print header

MOH Column

Current   2017   2016   2015   2014   2013    2012    2011

Designer Dairy Products for Toddlers – Not So Well Designed

Jul 18, 2012
You may have recently seen new packaged foods for toddlers (children between the ages of 12 and 24 months), which are now widely available in grocery stores and big box stores. One new product is designer milk, which has been advertised as having apparent advantages over regular milk.

You may have recently seen new packaged foods for toddlers (children between the ages of 12 and 24 months), which are now widely available in grocery stores and big box stores. One new product is designer milk, which has been advertised as having apparent advantages over regular milk.  

Many parents have questions about food choices for their growing children. At about one year of age, children are usually eating the same food as the rest of the family. Here are a few things to think about when deciding if designer milk is right for your child.  

Designer milk is made by adding other ingredients to whole, or homogenized milk. This is to make it more like breast milk, containing more fat but less protein. You can expect to pay about $3.29 / litre for a designer milk product readily available in Simcoe Muskoka. Whole cow’s milk costs about $5.50 for four litres ($1.38 / litre). As you can see, the designer dairy product is almost two-and-a-half times as expensive as regular milk.  

Beyond cost, you should also compare nutritional values. Although designer milk is made from cow’s milk, it contains less than half the calcium and less than one third of the vitamin D found in the same amount of whole cow’s milk. Not only is designer milk much more expensive, but a child has to drink much more of it to acquire the same levels of calcium and vitamin D found in whole cow’s milk.  

So what does this mean? It means toddlers need to consume far too much designer milk to get calcium and vitamin D, which doesn’t leave a lot of room to get the other nutrition children need to be healthy. As a parent, you know the more milk your child drinks, the less food they eat – and its all about balance.  

These products also make various claims about their ingredients. For example, they promote the inclusion of DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid, a type of omega 3 fat) as a benefit for toddlers. In fact, there is no recommendation for the amount of DHA a toddler should have, and designer milks contain only small amounts of DHA. Your toddler can get more DHA through natural food sources, such as light tuna, salmon and DHA enriched eggs.   Another claim involves the addition of vitamin C to designer milk. While it is true that vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, there is very little iron in designer milks for children to absorb. Toddlers get most of their iron from meat and alternatives. Vegetables and fruit contain plenty of vitamin C, which helps your child absorb the iron they need.    

In the end, there is no nutritional reason to choose designer milk over regular milk. When in doubt, consult Canada’s Food Guide to find healthy foods for your toddler. Remember, toddlers have small tummies, so make every bite count. For general information about what and how to feed your growing toddler, please visit www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Toddlers.aspx?categoryID=52  or call Your Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and speak with a public health nurse.    

-30-      

Dr. Surry is one of Simcoe Muskoka’s associate medical officers of health and a paediatrician.        


Did you find what you were looking for?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?
Page
Feedback

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...