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 rite of passage for babies and toddlers of this generation. They are easy for little fingers to pick up once the pincer grasp is mastered, come in vibrant colors and 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 finger 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.
The American Academy of Pediatrics shares that the easiest way to minimize risk when feeding babies puffs (or any baby food) in regards to the heavy metals issue is to vary the grains and foods you offer over the course of a week. Try to avoid serving the same foods, or the same brands of foods, every single day.
To help you sort through the options on the market for baby puffs, know more about the ingredients, learn how they can be useful as a baby snack, and more, read on below.
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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—known as the “pincer grasp.” This usually happens around 8 or 9 months.
Are puffs good for babies?
The nutrition in baby puffs will vary from brand to brand, so you’ll need to read the labels. They usually have a mild yet pleasant flavor and are a fine food to serve in the mix with a range of other foods.
(Read more about why you shouldn’t overdo it on puffs or rice-based foods for babies.)
Are puffs a choking hazard?
Many parents worry about whether a baby can choke on baby puffs, but they are formulated 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 around any food that may get stuck in her mouth. You can also wait until baby is older if you are more comfortable going that route.
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 high chair 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, so be sure to check the labels. All of these dissolve easily and are designed for infants starting around 8/9 months unless otherwise noted. Remember to vary the types of puffs you buy and to try not to serve them every day or for every snack time.
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. They are 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, no artificial flavors or artificial sweeteners, plus 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)
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. 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.
These puffs, come in both sweet and savory flavors (which I love!) and are another new option to consider.
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.
Rice has more potential than other grains to be high in arsenic, 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 of course you can decide for yourself.
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. We love these as an easy way to continually expose babies and toddlers to peanuts. (Always talk to your pediatrician with concerns about food allergies.) Save 20% with my code YUMMY20.
They even have two varieties with fruit, including natural banana flavor and strawberry.
These melt-in-baby’s-mouth puffs are fortified with essential 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. Their airtight container helps to keep them fresh at room temperature after opening.
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, so you can look for flavors you prefer such as spinach, sweet potato, or even apple puree.
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.
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 including whole wheat, kamut, corn, and rice. They are a little crunchier, yet still dissolve fairly quickly. These are free from added sugars and cane sugar, and they are typically just the grain. You can soften them in plain nondairy milk, if desired, to ensure they are nice and soft for baby.
TIP: Look for these 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, 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.
My baby food storage containers may help for on-the-go snacking, too.
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 when self-feeding.
- 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.
- Don’t expect baby puffs to keep a baby full for that long—remember, they are puffed up with air!
- Look for gluten-free and dairy-free options as needed, though most of these do qualify for that.
I’d love to hear any questions you might have, so please comment below!
This post was first published February 2021.