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What’s the Deal with Toddler Formulas?

October 24, 2023

Not infrequently, I will be seeing a 12- or 18-month-old child, and when I ask about milk intake, the parent will tell me that their child is drinking a toddler formula instead. I have not really known how to counsel parents about whether this was appropriate or not.

I was therefore happy to see an AAP Clinical Report, authored by Dr. George Fuchs, Dr. Steven Abrams, and Dr. Adjowa Amevor, on behalf of the AAP Committee on Nutrition, and entitled “Older Infant-Young Child ‘Formulas’”, which is being early released in Pediatrics this week (10.1542/peds.2023-064050). 

The authors make several important points:

  • These older infant-young child formulas (OIYCFs) are not regulated by the FDA, so the nutritional content can vary tremendously.
  • OIYCFs are not nutritionally complete, so they should not be used for children who are younger than 12 months of age or who are at nutritional risk.
  • Compared with cow milk, OIYCFs are considered “sugar-sweetened” beverages and do not offer any additional nutritional benefit. They are also generally more expensive than whole milk and are not included in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Children, and Infants (WIC) packages.

The AAP still prefers human milk or cow milk for children 12-24 months of age as part of a nutritionally balanced diet.

After reading this AAP Clinical Report, I will feel comfortable with assuring parents that they do not need to buy “toddler formulas.”

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