Despite rising sales, experts are somewhat divided.
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Toddler MilkToddler Milk Getty Images, istock, ABC News Photo Illustration

It’s common practice that babies who are formula-fed switch to cow’s milk around their first birthdays. For breast milk-fed babies, that transition usually happens either after the baby’s first birthday or whenever mom starts to wean.

However, in recent years, more parents are opting for “toddler milk.”

Manufactured by the same companies that offer baby formula, including Enfamil, Happy Baby, Nature’s One and HIPP, toddler milk is marketed as the next step for babies one year or older.

According to a 2016 report from the World Health Organization, toddler milk is the fastest-growing category of breast milk substitutes, with 8.6% growth per year.

While the market for toddler milk grows, sales of infant formula have decreased. “Sales of toddler milk more than doubled in the study period [2006-2015], from $39 million in 2006 to $92 million in 2015. In the same time period, TV, print, and online advertising spending for toddler milk increased from less than $5 million annually to more than $20 million annually, while advertising spending for infant formula declined,” a study cited in The Atlantic, revealed.

In an era of overwhelming choices, opinions and social media pressures to be the perfect parent, toddler milk may just be one more thing parents don’t need, but purchase anyway because they think they should.

Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a pediatrician at Columbia University, told “Good Morning America” toddler milk is unnecessary.

“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,” she advised.

“I worry that parents sometimes get creative — trying to give more milk, PediaSure, juice, etcetera and ultimately, the liquid calories make their kids full and decreases their appetite for real, nutritious food,” she said.

The makers of one of the most popular toddler milks, Enfagrow Toddler Next Step Milk Powder, don’t necessarily agree.

Eleven organic dairy farms in Vermont closed in 2021. The next year, 18 more followed. And this year, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont expects to lose another 28 farms.

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