Learn which baby puffs are best for your baby and toddler, when you can introduce them, what to look for at the store, and how to buy puffs for babies with the most nutrition possible.
Puffs, and the pixie dust-like debris that they leave behind, seem to be a right of passage for babies and toddlers of this generation. They are easy for little fingers to pick up once the pincer grasp is mastered, they come in vibrant colors, fun shapes, and are a super easy snack to take on the go. Plus, they dissolve easily in baby’s mouth, making them a good early food with a low risk for choking.
There are some factors to consider when choosing them though—specifically the main ingredient with which they are made. Many of these classic baby puffs are made with rice, and some government testing has shown concerning levels of arsenic and other heavy metals. Read more about the specifics of this issue, with a helpful breakdown of the science and context for the data about in this Parent Data newsletter from Emily Oster.
TIP: The easiest way to ensure safety when feeding babies puffs (or any baby food) is to vary the grains you offer and to avoid serving the same foods every single day.
When can you give your baby puffs?
Puffs baby food fill the aisles at most grocery stores and you can plan to pick up a container once baby can pick up smaller foods with their fingers—or their “pincer grasp”. This usually happens around 8 or 9 months.
Are puffs good for babies?
The nutrition info in baby puffs will vary from brand to brand, so you’ll need to read the labels. Most baby specific puffs are very low in nutrients because they are puffed and therefore full of air. They usually have a mild, yet pleasant flavor, and are a fine food to serve in the mix of a healthy diet. (Read more about why you shouldn’t overly rely on puffs or rice-based foods for babies here.)
Are puffs a choking hazard?
Many parents worry about whether a baby can choke on baby puffs, but they are formatted to dissolve quickly in baby’s mouth so the risk for choking is low. As with any food that you offer, keep a drink nearby and help baby to take sips. The liquid will help her move any food that may get stuck in her mouth around efficiently.
TIP: If your baby or toddler tends to push a lot of puffs (or any other food) into her mouth at once, be sure to limit how much you hand over and refill her highchair tray or bowl as needed.
Best Baby Puffs to Buy
Here are an assortment of my go-to puffs for baby. There is a range as far as ingredients and flavors go, so be sure to check the labels. All of these dissolve easily. Remember to vary the types of puffs you buy and to try not to serve them every day or for every snack time. Variety is the best way to ensure baby has access to a range of nutrients.
Best Puffs Made Without Rice
These are some awesome options for baby snacks that dissolve quickly, but aren’t made with a base of rice (which has the highest levels of potentially problematic heavy metals.) They’re great flavor-wise and are a nice way to vary the ingredients in the puffs we buy.
A newer option to hit the market, these melts are made with organic fruits and vegetables, pl
us coconut milk for a melt-in-baby’s-mouth texture. They have fresh flavor and come in a resealable bag. These are great as a non-grain option too. (Sponsored link)
With a sweet star shape, these peanut puffs are designed for babies who can pick up small pieces with their fingers and have a nice peanut flavor.
I love these puffs since they can actually be given a little earlier to BLW-fed babies since the pieces are big enough for little hands to pick up and hold safely. The flavor is really great too. (It’s important to introduce potential allergens like peanuts when baby starts solids and these are an easy way to do it.)
These have a base of sorghum, fruit juice, and powdered produce, which is a nice variation from rice-based puffs.
TIP: Find my Master List of Baby Snacks here for more easy foods to feed babies.
Rice-Based Baby Puffs
These are all widely available at most supermarkets and big box stores and are an easy snack for babies—but only as an occasional snack. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that we aim to serve a variety of foods to mix up the nutrients, flavors, and textures, and to avoid exposure to large amounts of heavy metals that can be present in baby food. (They can actually be present in all food, since they are present in the soil much of our food is grown in, but they are more of a potential issue for babies since their bodies are smaller and they are in a more rapid period of brain development).
(Rice has more potential to be high in arsenic than other grains, which is why I’ve broken these into their own section. Read more about the actual risks here in Parent Data. Emily’s breakdown confirms my belief that these are fine in the mix as an occasional snack during this short window of early finger foods, but you of course can decide for yourself.)
These melt-in-baby’s-mouth puffs are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals to help make sure babies get the nutrition they need. They’re organic and come in 7 flavors including Apple & Broccoli, Banana & Pumpkin, and Strawberry & Beet.
This is another of the top brands of baby puffs that you’ll see in natural and big box stores. We love the simple ingredients and the range of flavors. And that they have both a fruit and a veggie in the mix.
With a sweet star shape, these puffs may be a little more available than the other organic brands—and are still made with whole grains and without artificial ingredients. We like the blueberry flavor. Gerber also makes an organic version.
These have a base of rice, but also have fruit and very small amounts of potential allergens—peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, egg, sesame, and more—making it a great way to ensure baby is being exposed to a range of foods from the start.
TIP: Find more easy Finger Foods for Babies here.
Healthy Natural Baby Puffs
In addition to the puffs that are made specifically for babies, I also love puffed whole grain cereal as a nutritious option made from a variety of grains. They are a little crunchier, yet still dissolve fairly quickly. You can soften them in nondairy, plain milk if desired to ensure they are nice and soft for baby.
TIP: Look for these healthy puffs in the cereal aisle of your supermarket or big box store.
Homemade Baby Puffs Recipe
If you want to try making baby puffs at home, this recipe for Kale Apple Puffs from my friend Barbara looks like a great place to start. You can also try my homemade Yogurt Melts.
How to Keep Puffs Fresh
Depending on how quickly you go through a container of puffs, you may want to transfer them to a tighter reusable storage container. They seem to get stale (and soft) fairly fast, especially when the weather is humid, so put them into a mason jar with a tight top or another container that seals well. Many of the containers they come in don’t have airtight seals.
Best Tips for Serving and Buying Puffs
- Serve a small amount at at time if baby is putting too many into her mouth at once.
- Change up the flavors you buy to expose baby to a range of nutrients and flavors.
- Change up the brands you buy to avoid baby getting too hooked on only one kind—or too much potential exposure to heavy metals in rice-based products.
- Consider puffs made with other grains besides rice, or try Yogurt Melts or Smoothie Melts.
- Try not to rely on them at snack time too exclusively since they are relatively low in nutrition.
- Don’t expect baby puffs to keep a baby full for that long—remember, they are puffed up with air!
I’d love to hear any questions you might have, so please comment below!