If you’ve had or spent any time around someone with young kids, you already know that many parents engage in a constant, relentless pursuit of anything they think will give their kid a developmental advantage over their pint-sized peers. That’s led to a proliferation of frequently conflicting parenting philosophies, many of which are more informed by marketing buzz than scholarly research.
For the latest attempt to cash in on a parent’s desire to give their kid a leg up, look no further than so-called “Toddler Milk.” While conventional wisdom and nutrition experts would suggest a transition to water or cow’s milk after a child ages out of infant formula, baby formula manufacturers have tried to get a piece of the action by selling their own proprietary product that the World Health Organization declares the “fastest growing category for breastmilk substitutes.”
While that growth means Toddler Milk manufacturers have found success pushing their product on the parents of kids aged 13 months and up, there’s evidence to suggest its nutritional profile might do more harm than good for growing kids. According to The Atlantic, Toddler Milk is usually comprised of ingredients including powdered milk, corn syrup, and vegetable oil. Compared to cow’s milk, it provides less protein while introducing added sugar, which kids should consume as little of as possible at this stage in their lives.
Despite its supposed lack of nutritional validity for the very age group it’s aimed at, Toddler Milk’s big marketing push in recent times has translated to increased sales. A University of Connecticut study showed that a 400 percent increase in advertising spending on Toddler Milk from 2006 to 2015 translated to an increase in sales of somewhere between 200 and 600 percent.
That would suggest that public health organizations tasked with educating parents about what their toddlers really need as they age out of infant formula truly have their work cut out for them. Until then, parents might want to take a closer look at the nutrition facts of what their kids are drinking: just because something is for a toddler doesn’t mean it’s right for them.
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