• Tue, Feb 11 - 12:30 pm ET

Makers Of Infant Formula Losing Money, Now Trying To Convince Us We Need Absurdly Expensive ‘Toddler Milk’

71CP5w5A1ML._SL1500_Breastfeeding rates are on the rise. Clearly, there’s an industry that is not happy with this – the makers of infant formula. The industry thought of a way to make up for all the revenue it’s losing as the global breastfeeding rate continues to climb; toddler milk.

In the U.S. alone, 77% of new mothers were breastfeeding in 2010. In Hong Kong, “the percentage of new mothers opting to breastfeed jumped from less than 20% in 1992 to more than 80% in 2011.” The numbers of babies under six months who are breastfed exclusively is also on the rise worldwide. So what better way to make-up this revenue loss than convincing parents to spend a ridiculous amount of money on fortified toddler milk?

It’s just in the last five years that toddler milk has “become really popular,” Lauren Bandy, an analyst with Euromonitor International, tells Quartz. Now more than “one in three dollars spent on infant formula globally is going on toddler-specific products,” she said.

The milks are sold in cans that look like baby formula, often under similar brand names like Enfamil and Similac, but they do not fall under WHO and most local advertising bans because they target children one year old and up. Their marketing suggests they have the same benefits as drugs or supplements, but they generally are not subject to the same regulatory oversight as medicine.

The milks use popular buzzwords to make claims that have only been substantiated by industry-funded research. They use words like IQ, DHA and probiotics to try and convince parents they are providing something that is missing in the toddler diet. Agnes Marie Tarrant, an infant-feeding expert and associate professor at the University of Hong Kong sums it up when she explains, “All these things are made for neurotic parents.”

It’s obviously sketchy at best when an industry that is losing money is all of a sudden trying to convince parents of older children they have made a product they can’t live without. But as long as there are concerned parents, there will be industries preying on our ability to be suckered into buying super expensive products like these: “The marketing of these products is particularly eye-catching in Asia, where they’re sold as miracle foods, capable of helping young toddlers become over-achievers, by playing violins and lifting barbells.”

The fact is, toddlers don’t need fancy supplements if they are eating a healthy diet. A 24-count box of Enfagrow’s Next Step ‘Natural Milk is $38.94. Depending on where you are in the country, two gallons of regular old cow’s milk will run you about $7.00.  I know what I’ll be sticking with.

(photo: Amazon)

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  • Bethany Ramos

    Well, to kick formula manufacturers in the ass just one more time, I also buy generic store-brand formula for much cheaper. #winning

    • Robotic Arms Dealer

      Check Amazon subscribe and save frequently

      http://www.amazon.com/Subscribe/b/ref=rcxsubs_details_cs?ie=UTF8&node=5856181011

      When you subscribe to a particular product, they usually offer free shipping and a discount. Often, they’ll post an additional discounted coupon.

      You can unsubscribe anytime, even after a single purchase.

    • Maria Guido

      Subscribe and save is awesome, but I am convinced that amazon is single-handedly responsible for my sketchy financial situation.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I am a member of Amazon Prime! Free 2 day shipping = I never leave the house.

    • TheGiantPeach

      My motto is that if you can’t get it with Amazon Prime, you don’t need it.

    • Guest

      It does not apply to formula; I feed formula and thought I could sign up for Amazon Mom and get a discount but it didn’t work that way. I emailed them to confirm and they emailed back it does not apply to formula and no plans to apply it to formula.

    • Véronique Houde

      My doctor is a total advocate of the cheapest formula possible, and actually congratulates parents when they buy the cheapest stuff on the market.

    • ChickenKira

      I wish the cheapie brand made a lactose free formula here, they only do soy, which I’m not big on.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Me too! I get Shoppers Drug Mart brand formula.
      In addition to this, I wait for points promotions to buy many tins. I rack up the max points quickly and then gets $170 free merchandise… which I can then spend on more formula. I win life.

    • Bethany Ramos

      It’s like they’re paying you to feed your baby!!!

    • pixie

      Optimum points are my friend.
      My mom has so many points that when they have the “spend your points day” and is feeling particularly nice (not that she isn’t nice pretty well all the time) she’ll treat me to some makeup that I normally can’t afford.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I used to spend the points on replacing my makeup :D I have Dior lipstick on a Covergirl budget.

  • SA

    I saw an advertisement for this just the other day and was like WTF?! The best thing about my kid turning 1 was that I could stop buying that crap. Toddler milk???

  • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

    It’s like Field of Dreams, but for stupid products. “If you market it, people will buy, Ray. People will buy.”

  • August

    It would be nice to have something to give my toddler when she refuses all forms of nutrition. Sage is severely allergic to milk protein so those kid nutrition drinks don’t fly.
    In the past I’ve resorted to making rice milk “shakes” with peanut butter and some chocolate chips.

    • JAN

      I’m not sure how old your toddler is but what I did for my pickie toddler who can’t have dairy was make fruit based smoothies that also had things like boiled egg whites, spinach, vanilla hemp milk, protein powder (I use hemp), I generally put frozen blueberries and strawberries and maybe a banana and soy yogurt. The strawberries and blueberries are colorful and flavorful as well a healthy and kind of mask the other tastes. I also freeze these in popsicle molds and make them special “treats”. It might or might not work for your toddler but it was how I figured out to get some protein and greens in my picky child. Good luck!

  • Véronique Houde

    These are actually quite popular in France, where they still believe that by thickening the milk that you give your toddlers, it will help them sleep better at night. My SIL and her own sister looked everywhere for them when they were here, and since they’re not very popular because of the governmental stance that they are a waste of money, they didn’t find them, and ended up putting cereal in the 2 year old’s milk… My MIL asked about them when they came over also, and it was awkward explaining to her that all of the research has shown these milks to be completely inaffective and a waste of money, which is why they are not popular in Canada, when her other son still gives them to their three year old… *sigh*

  • Kay_Sue

    Concerned parents are easy to sell to. Neurotic parents are easier to sell to than less concerned parents, but harder than generally concerned parents (because they question everything). #FormerBabyRetailerMafia

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    Well you can’t blame them for trying. I saw something called “Baboo” in the store the other day that purported to be special milk for 12 months+. It’s milk. From another species. That we drink, as adults. It’s already weird enough, let’s not make it weirder.

    • Maria Guido

      Please explain this. haha

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I just mean that cow’s milk – when you really think about it, as I was forced to this week by my curious almost 3 year old who asks so many fucking questions – is SUPER WEIRD.

      And then we add a bunch of other stuff to it and say it’s special for this age or that age or whatever and it’s totally necessary for our brains even though it’s obviously intended for baby cows. I sound like I’m getting preachy about veganism or something (which would be hilarious, as I am currently drinking coffee with a copious amount of cream in it) – I’m so not, I love me some cheese, goat especially (mmm chevre) – it’s just that it’s WEIRD. Delicious, but weird.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I can’t wait to stop buying formula. Full stop.

  • BW2

    In developing parts of the world doctors recommend babies stay on some kind of formula or breastmilk until 18 months. They figure at least they will be getting good nutrition through formula if parents are not providing a healthy diet.

  • Blueathena623

    Tempted to post a pic of the generic “toddler and older infant formula” sitting on my counter. When kiddo is teething or sick and refuses to eat I put a scoop-full or two in his cup of regular milk just to get some more calories in him.

  • Itpainsmetosay

    I’m not trying to be snarky, just curious about your opinion. How do you feel about Flintstones gummies or similar products?

  • CMP414

    My daughter was exclusively formula fed and I never bought one can of toddler milk. to me it seemed unneeded when she was old enough to drink cow’s milk. i also only bought store brand formula once i realized it was the same exact thing as name brand

  • Carolina

    “It’s obviously sketchy at best when an industry that is losing money” – citation for (1) that there is a formula “industry” and (2) that the product lines are losing money, As to to (1), this products are made by big conglomerates that make hundreds of products. It’s not some evil “industry.” (2) there’s no evidence the product lines are losing money. Simply because breastfeeding rates are increasing doesn’t mean formula sales are falling – increased population could easily make up the difference. Sorry, but this is just sloppy and detracts from your point.

  • Rachel Sea

    They’ve been marketing kid formula for years as an alternative to getting your kid to eat vegetables or breakfast.

  • Ashie
  • CBillard

    As the parent of a toddler who sucks at eating (like will lose weight if he doesn’t get supplemented milk) I looked into these. You worry that you’re kid isn’t getting the proper nutrients when all they’ve eaten in a day is graham crackers and Goldfish. But our doc actually told us to same money and supplement with Carnation Instant Breakfast rather than toddler formula or Pediasure.

  • andrea

    One of the reasons I loved our pediatrician is that he basically said after 10 months of formula feeding that we could switch to regular milk. Done! I always intended to breast feed, but it just didn’t work out that way in the end :(

  • ElleJai

    We’re still on half formula, half expensive (easier to digest) milk at 19 months. The weeks of screaming before we got onto lactose free formula made me paranoid, and the paediatric allergist I subsequently had him tested by said I could change him over slowly. We’re going slowly, so hopefully in another month we’ll be formula free here too :)

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