Fort Worth, Texas,
14:57 PM

3 Reasons Why This Pediatrician Doesn’t Recommend Toddler Formula

The Doc Smitty says save your money for college … no really.

As if there weren’t enough choices for formula in the newborn period…now we have to decide if our toddler needs formula too?

Most pediatricians recommend breastfeeding as the primary source of fluid intake for up to one year of age (even longer is fine).

For those who choose not to or could not breastfeed, I recommend an iron-fortified formula until one year.

After one year, a healthy, normal developing children should be transitioned to a well-balanced diet.

Cow’s milk can be used as an easy source of calories, protein and calcium but there’s nothing magical about it. If your child doesn’t like it, or you choose not to, just make sure that they are getting a nice rounded diet.

So, what about toddler formulas and toddler drinks?

The formula companies would like you to believe that they are an essential part of a toddler’s diet. They have added components to make them more attractive including probiotics and DHA. They make the cans look similar to your infant formula, to make it feel like the transition is expected and necessary.

But, I think you can and should skip them, unless instructed by or prescribed by your pediatrician. Here are 3 reasons why:

Many of them have ingredients that I wouldn’t recommend for toddlers anyway: corn syrup and other caloric sweeteners for example.

We really don’t know much about what giving DHA to a toddler adds to his or development or intelligence. If you are worried about it, add some fish to your toddler’s diet.

Most kids get plenty of calories and nutrients from other food sources. They don’t need the added calories and the extra nutrients are unnecessary except for the pickiest, most restrictive eaters.

So, what is toddler formula?

Mostly hype and marketing.

What should you do about it?

Unless instructed by your pediatrician, save your money for college…and I mean it.

Here’s the calculation:

Assuming three 8 ounces cups of toddler formula per day, you will need about 70 cans of toddler formula from 12 to 24 months. Each can costs about $20. That’s a total of $1400 during that year. If you invested that $1400 over the next 16 years (until they reach college age) and averaged 10 percent growth, you’d have about $6,500 by the time they reach college age.

Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club  and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.

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