It’s commonly known that the majority of an infant’s nutritional requirements are fulfilled through breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. While babies do generally start eating some beginner foods around six months of age, these foods don’t provide the majority of nutritional requirements. Starter foods are more about getting babies used to eating, as opposed to providing a large amount of nutrition.
Some parents choose to move away from breastfeeding or giving formula around the time their baby turns one. They will usually replace the formula or breast milk with cows’ milk, soy milk, or some other ‘normal’ milk. However, it may be wiser to switch to a toddler-specific formula instead.
Benefits of Using Formula
The most important goal of feeding toddlers is to make sure all their nutritional requirements are met. However, with most children this is easier said than done. Toddlers are notoriously choosy about what they eat and drink, and generally very inconsistent in those choices. You may dream of feeding your toddler a healthy balanced diet of fresh foods and dairy products, but most toddlers will not eat that way. Most toddlers are amenable to trying new foods occasionally, but they also tend to stick to a limited diet of favourites. They are also easily distracted when eating, and don’t always eat much in a given meal, so it can be hard to verify whether or not their meals are providing adequate nutrition.
Supplementing with a toddler formula can be a great help in these cases. One of the hardest parts of moving your toddler from baby formula or breast milk to cows’ milk (or an alternative) is the change in taste. Breast milk and formula are fairly sweet, and many babies don’t care for the taste of cows’ milk. However, formula is generally flavoured slightly (vanilla is a popular choice) which increases the odds that your toddler will actually drink it.
Another great advantage of formula is that it is specifically created with a maximum amount of nutrition in an easily-digestible format. Formula can provide your toddler with vitamins, minerals, Omega-3s, calcium, and protein. You can be confident your child is getting great nutrition, without spending all your time trying to create balanced meals of various foods your child may or may not eat. Incorporating formula can give you as a parent great peace of mind, and allow you to focus on enjoying life with your toddler instead of obsessing about nutrition.
What to Look for in a Formula
If you’ve decided to supplement your toddler’s diet with formula, there are a few keys to choosing the right one. Obviously, it’s important to find one that your toddler will actually consume, so you may need to try a few brands to find the one with the best taste. Additionally, it may be important to you to find a formula that uses ingredients (such as milk powder) from your country, or is manufactured according to a certain standard. You also need to verify which nutrients the formula provides and how much of the recommended dietary intake is included in each serving. If you have additional questions, you can also talk to your child’s paediatrician and ask for a recommendation.