and wean him off those pouches!” However, while Vitamix claims the pitcher is BPA free, I recently looked inside the pitcher to see a #7 stamped inside. *Angry face*. So now what do I do? Ditch the Vitamix or don’t make green smoothies every other day? Stick with a glass low power blender?

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      I know, this is really annoying, isn’t it?! Some of us here at Gimme the Good Stuff do use a Vitamix. Just keep hot stuff out of it, and transfer it to glass quickly!

      1. Kary Avatar
        Kary

        I bought a stainless steel jar made by Waring that fits perfectly onto the Vitamix. We use it for any hot stuff we’re blending (soups or coffee drinks). We still use the Vitamix plastic one for cold smoothies though – it’s nice to be able to see how well things are blending and I think the Vitamix blades are better.

  4. Michelle Avatar
    Michelle

    My son loved the pouches, starting at around 9 months when he became interested in foods other than breastmilk, I think also because of the sucking factor, but they almost all contain either lemon juice or ascorbic acid as a preservative and we knew ascorbic acid was a reflux aggravator, but also lemon juice upset his stomach as well. I stopped giving him the pouches by 1year, because they seemed to be compounding his stomach/reflux issues which we had worked so hard to reduce. They are convenient, but like most snack foods, I don’t think they are particularly good to be eating on a regular basis, even if they are organic, etc. And fyi, 90% of the ascorbic acid that is produced is made in china and made by synthesizing it from sugar. Any pouches that contain ascorbic acid should be avoided, even if they are organic.

  5. kim Avatar
    kim

    A comment regarding your baby led weaning note – it is really great, even with the process being messy and slow. However, that being said, we still have a toddler who loves his pouches, the convenience is quite great, and sometimes it’s the ONLY way he will eat his vegetables.
    My only complaint with a lot of the pouches you mentioned in the ‘good stuff’ above is that few make vegetable-only flavored pouches. Aside from the starter ones, most of the blends always have fruit to sweeten it. While I’m not a Gerber person, their organic veggie pouches are often the only ones I can find with no added fruit! Any thoughts?
    PS… love, love, love your website!!

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Thanks, Kim! I’m sure the Gerber Organics ones are okay–this Guide is in need of an update, so when we do so, I’ll be sure look for veggie only brands. Thanks for your comment!

    2. mary Avatar
      mary

      I know you love your baby, but have you tried to live on a diet of these foods…….I mean really survive on them???

      they give me reflux……..more and a whole box of Magnum ice cream…..

      something is not right.

  6. Rachel Avatar
    Rachel

    We noticed that our local Walmart has a Parent’s Choice pouch for only 88 cents. Know much about these and if you’d recommend them? My 1 year old LOVES pouches and it comforts me to know he is getting some food down.

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Hi Rachel! I would not recommend this brand as it isn’t organic.
      Thanks for reading and writing!

      1. Sara Avatar
        Sara

        Parent’s Choice now has organic pouches.

        1. Katy Leute Avatar
          Katy Leute

          Yes! That’s why I was researching them too. It would amazing if there’s nothing sneaky in it because it’s so cheap!!

  7. LP Avatar
    LP

    Love your site!

    You may want to check out a company called Love Child Organics. As far as I can tell, they are the most “pure” of the baby food brands. Their starter purees have only one ingredient and don’t even include ascorbic acid or lemon juice. None of their snacks for babies under a year old have any added sugar or salt (they have great teething biscuits made with ancient grains).

    I think the brand is more widely available in Canada, but I have friends in the US who still find it no problem.

    Thanks again for all the great product advice!

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Thanks for the suggestion! I will definitely look into this brand when I update this Safe Product Guide!

    2. L'Orelle Avatar
      L’Orelle

      I follow a holistic nutritionist based in Canada, and she highly recommends this brand as well!