Children’s diets in their first 1000 days influence dietary preferences, eating habits, and long-term health. Yet the diets of most infants and toddlers in the United States do not conform to recommendations for optimal child nutrition. This narrative review examines whether marketing for infant formula and other commercial baby/toddler foods plays a role. The World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes strongly encourages countries and manufacturers to prohibit marketing practices that discourage initiation of, and continued, breastfeeding. However, in the United States, widespread infant formula marketing negatively impacts breastfeeding. Research has also identified questionable marketing of toddler milks (formula/milk-based drinks for children aged 12-36 mo). The United States has relied exclusively on industry self-regulation, but U.S. federal agencies and state and local governments could regulate problematic marketing of infant formula and toddler milks. Health providers and public health organizations should also provide guidance. However, further research is needed to better understand how marketing influences what and how caregivers feed their young children and inform potential interventions and regulatory solutions.
Infant formula and toddler milk marketing: opportunities to address harmful practices and improve young children’s diets
Toddler drinks are a relatively new product category, typically offered by infant formula manufacturers and promoted as beneficial for young children ages 12 months and older. Marketing promotes these drinks as the “next step” after infant formula, using claims that imply unproven benefits for children’s nutrition and health. However, these drinks … More
There is a gap in the research identifying areas for U.S. regulation of foods and beverages marketed for infants and toddlers through three years of age. To fill this gap, this paper evaluates relevant policy opportunities to address marketing and labeling practices of concern. First, we provide background on marketing and … More
Breastfeeding protects against overweight and obesity, asthma, eczema, and type-II diabetes, and has long-term health benefits for women. The health benefits of breastfeeding are so valuable that in 1981, the World Health Organization established the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes (WHO Code) that prohibits marketing infant formula to … More