Gerber's history & heritage

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Highlights
  • Gerber and Nestlé both have long histories of supporting the health of infants and toddlers.
  • The Gerber Nutrition Journey is a commitment to early childhood nutrition, health and wellness.
  • Find out about the Nestlé Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS).

Nestlé and Gerber both have long, rich histories of supporting the nutrition, healthy growth and development of infants and toddlers.

In 1867, Henri Nestlé, a pharmacist, 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 her pediatrician in the summer of 1927, Dorothy Gerber started straining solid foods for her 7-month-old daughter Sally. After repeating this process many times, Mrs. Gerber suggested her husband try it. She watched Dan make several attempts, and then he pointed out that the work of straining fruits and vegetables could be easily done at their canning business, based in Fremont, Michigan. Workers in the plant began requesting samples for their own babies, and the legacy of GERBER® baby foods began. 

Gerber heritage: Committed to healthy babies from the beginning

This timeline shows our innovation in nutrition, safety, quality, and health, and illustrates our commitment to providing the best products for your child:


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1927
1927
One evening, Dorothy Gerber was straining peas for her 7-month-old daughter, Sally. This was an arduous daily task with a strainer. This led to developing the process at the family canning company. This inspiration led to the creation of Gerber Baby Foods in 1928.
1928
1928
Dan & Dorothy Gerber introduce Gerber baby food. Gerber is the first baby food sold in grocery stores & advertised nationally. Initial varieties included strained peas, carrots, spinach, prunes & vegetable soup. 
1928
1928
Gerber holds a contest to find a baby picture to use in its ads. One of the submissions was a sketch by artist Dorothy Hope Smith. Ann Turner, the adorable baby in the sketch, would become known as “the Gerber baby.”
1939
1939
Gerber introduces its first baby cereal. 
1951
1951
Gerber becomes the first baby food company to advertise on television.  
1963
1963
Gerber introduces the safety button cap—innovative tamper-evident packaging, & is one of the first companies to use the “Better if used before” date on their products. 
1986
1986
Gerber establishes a consumer help line to answer parents' questions about infant care & nutrition. Today it's the Parents Resource Center, available 24/7/365, offering a free consultation with a Registered Dietitian & International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.​
1990
1990

Gerber introduces Gerber® Graduates®.

1997
1997
Gerber introduces organic baby foods.
2003
2003
Gerber releases findings of its groundbreaking Feeding Infants & Toddlers Study, evaluating eating patterns & nutrient intakes of over 3,200 infants & toddlers. It unveiled many surprising statistics, like French fries being the most consumed vegetable by toddlers. Gerber used the findings to develop new & improved products.
2007
2007
Nestlé acquires Gerber, bringing together two of the world’s leading experts in early childhood nutrition to focus their leadership on one of America’s major challenges: filling the nutrition gaps & improving the eating habits of infants & young children

2008
2008
Nestlé FITS 2008 expands our knowledge of children’s diets in the age group 0 to 48 months.
2011
2011
GERBER® GOOD START® milk-based formulas become the first & only routine infant formulas to meet the criteria for an FDA-accepted qualified health claim.

2012
2012
Gerber introduces GERBER® GOOD START® Soothe infant formula designed for excessive crying & colic. 

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Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS)

Nestlé and Gerber are committed to improving infant and child nutrition through innovation backed by solid research. One of the most notable research efforts is the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS), an ongoing initiative for the past 15 years to better understand the state of young children's diets and related behaviors. Nearly 10,000 parents and caregivers have been surveyed in the U.S., with more than 40 peer-reviewed publications to date. 

FITS 2002 was the first undertaking of its size and revealed interesting facts about what infants and toddlers were really eating. Several key issues were brought to light —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 infants and toddlers weren’t eating a discrete portion of fruit or vegetable serving on a given day.

Follow-up FITS research was conducted in 2008 of 3,378 children, expanding the age range for infants and toddlers from birth to 48 months to also include preschoolers. Compared with 2002, the 2008 study showed that infants are being breastfed longer, and fewer children are consuming sweets and sweetened beverages. However, there’s still room for improvement in the diets of many infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Many of their diets contain too much saturated fat and sodium, and they need more fruit, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.

Many exciting things are on the horizon for the FITS. In 2017 the latest data on young children’s diet and related behaviors, including physical activity, sleep and feeding habits will be shared. FITS has also gone global – with studies underway in eight countries – and a commitment to expand to 10 countries by the end of 2016. Stay tuned as the FITS unveils new findings to better understand the nutritional needs of young children. Gerber will continue to leverage this very important research to develop products and services that support a healthy start to nourish a healthier generation, one baby at a time.


Gerber Nutrition Journey origins

As a result of the 2002 FITS study, Gerber developed a program to help children start and stay healthy. When Gerber joined the Nestlé family in 2007, the Gerber Nutrition Journey was created to take advantage of the combined research, knowledge and expertise of both companies. The system is an innovative approach that helps you choose the right nutrition for your child based on her stage of development. Only Gerber offers this unique stage-based system with specific products, feeding and nutrition guidance, tools and services to support healthy growth and development and encourage the development of healthy eating habits for children from birth to 4 years.

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