A Nutritional and Marketing Analysis of Milk-Based, Toddler Drinks on the Market in the United States Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • December 4, 2019
  • Jones, Kerry
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • Background: The first 1,000 days of life is an important window for a child’s development that impacts their health throughout their lifetime. Milk-based toddler drinks claim to be nutritionally beneficial for children aged 6-36 months. Despite this claim, medical professionals and public health experts do not recommend these products. Objective: The objective of this study was to conduct an in-depth analysis of milk-based, toddler drinks for children aged 6-36 months currently on the market in the United States, including the nutritional content, nutrient and health marketing claims, global customer purchasing patterns, and any potential nutritional utility for these products. Design: Researchers compiled nutritional information and marketing claims from milk-based, toddler drinks currently on the market in the United States, analyzed purchasing patterns of milk-based toddler drinks in the United States and globally, and conducted a literature search of research conducted within the past 10 years that analyzed the energy and nutrient intakes of children 6-36 months of age. Results: 43 milk-based, toddler drinks were found on the market in the United States, 9 transitional formulas and 34 toddler milks. Toddler drinks varied in their statements of identity, intended age ranges and recommended methods of feeding, contained multiple nutrient and health claims, and frequently contained added sugar. U.S. infants were found to have nutritionally adequate diets on average, while toddlers and young preschoolers had more problematic diets. Toddler drinks sales are on the rise in the United States and globally with the toddler milk formula category being the single largest formula category globally. Conclusions: Milk-based, toddler drink packages and claims do not align with recommendations from national health organizations and may cause confusion among parents and caregivers about the healthfulness and necessity of these products. Sales of toddler drinks are increasing globally despite there being no nutritional utility or benefit of these products beyond what a balanced diet and responsive feeding practices could provide. Milk-based, toddler drinks are nutritionally unnecessary and may negatively impact children’s feeding development and acceptance of a nutritious, balanced diet.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Wasser, Heather
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • Master of Public Health
Graduation year
  • 2019

This work has no parents.