Chief Growing Officer

There’s A New Gerber Baby — And He’s A Ray Of Light

Meet Sonny.

A joyful toddler in yellow pajamas holding a "My 1st ABC" book in front of a play tent with a sun de...
Akil McLeod / Gerber

When it comes to marketing, it’s hard to compete with the mass appeal of babies. Gerber caught on in 1928, when the brand held a contest in search of the very first Gerber Baby. The winning submission was a sweet sketch of a baby’s face that continues to represent the brand to this day. Since 2014, Gerber has celebrated the tradition (and our collective adoration of babies) with an annual photo search contest, awarding the role of Gerber spokesbaby and “Chief Growing Officer” to one roly-poly cherub each year.

In 2024, for the first time, families of past winners were invited to help choose the next Gerber Baby. With Gerber, they chose Akil McLeod Jr., whose contagious smile and sunny disposition made him stand out among a very cute crowd.

Sonny’s mom and dad grew up in New York and fell in love volunteering together. Now living in Arizona, Akil Sr. and Dominique are raising Sonny and Sage to demonstrate “kindness, respect others, be resilient, and lead by example.”

As the Gerber Photo Search winner, Sonny will be featured on Gerber’s social and marketing channels throughout the year. The gig also includes a $25,000 cash prize, free Gerber products, a wardrobe provided by Gerber Childrenswear, and more prizes from Brooklinen, Canon, UPPABaby, Little Tikes, Motherhood Maternity, and ezpz! Additionally, Gerber will match Sonny’s cash prize with a donation to March of Dimes’ maternal and infant health programs.


The 2024 honoree shines so bright, he’s been going by “Sonny” since before he was born. When a ray of sunshine streamed through the window directly onto Dominique McLeod’s pregnant belly, she thought, “That’s my little sunny boy!” and Sonny has brought light into their lives ever since.

Scary Mommy had the chance to sit down with this year’s freshly appointed spokesbaby, his toddler “big” sister, Sage, and his parents, Dominique and Akil Sr.

Congratulations! So, how does it feel to be the Gerber Baby?

Akil: Amazing! Look at him, he’s happy!

[Akil is right. Sonny is a literal bouncing bundle of joy on his father’s knee.]

How did you guys react when you got the big news?

Akil: Crying!

Dominique: Crying! Yes. We cried! I don’t know... it didn’t really feel real, I don’t think it started to feel real until today, until we started to get ready for the Today show. But yeah, we cried, definitely.

Akil: Tears of joy.

What made you enter the contest?

Dominique: I had seen it when we first had Sage a few years back, and I was like, I’m interested... but you know, I just didn’t think too much of it.

Then this year I’d seen it pop up and was like, “You know what? Let’s just do it!” I remember taking the picture that we submitted, and I thought it was super cute, why not try?

I didn’t say anything to Akil because I was like, well, who knows if we’re going to make it. I’ll tell him when it gets more real.

So I got the email that we were finalists and was like, “Oh, I should probably tell Akil now!”

It moved really quick from that point. It was email, interview, we received it, and now we’re here in New York!

What a whirlwind! And a happy belated birthday to Sonny [whose first birthday was on June 20]! How did you celebrate?

Akil: Thank you. We had a little birthday party for him. We celebrated at home first. His party was good! We had a lot of friends, a lot of family there. So it was really good.

Big sister Sage loving on her little brother, Sonny.


And he has an equally cute big sister, Sage! How does she feel about having a newly famous baby brother?

Dominique: [Laughing] Oh, I don’t think she knows. For her, she’s like, this is my brother, I’m the sister. Same old, same old, big sister.

And does Sonny have a favorite food yet? I hear he’s an adventurous eater.

Dominique: Fruit! He really likes fruit a lot. He likes mashed potatoes. What doesn’t he like? He really likes carrots. The only thing I found that he doesn’t really like is broccoli. He’s not too much a fan of broccoli. Other than that he loves it all — avocado, sweet potatoes, squash, all the apples and applesauce — he’s a really, really good eater.

You are very involved in your community. Are there volunteer activities you’re able to participate in as a family? How do you incorporate your kids into that, because I know it’s hard with little ones.

Dominique: I’ll be honest with you, we’ll get there one day! One day we will, when they’re a little bit older. Anything I can do maybe separately with them I would love to do, but in terms of bringing them both out for a long-term thing — it is difficult with anything longer than about 15 minutes. We do a father group and a mom group, and that’s something where we like to have the kids involved, it’s definitely more kid-friendly.


Congratulations to Sonny and the McLeod family, and thank you for sharing that joyful smile with the world!