Published: March 2020

ID #: 1114

Publisher: Healthy Eating Research

Authors: Harris JL, Pomeranz JL

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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 raise substantial concerns among health and nutrition experts. Toddler drinks contain added sugar and serving them to young children may condition them to prefer sweet drinks over healthier options, including plain milk or water. This brief presents the current evidence on toddler drink marketing trends and their impact. Overall, the marketing practices used to promote toddler drinks raise concerns. Advertising and package claims imply that these products are beneficial, even necessary, for toddlers’ nutrition, cognitive development and growth; however, health professionals do not recommend serving toddler drinks. The brief also presents potential policy actions that can be taken by policymakers, healthcare professionals, and industry to address problematic marketing practices. The brief is based on a recent literature review on infant formula and toddler drink marketing.

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