Published: March 2020

ID #: 1114

Publisher: Healthy Eating Research

Authors: Harris JL, Pomeranz JL

See more related research


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.

Related Research

January 2020

Infant formula and toddler milk marketing: opportunities to address harmful practices and improve young children’s diets

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 More

July 2019

Federal Regulation of Infant and Toddler Food and Drink Marketing and Labeling

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 labeling of infant, baby, and More

February 2022

Marketing of sugar-sweetened children’s drinks and parents’ misperceptions about benefits for young children

Despite expert recommendations, U.S. parents often serve sugar-sweetened children’s drinks, including sweetened fruit-flavored drinks and toddler milks, to young children. This qualitative research explored parents’ understanding of common marketing tactics used to promote these drinks and whether they mislead parents to believe the drinks are healthy and/or necessary for children. We conducted nine focus groups More