Toddler Milks: Filling A Nutritional Need Or A Marketing Niche?

http://www.rosaforlife.com/2018/02/toddler-milks-filling-nutritional-need.html

A grocery store's baby formula aisle often stocks an overwhelming number of options. Aside from different brands of pastel-hued tins and tubs, there are specialized formulas — some for spit-up reduction, gas or colic. And in the past decade or so, companies have introduced formulas meant for toddlers who are leaving bottles behind.

"You're faced with a confusing array of labels that are similar looking, and it's not very clear when you're supposed to use one, or switch from one to the other, or actually stop using these, and give your child food," says Jennifer Pomeranz, a public health researcher at New York University who recently analyzed the toddler drinks in grocery store aisles. Her results appeared in the journal Preventive Medicine last month. 
The abundance of options reflects how much care parents tend to put into feeding their youngest family members. There's plenty of science showing that what kids eat in their first few years lays a foundation for their physical growth and brain development for the rest of their lives.

But toddlers don't know how important their diet is. So when they push away new foods, parents get anxious. "For many parents, it's scary to move from breast-feeding or infant formula onto whole cow milk, that seems like a big change," says Steven Abrams, who chairs the American Association of Pediatricians Committee on Nutrition.

That, formula makers say, is where toddler milks come in. Toddler milks are marketed for picky eaters, framed as a familiar, but more grown-up, version of the breast milk or formula they're departing from. "Milk-based toddler drinks can contribute significantly to nutritional intake of older infants and young children," Mardi Mountford, the president of the Infant Nutrition Council of America, said in an email statement. The Infant Nutrition Council of America is an association that includes Gerber products and three other formula makers.

But what an anxious parent may not realize is that these toddler milks are typically more expensive than whole milk and less nutritious, Abrams says. "I don't believe them to be particularly harmful, but they're not necessary, and they're certainly not designed and regulated for infant use."

Continue reading at NPR.org >>


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