Categories: Babies, Inside Nurture Life, Nutrition

Stage 3 Baby Food: What Makes Nurture Life Different?

Table, high chair, floor messes and all…your baby’s transition from purees to finger foods is an exciting time of discovery, wonder and fun. It’s also the time in which you’ll be laying the foundation for your baby’s earliest eating perspectives and many key developmental milestones. 

At Nurture Life, this is a responsibility that we take very seriously! Every meal on our Stage 3 baby food menu is made to help meet the developmental and nutritional needs of babies in this important period of transition—not only satisfying your little one’s curiosity and appetite today, but also putting them on the path to nutritious eating for a lifetime.

Below, you’ll find out exactly what makes our Stage 3 baby finger foods different and see how we compare to four store-bought baby food brands you might know. We don’t just want to be better than your standard baby finger foods—we work hard to be the best!

Three Differences of Our Stage 3 Baby Finger Foods

stage 3 baby food comparison

Nurture Life’s kid-focused chefs and pediatric registered dietitians work together to create delicious, nutritious and developmentally appropriate Stage 3 meals. Here’s what that means.

1. Ideal Size and Texture for Proper Development

For most babies, Stage 3 is the first stage of “real” foods. Instead of a mixed puree (think broccoli, pears and peas), Stage 3 is when babies start feeding themselves individual ingredients with their own hands.

Our Stage 3 baby meals are designed to encourage exploration and safe, confident self-feeding as your little one adapts to this newly independent mealtime routine. Our Stage 3 meals incorporate the best finger foods for babies, which are:

  • Soft and squishy for easy gumming and mashing without teeth
  • Large enough to practice grabbing and grasping with still-clumsy little fingers
  • Cube-shaped and small enough to lower any risk of choking
  • Varied in shape, size, color and texture so that your baby can get used to seeing, touching and having different foods in their mouth

We’ve chosen ingredients that older kids and adults enjoy, too—only we’ve made them friendlier (and safer) for babies at this stage of development. For instance, our ditalini is cooked beyond al dente and our butternut squash is steamed until very tender so that babies can easily gum and mush them in their mouths. We also prioritize wholesome, naturally great pick-up foods for new self-feeders, like beans and peas.

2. Balanced Nutrition for Your Baby’s Mind and Body

A lot of baby food, Stage 3 included, focuses heavily on fruit since it’s naturally soft and sweet. However, all babies are born with an innate preference for sweetness, so the more sweet foods they are offered, the less inclined they are to accept and enjoy savory tastes. An exclusive preference for sweets as a baby may translate into a less varied, less balanced diet into childhood and even adulthood.

Instead of relying on fruit like most baby food brands, we emphasize vegetables, protein and complex carbohydrates in our Stage 3 meals. In fact, only one of our Stage 3 meals has any fruit at all—and that’s only a light sprinkling of raisins in our Carrot, Raisin & Cinnamon Orange Butternut Squash! 

Fruit certainly has a spot at the table for toddlers and older kids, but during your baby’s critical stage of early development and palate building, it shouldn’t be the primary food group. That’s why we focus on more diverse foods that provide higher levels of sustenance and nutrition:

  • Meat (or plant-based proteins like tofu) to help your baby’s body develop and repair tissues
  • Vegetables with dietary fiber to aid with digestion and provide essential vitamins and minerals
  • Complex carbohydrates for energy and additional vitamins and minerals

Our Stage 3 baby foods are designed to be a healthy addition to your baby’s breast milk or formula routine that  helps them meet their  physical and cognitive developmental needs—not just a sweet snack to fill their tummies! In place of fruit, our meals get their hints of natural sweetness through baby-friendly veggies like peas or butternut squash.

3. Creative Flavors to Build a Varied Palate

Another important component of our Stage 3 meals? It’s our emphasis on out-of-the-box ingredients that you may not think of as baby food, such as tofu, black beans and salmon. To provide flavor variety and help combat common causes of picky eating, we expose babies to light herbs and spices like orange zest, dill, basil and oregano. 

Our Stage 3 baby food skips the excessive salt or sugar and instead features natural goodness with a strong veggie focus. We want to prepare our kids for real food that’s closer to what parents are enjoying than the typical “kids meal” guidelines of buttered noodles, chicken nuggets or pizza. As much as possible, we focus on highlighting healthy ingredients rather than hiding them—helping to expand your baby’s palate and show them real, wholesome foods that they can learn to see and identify as they grow up.

How Nurture Life’s Wholesome Baby Food Compares

Wondering how our Stage 3 meals stack up against some other finger foods for babies? Take a look at two direct comparisons below!

Nurture Life Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Pasta vs. Happy Family Sweet Potato, Mango & Carrots Pouch

Both of these Stage 3 baby meals feature sweet potatoes, but their approach differs in one major way: Nurture Life’s meal has soft and chunky cubes, while Happy Family’s meal is a smoothly pureed pouch.

Pouches are undoubtedly convenient, but they’re often “enriched” with fruit flavors to make them more palatable to babies—and they don’t do anything to help young eaters develop their pincer grasp or learn to differentiate foods. To make them shelf stable for long periods of time, pouches often require additional processing steps as well, such as high-heat cooking, which can denature the vitamins and minerals in the food.

Pureed pouches may be common on a typical 10-month-old baby food menu…but they’re never on Nurture Life’s! Our Stage 3 meals are cooked until soft and tender, but they’re never put through high-heat or high-pressure steps that could impact taste or nutritional quality.

Just like Happy Family’s grab-and-go pouch, our meal requires no prep at all. Just spill it out over your baby’s high chair tray and let the fun begin! It serves up roughly the same amount of fiber as the pouch, but with nearly 10 less grams of sugar, more than five times the protein and a variety of textures, flavors and shapes to help your baby learn to self-feed.

best baby meals

Nurture Life Pasta Fagioli vs. Gerber® Lil’ Meals Spaghetti Rings in Meat Sauce

Both of these Stage 3 meals are baby-friendly twists on classic Italian flavors, but our Pasta Fagioli focuses more on simple ingredients  with a strong veggie focus. Soft-cooked ditalini pasta, great northern beans and cubed carrots are tossed with our own house recipe tomato sauce (which has both tomatoes and butternut squash blended in!).  

Rather than a bowl of identical spaghetti rings, your little one will have many different colors, shapes and textures to explore with a Nurture Life meal. Your baby can choose individual ingredients to pick up, gum, mash and—yes!—throw all over the high chair and floor. Compared to the Gerber meal, our veggie-packed pasta also has twice the dietary fiber and less than half the sodium, allowing fiber-rich beans to be the star of the show.

best baby meals

At Nurture Life, we believe that it’s never too early to teach our kids how to identify and enjoy nourishing food. We aren’t the only baby food brand out there, but we are the only choice for Stage 3 baby food that is freshly made each week from real ingredients. We don’t freeze our meals, keep them for months and then send them to your home. We instead make all of our baby meals to order, focusing on veggie-forward, well-balanced nutrition with complex flavors and developmentally appropriate servings.

In a world of processed, pureed, sweet, single-color baby foods, our Stage 3 meals are truly the best choice to satisfy and nourish your growing little eater. They’re wholesome enough and simple enough that you could make them in your own kitchen—only you don’t have to!   

Explore our baby food delivery plans now, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions at

healthy baby meals


Rachael Janas

Rachael joined the Nurture Life team as the Marketing Production & QA Manager. From menu design to nutrient analysis, she covers all things food. Rachael is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a strong foundation in clinical nutrition and a keen interest in nutritious food with phenomenal flavor. Her passion for incorporating whole foods and creative cuisine while focusing on age-specific nutrient needs of children is essential to Nurture Life’s menu design. Rachael has been practicing dietetics since 2011, with the bulk of her experience in clinical nutrition at Loyola Medical Center, specializing in patients with cystic fibrosis as well as critical care nutrition related to lung disease and lung transplant. She also has experience in cardiac health and nutrition during pregnancy. Rachael received her B.S. from Saint Louis University in Missouri and completed a dietetic internship with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Rachael’s interests include creative cooking at home, using a variety of ingredients, spices and herbs for a unique meal each night. She truly believes nutrition and food should be enjoyable and that all food can be enjoyed in moderation.

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