Are Gerber Puffs Safe & Healthy For Babies? Are They Toxic?

Gerber puffs

Need a healthy and nutritious snack for your little one? Wondering if Gerber puffs are the way to go? 

Gerber puffs for 8-12 month old babies are definitely a good option. They are bite-sized baked finger foods that encourage your baby to grasp items and feed themselves. This enhances hand and mouth coordination. 

Gerber Puffs don’t use any artificial preservatives and flavors. It is approved by the Non-GMO Project as well. Some Gerber baby foods have been accused of using high levels of heavy metals. But these are not deemed by experts to be very harmful. 

In any case, the levels are below regulations. And the products under the scanner do not include Gerber Puffs. For the time being, they are safe for your tiny tot to chomp on. There is nothing particularly toxic or harmful in them.  

Remember that they are only supplements, with regular food and breastmilk. They are not nutrient substitutes. 

What are Gerber puffs made of? 

These are the ingredients common across all the varieties of Gerber Puffs. 

  • Rice Flour

This is a gluten-free flour that makes the puffs soft and light. 

  • Whole Wheat Flour 

Wheat flour gives the puff firmness and structure. So the puffs can hold themselves up and not disintegrate. 

  • Wheat starch

This starch is derived from hydrated wheat flour. It is a thickener and binding agent.  It is also a fat substitute to help the puffs bake through, brown up and stay moist.  

  • Cane Sugar

Only natural cane sugar is used for sweetening. There are no artificial sweeteners. It is a less-processed, healthier version of table sugar. 

  • Whole grain oat flour

This wholesome flour stops the puffs from becoming too sticky and mushy before baking. 

  • Flavors 

These could be banana, cranberry, sweet potato, you name it. Juice concentrate and fruit purees are combined with acetic or citric acid for tartness.

  • Sunflower Lecithin 

This is a cold-pressed extract from sunflower seeds. It is an emulsifier that blends oil and water-based ingredients together. This makes the puffs fluffy and flaky. 

In addition to baking ingredients, vitamins are also added to Gerber Puffs. This makes them a nutritive and fortified food for infants. The supplements added include: 

  • B Vitamins 

Vitamins B1, B3, and B6 strengthen the nervous system. They help muscles function optimally. 

  • Vitamin E or Tocopherol Acetate

Vitamin E supports the immune system, keeping illnesses at bay. This antioxidant reduces damage to tissues. Tocopherols are a type of Vitamin E that promotes healing. They are also preservatives that prevent the Gerber Puffs from going stale.  

  • Choline Bitartrate

This compound has similar functions to B Vitamins. It promotes healthy brain function and improves memory. 

  • Iron

Iron develops healthy red blood cells and prevents anemia. 

  • Zinc

Some Gerber Puff varieties have added zinc. It contributes to growth, digestion, and metabolic functions.

What do Gerber puffs taste like? 

Gerber Puffs are available in different flavors. They have the texture of cereal, like Cheerios. So it is like a crunchy, grainy breakfast cereal with fruit and vegetable flavors. Fruit flavors include banana, apple, peach, and blueberry, amongst others. 

They have a very delicate taste similar to baby formula. So it is not too overpowering, even though they smell strong. Gerber Puffs are a great way to get in some carbs and nutrients with minimal fuss. 

Right age to give Gerber puffs? 

You should only give your baby Gerber puffs once they are 8 months or older. This is the age to start solid foods. Usually, until 6 months, babies can only eat mashed or liquid foods. Some babies may start to self-feed earlier. In this case, introduce the puffs slowly. 

Once they start to pick them up, you can start off with small quantities. It can be used for babies whose teething is delayed as well. 

Do Gerber Puffs have gluten? 

Yes, Gerber Puffs do contain gluten from wheat, rice, barley, and oats. You may be worried about whether your baby is allergic to gluten. You must start introducing solid foods containing gluten. This will help you check for reactions. 

If the gluten causes rashes, constipation or vomiting consult your doctor. Gerber clearly labels all gluten-based ingredients. Gerber also cautions consumers about contamination from common machines. So the puffs without wheat may also contain a smidgeon of gluten.  

Do Gerber Puffs have fiber?

Yes, but only minimal amounts. Gerber Puffs are made of whole grains like rice and wheat. These have more fiber than processed grains. There are about 2 grams of whole grains in each serving. But this is mainly carbohydrates. 

The dietary fiber is either zero or 0.39 grams which are negligible. This depends on what fruit or vegetable is used. Dietary fiber is roughage that the digestive system cannot break down.  But it keeps the gut functioning well and regulates blood sugar. 

*For the following three sections, readers should note: The presence of harmful compounds has only been flagged in some Gerber ingredients. The Puffs are not mentioned specifically. They may contain these levels or less. Gerber doesn’t test the final products, only the ingredients. So there is no clarity if the same levels in baby foods are found in Puffs too. 

Do Gerber Puffs have arsenic? 

Yes, Gerber Puffs do contain arsenic in the rice flour. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only regulates arsenic levels in cereal. Baby food is not subject to the same limit. The rice flour used in the products has about 90 ppb (parts per billion) of arsenic. 

This is lower than the FDA limit for cereal, which is 100 ppb. Any arsenic is naturally in the ingredients. It is not artificially added. Gerber puffs may also contain other ingredients like grape juice concentrate which has additional arsenic. 

Only very high quantities of arsenic can cause lower IQ, stunted brain development, or cancer.  Moderating consumption should ensure your baby’s safety.  

Does Gerber Puffs contain lead? 

Yes, Gerber Puffs do contain lead. The average lead content in the puffs could be anywhere between 20-48 ppb per serving, at the very least. This depends on the ingredients used. The Puffs with sweet potato or juices have more lead.  

Experts emphasize that there are more dangerous sources of lead. Parents should be more concerned about water, paint, and candies. Lead exposure at even low levels for prolonged periods may cause ADHD, mental abnormalities, and behavioral issues. 

Do Gerber Puffs have heavy metals? 

Yes, they do contain heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium. Gerber Puffs may contain cadmium from the carrots it uses. They may also contain mercury. But tests are rarely done, so we can’t be sure. 

The concentration of heavy metals in such snacks is minimal. It is a fraction of exposure from other food and non-food sources. The American Pediatric Association (APA) doesn’t think the heavy metals concentration in baby food poses a serious health hazard. 

Do Gerber Puffs have dairy? 

No, Gerber Puffs do not contain milk or dairy as primary ingredients. No dairy products are intentionally added. But other ingredients may contain milk proteins. Purees or flavors may contain traces of dairy. The Graduate Puffs may contain milk. 

Other Gerber products like Yogurt Melts or cookies contain milk. Processing in the same factory could lead to cross-contamination. So if your baby has Milk-Soy-Protein Intolerance (MSPI) or lactose intolerance, it is best to use it with care. 

Do Gerber Puffs contain eggs? 

No, Gerber Puffs do not contain eggs. Eggs are one of the main allergens, like peanuts and shellfish. They are only added to a few Gerber snacks like Whipped Melts. Other Gerber baby foods like custard pudding contain eggs. 

The same factory equipment is used for processing and packaging. So there may be some egg protein contamination. Cross-contamination is possible because some Gerber foods have egg whites or yolks. Both parts of the egg may cause inflammation and congestion.  

Do Gerber Puffs cause constipation or diarrhea? 

They can cause constipation because puffs are high in starch and carbohydrates. The fiber content is low. But this could also be because the baby has started solid foods. The hard stool is common during this period from 8-12 months. 

Grains like rice and wheat can make passing stool difficult and painful. Other ingredients like apple puree, bananas, and juice concentrate may also worsen the condition. On the other hand, diarrhea is not very common.

It is mostly triggered by hypersensitivity to some ingredients. Some babies may experience loose motions if they are allergic to ingredients like peanuts or oats. They may not be able to digest some ingredients well. 

Diarrhea may be accompanied by hives and breathing difficulty. FPIES (Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome), celiac disease, or gluten intolerance could also cause the runs. 

Are Gerber Puffs a choking hazard? 

No, Gerber Puffs pose a low risk as a choking hazard. They are designed to melt in the mouth. The puffs will dissolve before they can get stuck in the throat. Don’t worry if they stick onto the gums and don’t melt immediately.

Keep a bottle of water handy to help the puffs disintegrate. Make sure your baby is sitting upright when eating. Choking is a danger only if the baby stuffs too many pieces in its mouth. It might clump and cause gagging.

Don’t leave the puffs out of the box for long. They will become hard and won’t melt as quickly. 

Are Gerber Puffs vegan? 

Gerber puffs are vegan-friendly. Apart from Graduate Puffs, none of the Gerber puffs contain dairy or eggs. They don’t use animal products or by-products. Some of the puffs are also certified organic by the USDA.

But other Gerber products contain meat, poultry, and other animal derivatives. Strict vegans may not accept the puffs because they are made in the same factory. So the puffs are either vegan-friendly or vegetarian depending on how rigid your standards are.

The Gerber Puffs probe is complete. Will Gerber Puffs be a staple snack for your munchkin from now on?


Anand Srinivasan
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