We believe that science can help us make better products to help get
babies off to a good start. That’s why everything we make is backed by
Nestlé’s rigorous nutrition research.
With 24 research technology centers worldwide, Nestlé has the largest
food research and development network of any food company. The Nestlé
Research Center, based near Lausanne, Switzerland, is the world’s
largest private facility for nutrition-related research. Fremont,
Michigan is home to the NDC Fremont (Nestlé Development Center) and is
the global center of excellence for all Nestlé baby food, meals, and
Nestlé’s Worldwide Research & Development network provides three
fundamental areas of benefits for parents: safety and quality; nutrition
and health; and taste, texture, and convenience.
How Research Benefits Your Children
Nestlé and Gerber have helped achieve many nutrition breakthroughs. In
2007, Nestlé introduced the first infant formula in the United States
with probiotics—beneficial B. Lactis cultures similar to the
type found in breastmilk—designed to help support baby’s healthy immune
system and digestive health. We also reformulated our meals & snacks
for toddlers by reducing trans fats, reducing the sodium content, and
using healthier fat sources.
Doctors and Taste Testers
For many years we’ve worked closely with pediatricians, pediatric
psychologists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists to develop
comprehensive knowledge of what’s developmentally appropriate for young
children to eat.
In 2003, along with our scientific and medical team, we established the
Gerber® Milestone Symbols™ system – our developmental feeding model. We
use our developmental milestones to ensure that our foods provide
developmentally appropriate nutrition, texture, size and shape, and
variety at each stage of your baby's development. As we learn more, we
continue to offer new foods, tastes and textures!
Does baby like it? We use tiny taste testers from our panel of 2,000
babies to let us know. Because no matter how nutritious our baby food
is, it needs to taste good! Carefully watching our little taste-testers
also helps us to understand how we can improve our products to be
appropriate for young children’s stages of eating development.
Research is a key part of our heritage and an essential element for our
future. We know there’s still lots to discover about the role of food in
our lives, and we continue to search for answers that deliver Nestlé’s
promise of Good Food, Good Life™.
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 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, 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.