'We hope she can be kind of the baby that other children with limb differences look at and say, 'There's somebody like me who is portrayed in media.''
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 5, 2022. It has since been updated.
The 2022 Gerber Baby, revealed earlier this year after Gerber's 2022 photo search contest, is Isa Slish of Edmond, Oklahoma. The infant is the first Gerber baby with a limb difference. Isa was born with a congenital femoral deficiency, which, according to the National Institutes of Health, is a rare condition that can lead to an incomplete or abnormal leg. "She is fun-loving, a joyous little girl. She loves to laugh and giggle," Meredith Slish, Isa's mom, told Good Morning America. "She's wonderful and we're so lucky to have her."
Speaking to TODAY, Meredith revealed that the Slish family was surprised to hear Isa had been selected as the iconic baby food company's newest "Chief Growing Officer (CGO)" when it was announced live on the air. "We are completely ecstatic. This was such a big surprise," she said. "Whenever you enter your child in a contest like this, the expectation is that someone looks at her picture, so this is incredible and we are so happy. Isa is a strong, amazing little girl that loves to interact with the world around her and nothing will stop her. Her smile lights up the room and her laughter is irresistible."
"Before she was born in September of 2021, we knew Isa was special, and she has shown us that every day since she came into our lives," Slish continued. "While the world around us seeks to embrace individuality and uniqueness, we hope that awareness for limb differences will lead to greater inclusion for children like Isa." John Slish, Isa's dad, revealed that the couple learned first learned of their daughter's limb difference at an ultrasound appointment at 18 weeks. "The medical team that spoke to us just told us that there was a difference in her anatomy. They weren't quite sure what it was going to amount to," he recalled.
"But they gave us some resources, educated us on that, and we did some of our own research," John continued. "When she was born, we were met with more medical teams coming through and just discussing options, available ideas that are out there. She currently sees a specialist at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City, and we're seeking a second opinion on a couple of things. We're fairly certain we will get the same information from that second opinion that we were receiving, that we already know, but yeah, we're just taking it in and processing it day by day."
The results are in: The newest Gerber baby melts hearts with her joyful giggle and loves to snuggle. https://t.co/7ZQhGYyrMk— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 4, 2022
Isa's mom revealed that part of the reason they wanted to enter their daughter into Gerber's contest in the first place was to bring more visibility to people living with limb differences. "Not only do we think that (Isa) is just absolutely wonderful, beautiful, but we also wanted to use this as a way to help raise awareness for children born with limb differences," Slish said. "We hope she can be kind of the baby that other children with limb differences look at and say, 'There's somebody like me who is portrayed in books or media.'" John agreed, adding: "The overarching message for her story is representation matters. It really does and when you learn of things of this nature, about your children or people in your lives, representation truly does matter."
#GerberBaby— Shriners Children’s St. Louis (@ShrinersStLouis) May 4, 2022
“While the world around us seeks to embrace individuality and uniqueness, we hope that awareness for limb differences will lead to greater inclusion for children like Isa.” (via @TODAYshow)
📸: Gerber/ Slish Family#LimbDifferences https://t.co/PA2LBz4kec pic.twitter.com/fy3I8Bjz61
Isa has now become Gerber's twelfth "spokesbaby," following in the footsteps of last year's winner, Zane of Florida. According to Tarun Malkani—Gerber's president and CEO—Isa was a standout among this year's Photo Search contest applicants. "Isa's submission brought smiles to all of our faces, and she truly embodies the idea that every baby is a Gerber baby," Malkani said in a statement. "We could not be more excited to work with Isa and her family throughout this next year to find moments of joy for every Gerber baby." Along with the highly sought-after title of Gerber Baby, Isa will receive free Gerber products for a year, $1000 in Gerber children's apparel, a $1000 gift card from ezpz—which offers dishware for kids—and a $25,000 cash prize. Gerber will also match her cash winnings with a donation to March of Dimes, a nonprofit working to support mothers and babies through maternal and infant health programs.