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 easiest way to ensure safety 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.
Contents hide 1 Baby Puffs 2 Your toddler won’t eat? Help is here! 3 When can you give your baby puffs? 4 Are puffs good for babies? 5 Are puffs a choking hazard? 6 Best Baby Puffs to Buy 7 Best Puffs Made Without Rice 8 Rice-Based Baby Puffs 9 Healthy Natural Baby Puffs 10 Homemade Baby Puffs Recipe 11 How to Keep Puffs Fresh 12 Best Tips for Serving and Buying Puffs 13 Related Recipes
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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. Most baby puffs are very low in nutrients because they are often made with rice flour and 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 with a range of other foods. Read more about why you shouldn’t overdo it 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 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.
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 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.
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 are great flavor-wise and are a nice way to vary the ingredients in the puffs we buy.
Amara Yogurt Smoothie Melts
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)
PuffWorks Baby Puffs
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.)
Sprout Organic Plant Puffs
These have a base of sorghum, fruit juice, and powdered produce, which is a nice variation from rice-based puffs.
Serenity Kids Grain-Free Puffs
These puffs, come in both sweet and savory flavors (which I love!) and are another new option to consider. They’re made with healthy fats, produce, and other ingredients like cassava flour.
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 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.
Mission MightyMe Peanut Puffs
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, which we want to do to help lower the overall rates of food allergies. (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.
Happy Baby Superfood Puffs
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.
Plum Organic Puffs
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.
Gerber Graduates Puffs
With a sweet star shape, these puffs may be a little more available than the other organic brands—and are still made with whole grain goodness 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.
- Puffed Kamut
- Millet Puffs
- Puffed Corn
- Puffed Rice
- Puffed Wheat
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, 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.
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.
- Try not to rely on them at snack time too much since they are relatively low in nutrition. Pair with another easy baby snack to make sure baby has enough to eat.
- 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.