We’ve found that parents could unwittingly be spending up to £593 a year on toddler milks that their child doesn’t really need. With cow’s milk coming in at a fraction of the price would you make the switch?
The nutritional content of toddler milk has also given us cause for concern with more sugar but less calcium than cow’s milk. In fact, some toddler milks contain almost twice as much sugar as cow’s milk and for most; their daily recommended doses don’t fulfill the calcium requirements of a toddler.
And with 300ml of cow’s milk giving a toddler all the calcium they need each day, costing £62 per year, we think that it would be difficult for parents to justify these costs.
Government advice for parents does not suggest that toddler milks are necessary for child’s growth and development. However, nearly half of mothers (46%) we surveyed with a child over the age of one said they feed their children toddler milk.
A taste for sweet milks
To be honest I’m not surprised. Many of my friends use these milks or have done. When I’ve asked them about why they do, they say they almost use them as an insurance policy – a sort of vitamin and mineral top-up. But it’s an expensive top-up and also one that isn’t as healthy as they might think. The extra sugar in these milks encourages children to prefer sweetened milks, and SMA Toddler milk also contains vanilla flavouring which sweetens it further.
Another reason parents may have been swayed to buy these milks is because they are often advertised as promoting that they contain forty times as much iron as cow’s milk and vitamin D.
While there’s no denying that these milks do contain these ingredients the fact of the matter is cow’s milk is not a source of iron and has never been – so should we be relying on toddler milk as a source for the mineral?
Milk and multivitamins
Children would get iron from the food they eat, including red meat, lentils and pulses and green leafy veg. And while vitamin D can be problematic in the UK (we get it from sunshine which isn’t always in plentiful supply!) the government recommends all children from six months to five years take a multivitamin that contains vitamins A, C and D to ensure they’re getting enough.
I think formula manufacturers have been very clever creating toddler milks as they prolong the length of time a parent would use their products from maybe one year (infant formula) to a potential three years and have made toddler milks seem like a natural progression.
The government needs to make sure their message that toddler milks are not necessary reaches parents as in this current climate I am sure many families could do with saving the unnecessary money spent on these.
Did you feel obliged to feed your children toddler milk? Have you opted for cow’s milk instead of the formula variety? We’re keen to hear your experiences.