toddler with milk

Fortified Toddler Nutrition: A Recipe for Success

Did you know that a toddler is more active during that stage than at any other point in life, averaging 2,368 steps per hour? Optimal nutrition is the foundation for this period of growth and activity. Though they’re not babies anymore, their nutrient needs are still different from those of older kids or adults.

What is Toddler Nutrition?

Toddler milk, also called growing-up milk or young child formula, is a custom formulated milk-based beverage made for one to three-year-olds. After six months of exclusive breastfeeding, the World Health Organization recommends adding nutritious complementary foods to supplement breastfeeding. 

The Western European market for growing-up milk is €854, according to Euromonitor, and represents 28% of the milk formula market share in the region.1 These products offer an opportunity for parents to introduce solid food, while still ensuring their growing baby receives the nutrients to support physical & cognitive development. Vitamin & mineral fortification claims in infant formula launches topped nearly 70% in 2019.2 

So, what do European parents look for when reaching for toddler milk? According to a survey of UK parents, health-promoting ingredients is a leading factor in influencing their choices on milk formulas. Health-promoting ingredients even ranks higher than price or brand. Health ingredients has also grown its influence among surveyed UK parents. Those who consider this as a factor grew from 31% to 40% between 2019 and 2020.3
In another survey, over half (54%) of German parents stated that health-ingredients are the most important facts when buying milk formulas.2

Fortified toddler foods or snacks also have nutrient benefits and many parents look to those foods to incorporated added vitamins & minerals. Over 60% of Spanish parents with children between 0-4 years old indicate that they actively look for baby/toddler foods with added vitamins & minerals.4

Why Parents Buy

1. Nutrient Deficiency Prevention

Like the adult who takes a multivitamin to be on the safe side, fortified toddler food & beverages gives assurance to parents that their toddler is getting all the required nutrients, such as essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Feeding a toddler a diverse diet (and getting the toddler to eat it!) can be a challenge. 

2. Customization

Parents appreciate something formulated precisely for their toddler’s needs. More than just hitting vitamin targets to prevent deficiencies, toddler milk is customized with a toddler’s higher fat and lower sodium requirements in mind. Toddler foods are formulated to support not only natural nutrition but also the right amount of protein, fiber and key micronutrients like omega-3 and iron.  

3. Convenience

It’s hard to argue against the convenience of adding one scoop of powder to two fluid ounces of water or a pouch that provides 4 food groups with key vitamins and minerals. Especially compared to the preparation involved with other nutritious complementary foods such as broccoli, rice, or eggs. At home innovation doesn’t stop there.  Many toddler milk formulas are so versatile; they can even be added to things parents may already be preparing like porridge, pancakes or smoothies.

Key Nutrients to Add

1. Iron

Iron has many roles in the body. It helps red blood cells and muscle cells move oxygen to where it’s needed through its ability to bind to hemoglobin and myoglobin. Iron is also essential for making hormones and neurotransmitters, which are involved in brain development. A great compliment to an iron containing formulation is lactoferrin, a natural, biologically active milk protein fraction that supports iron binding & transportation. 

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps to maintain proper blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, which contributes to the formation and strengthening of teeth and bones. Research indicates that fortification of toddler milk with vitamin D can improve vitamin D status.

3. DHA 

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid involved in brain and retinal development by controlling signaling membranes in the nervous system and in photoreceptors. It’s a major component of neural cellular membranes in the form of phospholipids, and also plays a role in immune function. While DHA is present in breast milk, DHA levels are often low in toddlers. 

4. Calcium

Calcium is essential for strong bones and maintenance of teeth, among many other benefits to the body. Multiple studies show that calcium from milk is a high quality source of calcium. Milk calcium contains not only a calcium source but key trace minerals that provide a balanced micronutrient complex at similar level to the normal mineral composition of bone.   

Why Use a Custom Nutrient Premix?

Fortified toddler nutrition continues to grow across the European food and beverage market. A custom nutrient premix makes it simple to tap into this market. You can choose the exact combination and amounts of nutrients you need, consolidated into one blend for ease in production, purchasing, and warehousing. Microencapsulation can be used to prevent off-flavors and ingredient interactions. Beyond vitamins and minerals, other ingredients that can be added include proteins, amino acids, fiber and more. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with our team today. 


Euromonitor, Datagraphics: Milk Formula in Western Europe, January 2020
Mintel, The Future of Baby Food & Milk: 2020, January 2020
Mintel, Enhance child health with specialized nutrition, July 2020
Mintel, Explore a wider repertoire of functional baby food, May 2019

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