Toddler Drinks: Hype or Helpful?

Toddler Drinks: Hype or Helpful?

Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a baby. During baby’s first 12 months, breast milk is their main source of nutrition. If breastfeeding is not possible use a commercial infant formula until baby turns one. Then switch to full cream milk from a cup. Toddler milk drinks or stage 3 formulas are cow’s milk powder with added flavours, vitamins and other additives. They are not essential for the healthy growth and development of toddlers. While there are many benefits to breastfeeding a child older than 12 months, this is not the case for formula feeding.

Don’t believe the hype

Infant formula companies use toddler or stage 3 formula milk drinks to grow their brand. There is less marketing regulation for these products than infant formula. The companies tap into a parent’s natural desire to do the best for their child. Companies advertise toddler milks as a backup source of nutrition. Toddlers naturally transition from a liquid to a more solid food eating pattern.

Around the time a baby turns one, it is normal for appetite to drop off, as growth slows, and they take more interest in the world around them. It is normal for young children to eat different amounts of food each day. Yet, it can be sometimes mistaken for ’fussy eating’. It can make parents anxious about their otherwise healthy child’s growth and eating. Using toddler milks after twelve months may in fact increase fussiness with eating. They can fill children up so they are not hungry for meals and snacks. Offering full cream milk in a cup and moving on to family meals is a lot easier and more affordable than making up formula or powdered toddler drinks.

Tips to remember

  • If you are breastfeeding, continue for as long as mum and baby wish.
  • If using infant formula move on to cow’s milk as a drink in a cup once baby turns one.
  • Don’t panic if your toddler seems ‘fussy’ with food. This is normal toddler behaviour. Your job is to offer a wide range of food at regular meal and snack times. It is your child’s job to decide whether to eat and how much to eat.
  • Offer water or milk between meals in a small cup. Too much milk can fill them up.

‘But my toddler has a bottle before bed….’

If your toddler is having a bottle to help settle to sleep, replace with a special toy, story time and lots of cuddles. This helps a child to self-settle without the need for food for comfort. It also allows time to clean teeth before bed.

If you have any questions about your child’s eating or growth talk to your child health nurse or GP.