Should parents buy toddler milks?Parents could be wasting hundreds of pounds

21 August 2013

New Which? research has revealed that some toddler milks contain more sugar and less calcium than cow's milk. Parents could save more than £500 a year by giving their child cow's milk instead of toddler milk.

Toddler milks, also called growing-up milks, are aimed at children aged one to three and are the fastest growing sector of the formula market. 

In a Which? survey, 46%* of mothers with children between one and three years told us they had used toddler milks, even though the government says they are not necessary.

Parents can find everything they need to know about choosing which milk to give their baby in our new guide to choosing the right formula milk. You can also find out which nappies are rated highest for comfort, absorbency and value in our review of the best nappy brands.

Sugar in toddler milks

Toddler milks might not be as healthy as parents would expect. Which? found they contain more sugar and less calcium than cow's milk.

A 300ml serving of cow's milk (the government daily recommended serving) provides all the calcium a one to three year old needs. The recommended daily serving of several of the toddler milks does not. 

Cow's milk contains 4.7g sugar per 100ml, compared to 7.9g of sugar per 100ml of Hipp Organic Combiotic Growing up milk. And some daily servings contain twice as much sugar - three teaspoons a day for cow's milk compared to seven teaspoons a day for SMA Toddler milk. 

SMA Toddler milk also contains vanilla flavouring, which encourages children to prefer sweetened products. 

Cost of toddler milks

Toddler milks are expensive. Following manufacturers' instructions: 

  • a recommended daily serving of powdered toddler milk can cost up to £235 per year, 
  • using ready-to-feed toddler milk increases this cost to up to £593,
  • the annual cost of 300ml of cow's milk is £62.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: 'At a time when so many household budgets are severely squeezed, parents could be saving hundreds of pounds on toddler milks that the government says are unnecessary. 

Ministers should make their advice much clearer and introduce guidance on the ingredients of toddler milks, including the level of sugar and calcium.'

More on this...

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  • Join our conversation on toddler milk versus cow's milk
  • Make sure your house is baby-ready with Best Buy products for parents

* We surveyed 727 mothers with children under 3 years between 08 November and 06 December 2012