Growing-Up Milks Can Help Mothers Overcome the Difficulty of Creating Varied Diets that Provide Toddlers with Optimal Intakes of Important Nutrients for Physical and Mental Development

Adequate and appropriate intakes of macro- and micronutrients in 1- to 3-year-old children have long-term health benefits. However, keeping up with the nutritional needs of a rapidly developing toddler can be a big challenge.

With many women in Asia now returning to work after the birth of their children, many mothers may find it difficult to offer a completely balanced diet with natural food that can meet the requirements of their young children daily. In fact, data shows that the poor and uneven nutritional composition of unfortified complementary foods means that it is difficult to create varied diets that provide toddlers with optimal intakes of important nutrients like DHA, zinc, iron and vitamin D.

It is indeed very likely that a dietician can come up with several proposals of dietary intake for 1-3 years old children with “normal food” that could fulfil the requirements. However, there are a lot of “buts” to this viewpoint.

Accumulated data on dietary intake demonstrate clearly that 1-3 years old children do not eat in a uniform way. For instance, data shows that picky eating is a relatively common problem during childhood, ranging from 8% to 50% of children, and is characterised by the toddler or child eating a limited amount of food, restricting intake particularly of vegetables, being unwilling to try new foods, and having strong food preferences[1].

In order to feed young children a balanced dietary intake, it will be necessary to educate and change the lifestyles of many families.  Furthermore, adaptations of the diet, in order to correct some of the observed deficits, might result in imbalances. For instance, by giving extra meat to increase the iron intake, or extra fish to increase the omega 3 fatty acid DHA intake, the protein intake could become excessive. Several studies show that high/excessive intake during the early years is a risk factor for later overweight.

On the other end of the spectrum, each of the deficient nutrients can be given as a food-supplement in drops or a liquid form that has to be taken by the child every day. But compliance to this will probably be very low, and it is likely that this will be relatively expensive.

Given this context, growing-up milks, which are fortified with many of the deficient nutrients, such as calcium, iron, vitamins D and C, zinc and the omega 3 fatty acid DHA, can be an effective and reliable way to help ensure toddlers get the nutrients that many of them need for healthy physical and mental growth and development.

[1] Picky eating during childhood: A longitudinal study to age 11-years, Anthony J. Mascola, Susan W. Bryson, and W. Stewart Agra, Eat Behav. 2010 Dec; 11(4): 253–257.