According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), toddler “formulas” that are promoted as nutritious drinks for the older infant or preschooler are generally unnecessary and nutritionally incomplete, and the marketing practices that promote them are questionable.
The AAP has published a new clinical report, “Older Infant-Young Child ‘Formulas,'” that reviews the growing array of drinks aimed at children ages 6-36 months and observes that they lack standardization or regulatory oversight.
It is not new information that marketing efforts of breastmilk substitutes are consistently predatory and create a lot of confusion for the general public, along with undermining breastfeeding efforts of parents. However, this report, coming from an organization such as the AAP, highlights a corner of the market that is not often in the limelight – that of toddler milks and ‘follow-up’ formula.
The new report from the AAP concludes by recommending the following:
- For infants younger than 12 months, the liquid portion of the diet should be provided by human milk or standard infant formula that has been reviewed by the FDA based on the Infant Formula Act.
- For toddlers (children 12 months and older), caregivers should provide a varied diet with fortified foods to optimize nutritional intake. OIYCFs can safely be used as part of a varied diet for children but do not provide a nutritional advantage in most children over a well-balanced diet that includes human milk (preferred) and/or cow milk, and these products should not be promoted as such. OIYCFs have no specific role in routine care of healthy children and are more expensive than cow milk.
- Marketing of OIYCFs should make the clear and unambiguous distinction from standard infant formula in promotional materials, logos, product names, and packaging. OIYCF product name should not be linked in any way to infant formula (numerical, steps, sequential name) and should be labeled as something other than formula—for example, follow-on or toddler “drink” or “beverage” rather than follow-on or toddler “formula.” Product placement in store shelves of OIYCFs should not be alongside standard infant formulas.
- Education of families about OIYCFs by health care teams as part of well-child visits is encouraged.
- Medical providers and care teams should complete a focused nutritional assessment, with consideration of mineral- and iron-rich solid food consumption and offer adjustment of solid food intake and/or vitamin supplementation as needed.
The full report can be found here: https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/doi/10.1542/peds.2023-064050/194469/Older-Infant-Young-Child-Formulas?autologincheck=redirected