When my 1st son was a baby I spent, what felt like, half the day (a few times a week) preparing fresh, organic foods- washing, cutting, steaming, blending, portioning, and freezing. At the end of it all, my kitchen was destroyed. Knives, cutting boards, pots, pans, strainers, blenders, towels… all strewn about. I loved doing it for him, I enjoyed the meal planning part of it but I loathed the clean-up. I kept up as best I could and didn’t bat an eye when I fed him jarred food; I knew better than to be too hard on myself. I’m not a good cook (at all) but I found making baby food to be pretty easy. I have even learned some new things along the way like: steamed, cut apples taste really yummy with a sprinkle of cinnamon… on ice cream.
I continued to make and puree his foods until he was well into his toddlerhood and even though I enjoyed 90% of it, I was thrilled when he moved on to table foods. When my 2nd son started eating solid foods, I busted out the pots, pans, blender and baby cookbooks. After a few weeks, the novelty wore off and I wasn’t enjoying it at all. My 2nd son was quite a handful from very early on, not to mention I also had a 5-year-old to tend to. What? Kindergarten homework is hard. I got (if I was lucky) one afternoon, on a weekend, to make and prepare food. Needless to say, the second child ate out of a jar more often than not. It was about the time that I almost gave up on my baby food culinary skills when my mom bought me a present, the Beaba Babycook. I had heard wonderful things about it so I happily accepted the gift (instead of my initial thought of returning it).
After reading the box, it had me at “compact” and “countertop” and “quick” and “easy”.
A one-of-a-kind, patented compact countertop appliance that functions as a steamer, blender, warmer and defroster to prepare fresh, healthy meals for baby. Quickly steam cook vegetables, fruits and meats in 15 minutes or less, while preserving their vitamins and flavors. By saving the condensed water after steaming, you’re able to add valuable nutrients back into baby’s food. Puree and blend food to the desired consistency making it super smooth, chunky or anywhere in between for baby. Parents can also use the Babycook to quickly reheat or defrost precooked foods. Clean up is quick and easy with a top-rack dishwasher safe bowl and basket.
Bowl is made from unbreakable, Bisphenol-A free copolyester and the cooking basket from transparent polypropylene (PP). Comes with a 2½ – cup capacity bowl, cooking basket, spatula and recipe booklet. Bowl and basket are top-rack dishwasher safe.
Proud New Owner
Before using the Beaba Babycook for the first time, you must run the unit three times with the most water allowed- which totals 45 minutes before you can even use the thing. Don’t expect to pull it out of the box and have it ready to use.
Matching Foods to Measures of Water
For cooking fruits, vegetables, meats and grains, you simply refer to the recipe booklet or cooking guide which is included in the manual/user guide. Don’t loose that book (although you can download it online… not that I’ve ever had to do that). After matching the food to the cooking guide, measure the amount of water using the bowl.
The bowl has marks on the side- 1, 2 and 3 (for an example: carrots requires water at the 3 mark on the bowl).
With 3 measures of water, it takes approximately 15 minutes to cook. With 2 measures of water, it takes approximately 10 minutes. For 1 measure of water, it takes approximately 7 minutes.
After measuring the water, pour it into the heating reservoir (on the main part of the unit) and secure the reservoir lid. Don’t forget to add the water into the reservoir. Again, something I’ve never forgotten to do (ha, ha) … Luckily, nothing happened to my Babycook but I don’t intend to test that user error ever again. I love that I never have to guess how much water I need or how long to cook individual foods. Just that alone saves so much time.
Cooking, Steaming and Setting Timers
Secure the lid, lock the bowl onto the unit and flip the control to the cook/steam symbol. The light on the control switch goes off once the food is done cooking. I kind of wish it had some kind of alarm to go along with the light- I’ve been known to set the kitchen timer otherwise I get completely sidetracked and the food just sits there.
When the light turns off and the food is ready, remove the bowl from the unit, twist off the lid, lift the cooking basket with the spatula (for safety- you don’t want to burn your hands) the sides of the cooking basket are not easy to grip on to. If you want to pour away the excess liquids, you will need to have a place to put the cooking basket in order to do so. The instructions say to pour away the excess liquid (at the bottom of the bowl) or use it to blend the food; claiming you can control the consistency of the blended food.
I’ve never poured it all away. Very rarely have I been able to blend the food without some liquid in the bowl however, I have controlled the consistency with adding the excess liquid plus even more water- especially when the baby was younger. Adding cold water before or during the blending process also helps to cool the food faster if you plan to feed baby shortly after preparing the food. The key thing you have to remember is that the excess liquid that comes from the steaming process ends up in the bowl. It is ideal to use that liquid first as it adds in the nutrients from the foods you cooked. In order to accurately control the consistency, you have to first pour the liquid from the bowl into another container, like a measuring cup. After years of using the Beaba, I do this step automatically but, in the beginning, I did throw the food into the water-filled bowl and sometimes ended up with food that was far too watery. Just a heads up.
Blending and Feeding
After removing (and saving or discarding) the excess liquids, use the spatula to scoop the steamed contents from the cooking basket into the bowl. Adjust your consistency with adding water, cover the bowl with the mixing lid, secure the lid on the bowl and lock the whole thing onto unit.
To blend, you switch the knob to the right, towards the blending symbol until you reach your desired consistency. At any point in the blending process, you can add more liquids. The unit does not blend unless the lid is in the locked position so adding liquid while blending is not an option. But you can remove the lid without removing the bowl from the unit.
Use the spatula to scoop out the blended food into baby’s bowl (or ice cube trays for later use) then rinse everything that came in contact with food as soon as possible.
Washing and Cleaning
I’ve found that the pieces stay cleaner if rinsed, or soaked, directly after use. You can wash the pieces later (like after dinner) or place them in the top rack of your dishwasher. Never wash the base unit but the instructions recommend descaling the water reservoir every so often. I’ve had mine for 3 years and have only had to descale it once.
The Babycook comes with a spare gasket for the blender bowl. I have yet to replace the original one on mine.
Defrosting in the Babycook is easy. I freeze my baby food in ice cube trays and have been able to fit up to 4 (large) cubes in the Babycook. The instructions say to find a heat resistant container to place inside the steaming basket (inside the bowl) but I have always placed the frozen cubes directly in the cooking basket and it works just fine.
If you prepare more baby food than you need or make the food ahead of time, a good way to save it is to make baby food cubes. You can use a covered ice cube tray or any baby food freezer storage containers to freeze the food. I’ve only ever had a few baby food trays so once the food is frozen in cubes, I label a freezer bag with the date and contents and store the cubes that way. The Super Baby Food book has information on each fruit and vegetable and how long they will last in the freezer.
Before you start, you might want to plan out your cooking. Planning = the least amount of washing of the blender bowl and steamer basket. I try to do multiple foods in one sitting so I can stock up on a variety. For instance, cook all your veggies one after another, or toss in a few veggies that go well together (like my carrot, potato, zucchini combo pictured above) then, wash your bowl and get started on the fruits. Another great way to use this godsend of a contraption is to take what you have prepared for the rest of the family (perfect for dinner time), toss it in, steam and/or blend so baby is getting the same dinner, just a mushy version. Now that my youngest is 1, I do this more and more. In fact, the carrot, potato and zucchini medley were ingredients from a crock pot dinner I was making for the rest of the family.
The one and only con to using the Babycook vs pots, pans (and the whole nine) is the limited amount of food you can make in one sitting. The Babycook’s bowl only has a 2 1/2 cup capacity. But the easy transition from steam to blend, the multi-purpose spatula, the simplicity and super simple clean-up make up for it in the end.
There are also a few accessories sold separately for the Babycook that might make your baby food making experience even easier. There is a Babycook Bag for those die-hard moms who want to take the Babycook on the go. The Babycook Pasta/Rice-Cooker insert that easily steam cooks baby’s starchy foods (rice, pasta, grains). And finally, the Babycook Seasoning Ball that was designed for diffusing herbs and spices into baby’s food.