What Is The Gerber Baby Contest?
Who is Gerber?
Gerber Products are a company that has supplied baby food and baby products to families around the world since 1927 – they’ve been doing so for over 90 years! Founded in Michigan by Daniel Frank Gerber, the company first began by producing canned fruits and vegetables. Luckily for Daniel, his wife, Dorothy, was a paediatrician who made the wise suggestion to make hand-strained food for the baby daughter. Gerber was quickly able to recognize the business opportunity and began to produce baby food. His business grew quickly, and by 1928, baby food made by Gerber was available across the entire country. It’s amazing to think that if Daniel and Dorothy hadn’t had their daughter Sally, Gerber as we know it may never have come into existence.
As of 2017, Gerber sells over 190 products in 80 countries and 16 different languages. Babies all over the world enjoy the nourishing and familiar taste of Gerber baby food. Odds are, most of us have eaten Gerber baby food when we were babies ourselves, along with our parents and grandparents!
The Gerber Baby Contest?
For the past eight years, Gerber have launched an annual Photo Search, inviting parents across the country to submit photos of their own baby to win a huge price - $50,000 in cash, $1,5000 from Gerber Childrenswear and the chance for their baby to be the big star in an advertisement for Gerber.
The good news is there are also six follow-up places, with prizes of $3,500 in cash and $750 in Gerber Childrenswear to be won throughout the Gerber’s Milestone categories - Birth+, Supported Sitter, Sitter, Crawler, Toddler and Preschooler.
Historical Gerber Baby Winners 2016-2017
The winner of the 2016 Gerber Baby contest was Riley Shines, a beautiful little 7-month-old boy who stole the hearts of the judges on the panel with his gummy smile. His parents, Kristen and Devin, believed winning the competition was a long shot. Husband Devin laughed at mother Kristen for entering in the first place. Kristen says, ‘Originally, my husband laughed at me for entering the contest because there were so many submissions! Now, we have the opportunity to start a college fund for our beautiful baby boy.’
When Riley’s win was announced, the manager of promotions marketing for Gerber, Robyn Fitter, stated ‘This year, the judges loved Riley’s expression and how well he captured their attention through a simple photograph. We are all thrilled to name Riley as our 2017 Spokesbaby!’
So Many Applications
There were over 110,000 applicants for the 1016 Gerber Baby Contest, so Riley’s win was monumental. He has gone on to star on the Gerber social media accounts across the year that has followed, with millions of Americans now familiar with the cute kid’s little face.
Along with Riley’s spot in first place, the Milestone category winning entries were…
Birth+ - Leo from Rockville, MD
Supported Sitter - Chase from Southport, CT
Sitter - Willow from Wichita, KS
Crawler - Bryce from Mount Holly, NJ
Toddler - Camden from New York, NY
Preschooler - Alanys from Humacao, Puerto Rico
How Does the Gerber Baby Contest Work?
Each year, Gerber announces the annual baby contest during the fall season, which is followed by an open period that allows for photo submissions of babies from all across America. This is followed by a voting period, where friends, family members and total strangers are able to vote on whom they believe should be the baby face of Gerber for the coming calendar year. Parents then must wait patiently until January, when Gerber announces the Gerber baby contest winners, as well as the grand prizewinner, who then has the honor of being crowned as Gerber’s spokes baby for the year to follow.
There are many names the Gerber Baby Contest is referred to as, so it’s important to know they’re all talking about the same competition, to keep from getting confused! The Gerber Baby Contest 2015, Gerber’s Spokesbaby 2016 and Gerber Baby 2016 are all referring to the same contest and same grand prizewinner.
Historically, the search was called the ‘Be Our Baby Photo Search’, with a name change following the 2014 competition.
The Gerber Baby Contest 2017 will be announced during the fall of 2017, with the winner to be announced in January 2018. This winner will be crowned the ‘Gerber’s Spokesbaby 2018’. Although the years may get confusing, the timing is quite simple once you’ve understood how the competition works and its key stages.
What Are The Gerber Baby Contest Rules?
The rules for the Gerber Baby Contest are relatively simple. Participation is limited to legal U.S. residents, or those who reside in the District of Colombia and Puerto Rico. You also need to be at minimum 18 years of age and the legal guardian or parent of the child in the photo you submit (this is not an opportunity to ‘borrow’ a photo of your neighbor’s cute baby!). The rules are flexible when it comes to the baby’s age - they need to be at least 1 day old and no older than 48 months at the time the photo is submitted.
There are strict requirements about the photo that is to be uploaded. These include...
No professional photographers - photos that are submitted cannot be taken by a paid photographer.
No photo collages - you are not able to combine 2 or more photos into one image, it must be a single photo.
The photo cannot be uploaded anywhere else - you must retain sole copyright ownership of the picture, so even social media is out when it comes to where else your photo can be uploaded.
The photo must be taken with 30 days prior to submission - no, you cannot submit a photo of your baby a year ago. The photo must be recent and must fall within this 30 days previous window to be considered.
The good news about entering the contest - it's free! There are no entry fees for entering the Gerber Baby Contest so there’s nothing to stop you from submitting the cutest photo of your baby you can find, crossing your fingers and hoping their cute little smile will sway the judges in their favour.
How Does Voting Work?
Even though the choice of the grand prizewinner does not come about through cast votes, you are able to vote for the milestone winners. If your baby is entered into the Gerber Baby Contest, you can encourage your friends and family to vote for their photo in order to increase your chance on placing within these milestone winners. There’s always the chance that the judges will choose your baby for the grand prize, but hey, who not increase your options as much as possible?
When Was the Gerber Baby Contest Born?
The original Gerber Baby that appeared on the packaging for Gerber Baby Foods was a pencil sketch that was found through the original contest that took place in 1928, meaning the Gerber Baby is now almost 90 years old! The contest was conducted in the summer of 1928, when the owners of the Gerber Company decided they wanted a baby face that could represent their new baby food. Many entries were submitted, from simple sketches to elaborate oil paintings of babies.
Dorothy Hope Smith, who lived in Westport, Connecticut, was an artist whose specialty was drawings of children. She drew a sketch of her neighbor’s baby, Ann Turner Cook, who was two years old at the time. She submitted a simple charcoal sketch that, in her perspective, was unfinished. She told the judging panel that if she were to win, she would continue to work on the drawing in order to finish it professionally.
Much to Dorothy’s surprise, her drawing did win - but the judges asked for no changes to be made! They loved the simple charcoal sketch and it was this drawing that went on to become the internationally recognizable Gerber Baby.
Since then, the Gerber Baby has appeared on all Gerber packaging and in every single Gerber advertisement.
Tips for How to Increase Your Chances of Winning
There are many ways you can increase your likelihood of winning the Gerber Baby Contest.
First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between a baby photography contest and a baby photo contest, of which the Gerber Baby Contest falls under the latter category. Baby photography generally refers to professional photographers who, more often than not, will be taking glamour shots of babies, layered with props, fancy outfits and cute settings. If you begin to search the internet for tips on baby photography, you’ll be bombarded with notes about which camera to use, how to light the photo, which backdrops to use, how you can incorporate props, and how to force your baby to cooperate.
However, this isn’t quite the style of photo the Gerber Baby Contest is really looking for. If you take a look at the photos of winners from previous years, their photos are more natural, capturing babies in their natural environments and in a spontaneous moment that truly reflects some of their personality and what it is that makes that particular baby unique.
The Gerber Baby Contest is looking for photos from everyday moms and dads, from regular families who are living their lives day to day. Photos that are authentic, honest and true will have more of a chance of resonating with the judging panel who make up the Grand Prize selection team, as well as your friends, family and the surrounding community who will be able to vote within the runner up sections. In fact, it’s even one of the entry rules - if you look at Gerber’s guidelines, it clearly states ‘Participant acknowledges and agrees that professional photographs are not eligible.’
So, when you begin to think about the photo you may submit for the next Gerber Baby Contest, leave the fancy props and complicated lighting to the professionals. Your job is to get a great photo of your baby in his or her natural state - smiling at their parent! This is something only moms or dads can really do, which is what makes the Gerber Baby Contest even more special for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who enter year after year.
Actually Submit a Photo!
Yes, it may sound silly, but too many people get excited about contests, only to fail in following through with an entry. Make a deal with yourself now! That when it comes to the cut-off date for entries, your baby’s photo will absolutely be sitting in the pile of photos that the judges need to make their way through. This is the first step to potential victory! In the words of Nike...Just do it!
Go for Natural Shots
Is there something that your baby particularly loves to do, or an area where they love to be? Find somewhere where your baby is happy, laughing and enjoying themselves, and use this as the space to take your baby’s photo. You want to create an environment through the photo of warmth, fun and joy, so actually spend some time enjoying being with your baby before you pull the camera out. If you’re able to capture their natural and authentic smile and laughter, you’ll be well on your way to a great photo that has the most chance of catching the judge’s eye.
One way you can increase your chances is by practicing with your camera for a while before gearing up to take your entry shot. Being familiar with how your camera responds to different lighting, focal lengths, and environments will help you to maximize the quality of the final photo you walk away from.
There’s nothing worse than a photo that’s blurry, too dark, or where everything is in stark focus so there’s no nice natural blur to the background. Experiment with your camera and its various settings until you’re comfortable that you know how to take a great portrait. The bonus here is that if you happen to be practicing by taking photos of your baby, you may just end up taking that winning shot without even meaning to!
The other plus is you’ll have a bunch of beautiful new photos of your baby from that specific stage of their life. We think these moments will last forever, but all too soon, the babies are bigger, talking, crawling, walking, heading off to preschool… you want to make sure you’ve captured as many precious moments of their lives as you can, and making yourself comfortable and familiar with the camera you have at home is a great way of ensuring you’re able to capture lots of life moments as the years continue.
Perhaps you may not win the Gerber Baby Contest, but you’ll still be able to tell your child you thought they were the cutest baby in the nation, and you have the proof from entering them into the contest!
Lighting is the biggest element that can make or break your photo. Make sure there aren’t lights on behind your baby, as this will darken your baby and sometimes even make them unrecognizable. Light should be coming from the front, shining onto your baby, rather than from behind, which is just going to turn them into a big shadow. The same goes for the sun - position your baby so the light is hitting the front of them, rather than having glaring sunshine silhouetting them from the back!
Natural light is also going to give you a much better end result than artificial light. Don’t fall for the trap of thinking you need studio lighting or any kind of professional lighting - this isn’t necessary.
The best way to hunt down natural light is to walk through your home in the morning and notice where the sun is falling. Rooms that are the lightest and have the most ‘glow’ about them will give you a nice amount of diffused natural light (instead of harsh rays that could cause problems or unevenness in your photos). Do you have a room with big windows that lets the room be flooded with sunlight? This could be the perfect place to take your photo with the sun’s natural sunshine as your assistant.
You may also want to consider taking your photo outside. If you do so, make sure the light is not too harsh on your baby, so pick a time of day where the light is the most diffused and creating an even layer across the environment, rather than trying to get your poor baby to smile while it’s being hit directly in the face with sun beams!
The best tip you can follow is to practice, practice, practice. Practicing will let you get familiar with your own camera, with the tools at your disposal and with the simple ways you can adjust your photo taking style in order to capture the best results. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to practice taking photos before you decide ‘today is the day to get that winning shot!’. Don’t leave it to the day before entries closed, or you’ll be stressed rather than relaxed, which will in turn impact on the quality of your results.
Another Great Idea....
is to have an ‘assistant’ with you. If your partner or a family member the baby loves and trusts is available, ask them to come along and enlist their services in getting your baby giggling and ensuring he or she is happy and relaxed. If they’re focused on looking after the baby, you can focus on the camera, and on being able to respond with the camera to what your baby does so you have the most chances of snapping that perfect shot.
As well, you’d be crazy not to take a look at the previous winners of the Gerber Baby Contest before taking your shots. There are plenty of clues in the winning images as to what will capture the judge’s attention the most. The past six winning photos have all been very natural shots, with babies who look right at home, and who are happy, relaxed and engaged with the photographer. Most of them are also quite close in as a portrait with the baby filling most of the frame, so don’t take your shots from too far away and let your baby take up most of the space that’s available.
What is it about your baby that makes them so unique? Is it their giggle, their smile, or their wide eyes when they discover something new? Forget about fancy lights, backdrops, or sets - your job as the Gerber Baby Contest family photographer is to try and capture this uniqueness and let it be celebrated in the photo.
Why Does Gerber Run the Baby Contest?
Gerber has built its brand on a foundation of promoting and supporting nutrition for growing families across the globe and is a very family-friendly corporate brand. They believe their products are a great help when it comes to providing growing babies with necessary everyday nutrition and making sure babies are happy, healthy, and growing well.
Gerber’s baby food has fed generations of people throughout America and the globe, and it’s interesting to think that all of these people benefitted from the availability of Gerber baby products, all thanks to one mother’s original need to feed her baby food that was healthy, nutritious, and would allow her to take some of the stress out of her everyday life when it came to how difficult it was to prepare it.
What Could Winning the Gerber Baby Contest do for Your family
The grand prize of the Gerber Baby Contest is big enough that it could change the lives of many families. The 2016 winner’s parents declared they would take the $50,000 prize money and put it away into a college fund for the winning baby to use once he was old enough to go to college. For many children, college is a huge expense, but also a vital part of receiving a great education that allows them to pursue their intended career. By taking this money and setting it aside in an interest-earning account, your baby could find themselves entering college with a great head start, all thanks to a cute baby photo taken of them many years ago!
However, putting the money away for college isn’t the only thing this prize money could be used for. Other parents online have written about how winning this money could allow them to buy a new house, pay off debts, take a family holiday, or change their standard of living.
For many Americans, everyday life is expensive, and raising kids only adds to that expense. By choosing to use the $50,000 grand prize money in a more immediate way, there could be many benefits to the winning family, who will have a huge opportunity to do something that they normally could not afford.
It’s lovely to think of the Gerber Baby Contest winners from years past who are now growing healthily and happily. The years will flash by, and they’ll receive a happy surprise once they’re old enough to understand what their cute smiles achieved when they were kids.
Gerber babies have become synonymous with ‘cute kids’ across the nation of America. It’s quite a compliment to be told ‘your child should be the Gerber baby’! If you’re wise, you could actually have a chance at winning the Gerber Baby Contest four times over by beginning when your child is a newborn and taking a photo each year until they turn 4. It may not seem like a lot when there are over 100,000 other families entering photos of their cute kids, but hey, it’s worth a try!
As well, there’s the added benefit for those parents whose kids do not go on to win the grand prize or place in he supporting categories - they’ll be left with many photos of their child from a sweet and fleeting age that they will be able to revisit once they’re older.
Plus, parents are often looking for excuses just to hang out with their cute kids, right? Picking up a camera and spending an afternoon making your baby giggle in the sunshine sounds like a pretty idyllic day, even without the added benefit of potentially winning the largest baby photo contest in America.
Diversity is also celebrated by the Gerber Baby Contest - over the past few years, a mixture of boys and girls, as well as varied ethnicities, have won the competition. This is a beautiful way to highlight the many different kinds of everyday families living their lives throughout America who all want the same thing for their growing children - happiness, peace, safety and opportunities throughout their lives as they continue to get older.
So, to recap, if you’re considering entering the Gerber Baby Contest, here are some things to remember…
Your baby must be between 0-4 years of age. If their fifth birthday is fast approaching, you should keep a close eye on when the contest is announced so you will know whether or not your child’s photo is eligible.
You must take the photo yourself - you are not allowed to enter photos taken by a professional photographer. This is a competition celebrating everyday babies, mums and dads. Perfectly posed photos in a professional studio isn’t quite the look Gerber is going for!
Your photo must be taken within the last 30 days before you enter - in this particular instance; you’re not able to use photos you have taken that are older than 30 days. If you need to take some fresh photos, grab your baby, get familiar with your camera, and start snapping!
Embrace what it is that makes your baby unique - take a look at the winning entries over the past few years. All of them show babies who are obviously comfortable, relaxed, and who trust the face behind the camera. Don’t try and make your baby do something that does not feel natural, such as forcing them into a fancy outfit. Go with what feels best and turn the photo taking session into a fun time that celebrates the bond between you and your child.
There’s more to the competition than just the grand prize - although the grand prize is the big one, there are also the category entries where your baby could place as a runner up. This is determined by public voting, so this is where you can rally your friends and family and flood social media with requests to vote. If your baby truly is as cute as you think they are, their photo and the option to vote them in should be a very compelling request!
If your baby wins, they’ll be the official Gerber Spokes baby for the year that follows. Not only will they walk away with the grand prize, but also their life will be recorded across the Gerber social media platforms for the year to come. This is important to consider as one side effect may be that your baby is noticed - as their parent, you need to make sure you’re comfortable with that kind of attention. However, the good thing about babies is they grow so fast, they probably won’t be recognized in public for more than a few months as their little bodies change and grow. Plus, it’ll make a great story to tell your child when they’re older!
So what are you waiting for? Take a close look at the past Gerber Baby Contest winners, grab your camera, your child and go for it. The Gerber Baby Contest is designed to celebrate happy, healthy and growing babies. The good news is, you don’t need to win to do that - you can start at home today, celebrating your own little one!