My son is grown now, but the memory of the exhausting, sleepless nights after we brought him home from the hospital always stays fresh. Like many new parents, we were nervous about everything. Were our babies eating enough? Too much? Getting the right nutrients? How would we know if they were full?
At 3 a.m., I would find myself wishing there was someone I could ask every question running through my sleep-deprived brain. Now, new moms and dads do have someone who’s got the answers, night or day. Gerber offers a free 24/7 text hotline, known as Dotti after Dorothy Gerber who wrote letters to parents when they asked her for advice. The hotline gives them direct, immediate access to infant nutrition, lactation and sleep experts. Wondering about nap-time routines? Fretting over the transition to solid foods? Just ask Dotti.
While friends, mother- and father-in-laws, co-workers, siblings, aunts and uncles may all have great advice about child-raising — particularly when it comes to sleeping and eating in the early months of a child’s life — not everyone has the benefit of latest, science-backed information at their fingertips. Dotti does, and so does Gerber as a whole. The text hotline is just one of the many ways we use nutrition research to aid parents — and their kids. For starters, data and research help ensure we’re developing products and services that meet the unique nutritional needs of young children.
Just last week, we released the first set of data from our Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study, or FITS. The study surveys 3,200 parents and caregivers to find what infants, toddlers and preschoolers eat and drink on a given day. The data illuminates what we’re doing right and helps us identify ways we can improve our products to enhance childhood nutrition.
FITS research informs not only the nutrition in our products, but also the services and education we provide to parents. When previous FITS showed children consume roughly a quarter of their calories from snacks, Gerber offered parents suggestions and products that make it easier to slip more fruits and vegetables into snack time. And we offer a variety of iron-rich foods because FITS continues to show infants don’t consume enough of the vital, brain-development-boosting nutrient.
We also used FITS data to develop the menu planner that we offer. Parents enter their child’s age and food preferences into the planner, which then develops a weekly menu specifically designed to meet their child’s nutritional needs. Busy parents don’t have time to vet recipes and tally up how balanced each meal is on their own. We give them the information they need to feed their kids nutritious meals that enable them to thrive.
Gerber has a unique opportunity — and responsibility — to help put little ones on the path to a healthy life. Research shows children often establish life-long dietary patterns by age two. We all know that it’s easier to establish a good habit than it is to change a bad one. By eating well with their infants and toddlers every day, parents can support their kids’ health now and well into the future. I’m proud to say that by being there for parents as they help their young ones develop healthy eating habits, we’re helping millions of kids get off to a healthy start.