Bottle Backlash: Chocolate- and Vanilla-Flavored Formulas for Toddlers Under Fire

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Feeding & Sleeping, Nutrition: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Expert Advice: Babies, Expert Advice: Toddlers & Preschoolers

Feeding your toddler sweet, flavored formulas could spark sugar cravings. Credit: Getty Images

If your toddler is hitting the bottle hard, it might be time for an intervention.

A new toddler formula that comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors is under fire from some mom bloggers and nutritionists who worry that it could increase a kid's likelihood of developing childhood obesity, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The product in question is Enfagrow Premium, which Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. introduced in February as a beverage for toddlers who are transitioning from infant formula or breast milk. The formulas are milk-based but contain 19 grams of sugar per 7-ounce serving, the Times reports.

Mead defends its product, noting that it's no sweeter than other beverages toddlers drink, and that it also has Omega-3 DHA and prebiotics.

"The toddlers years can be particularly challenging since food preferences may be erratic and unpredictable," Mead Johnson spokesman Chris Perille tells the Times. "Products such as Enfagrow Premium can play a role in helping children achieve a more balanced, healthy daily diet."

However, some say giving kids sweet beverages at a young age could get them hooked on sugar.

A commenter on writes, "What's next, genetically modifying moms to produce chocolate breast milk?"

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, criticizes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on her blog, arguing that the product is claiming health benefits for children younger than 2, the Times reports.

But FDA spokesman Michael Herndon says the product is considered a food -- not an infant formula -- under FDA guidelines. He also says the product only claims to "support" normal body functions, according to the Times.

Instead, Enfagrow is part of the "follow-on formula" category, which is basically formula for toddlers. It's been a lucrative business for Mead, which in 2009 made $900 million in sales from children's nutritional products -- mostly toddler milk -- according to the Times.

Instead of sweetened toddler milks, though, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests parents offer their children several healthy options and allow the kids to choose. The academy adds that dietary supplements are usually unnecessary for toddlers who eat a nutritious diet.

Related: Baby Formula is Not Rat Poison

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.