Do Kids Need ‘Toddler Milk?’ Here’s What Parents Need to Know

Should toddler milk be in your little one’s cup?

By: Amanda Mushro

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Young toddler girl holding a cup with milk in her cheeks


Young toddler girl holding a cup with milk in her cheeks

Photo by: Sally Anscombe

Sally Anscombe

For babies that are done drinking breast milk or formula–usually around their first birthday–doctors recommend introducing cow’s milk to their diet. However, if you take a stroll through the baby aisle at the grocery store, you will see toddler milk right next to the formula. According to the brands that make both supplements, toddler milk will give your little one extra nutrients. But is this next-step in feeding really necessary?

According to a report by the World Health Organization, toddler milk is the fastest-growing category of breast milk substitutes. However, pediatricians and nutrition experts are warning parents to pass on toddler milk because it’s an unnecessary extra expense and contains added sugars, more sodium and less protein than regular whole milk.

"Regular cow's milk and water are the only beverages a toddler needs and I really encourage parents of toddlers to fight the urge to give them more food, more nutrients and let their kids regulate their own appetite," Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a pediatrician at Columbia University, told Good Morning America.

Since many toddlers can be picky eaters, parents just want to make sure they are giving their kid’s the right foods to help their brain and bodies grow. So, while looking at toddler milks that claim to have extra nutrients and brain boosters like DHA, it’s easy to see why parents are adding it to their carts and ultimately to their toddler’s cups.

Brands that make toddler milk have put big bucks behind the advertising and marketing of the supplement, so parents are seeing it as something their baby should have. According to new research, formula companies actually quadrupled their advertising of toddler milk products between 2006 and 2015. This was in response to seeing sales of formula slump in recent years.

As a result, parents are being inundated with free coupons being sent to their homes, advertisements everywhere and pedaled with toddler milk promotions from mommy bloggers. It’s no wonder parents are feeling confused.

Experts are urging parents to talk to their pediatricians, read labels and grab the whole milk instead.

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