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.
Toddler Drink Marketing: Opportunities to Address Harmful Practices
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 … 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
The USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides critical nutrition assistance to lower-income women, infants, and young children. During the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment has risen to levels greater than experienced during the Great Recession, and food insecurity has also increased, making WIC’s role more important … More