Nestlé and Gerber have long, rich histories of supporting the healthy growth and development of infants and toddlers.
In 1867 a pharmacist named Henri Nestlé was asked to look in on a neighbor’s child who couldn’t breastfeed. The baby thrived on the special mixture Henri created. Soon Nestlé’s innovation—the world’s first infant food—was being sold throughout Europe, and the first infant food company, Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé, was launched.
Gerber Products Company also began with attention to one baby. Following the advice of their pediatrician in the summer of 1927, Daniel and Dorothy Gerber started straining solid foods in their kitchen for their 7-month-old daughter Sally. Eventually, Daniel and Dorothy decided to strain fruits and vegetables at their canning business, based in Fremont, Michigan. Workers in the plant requested samples for their own babies, and the legacy of GERBER® baby foods began.
Committed to healthy babies from the beginning
Our company timeline shows our innovation in nutrition, safety, quality, and health, and illustrates our commitment to providing the best products for your child:
Introduces GERBER® strained vegetables; strained peas, prunes, carrots, spinach, and beef vegetable soup were ready for the national market.
Develops first baby cereal.
Develops the safety button cap—the first tamper-evident packaging of its kind.
Initiates the "use-by" dating system on baby food jars, ensuring parents and caregivers of the products' quality.
Establishes the consumer help line to answer parents' questions about baby care and nutrition.
Launches Start Healthy, Stay Healthy™ to educate consumers and health professionals about the importance of beginning good eating habits early.
Introduces GERBER® GRADUATES® LIL' ENTRÉES® selections.
Releases the initial findings of the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS), a groundbreaking study evaluating the eating patterns and nutrient intakes of 3,000 infants and toddlers. The study found many nutrition gaps in toddler's diets and Gerber used the study findings to develop new products designed to help fill these gaps.
The first-ever Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers are released and published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Continues to expand the GERBER® GRADUATES® line of products with Puffs finger foods. Launches FRUIT SPLASHERS® purified water and fruit juice blends beverage, with 40% less sugar than the leading 100% fruit juice.*
*FRUIT SPLASHERS beverage has 15 grams of sugar per 8-fluid-ounce serving compared with 28 grams of sugar per 8-fluid-ounce serving of 100% apple juice.
Expands the GERBER® GRADUATES® line to include YOGURT MELTS™ snacks, the first shelf-stable yogurt snack with live and active cultures. Introduces GERBER® GRADUATES® for Preschoolers, flavorful age-appropriate healthy meals and snack options specifically targeted to preschoolers. These were the first preschooler meal labels to be approved by the USDA.
Releases the findings from the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) 2008, a follow-up study from FITS 2002. FITS 2008 evaluated the eating patterns and nutrient intakes of 3,378 children—from newborns to 4-year-olds.
Getting Some Answers
Nestlé and Gerber have committed to improving baby and child nutrition through innovation, backed by solid research. One of the most notable efforts was the Gerber-sponsored Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) conducted in 2002. This dietary survey of approximately 3,000 infants and toddlers 4 to 24 months old—the first undertaking of its size—significantly increased the knowledge and understanding of how young children were really eating.
The results of the FITS study brought to light some key issues—notably that many toddlers failed to get adequate amounts of several important nutrients, including vitamin E, calcium, iron, potassium, and dietary fiber. In addition, it revealed that many toddlers weren’t eating a single fruit or vegetable serving on a given day.
Nestlé conducted a follow-up FITS study in 2008 of 3,378 children, expanding the age range for infants and toddlers from birth to 48 months. Compared with 2002, the 2008 study showed that infants are being breastfed longer and fewer children are consuming sweets and sweetened beverages on a given day. However, there’s still room for improvement in the diets of many toddlers and preschoolers. Many of their diets contain too much saturated fat and sodium, and need more fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats. Learn more about the results of the latest study.
Start Healthy, Stay Healthy™ Origins
With the research from the 2002 FITS study, Gerber developed a program to help children start and stay healthy. When Gerber joined the Nestlé family in 2007, the Start Healthy, Stay Healthy Nutrition System was created to take advantage of the combined research, knowledge, and expertise of both companies. The Start Healthy, Stay Healthy Nutrition System is an innovative approach which helps you choose the right nutrition for your child based on his stage of development. Only Gerber offers a unique stage-based system with products, and feeding and nutrition guidance to support healthy growth and development and encourage healthy eating for your child from birth to 4 years.