toddler drinking milk

Fortified Toddler Milk: A Recipe for Success

Anyone with a toddler knows that keeping up with one can be a workout, for both you and the active adolescent. Optimal nutrition is the foundation for this period of high growth and activity in our lifecycles. Though they’re not babies anymore, their nutrient needs are still different from those of older kids or adults.


  • Fortified milk provides toddlers with all the nutrients they require, like vitamins and minerals.
  • Toddler milk can be customized to fit different needs.
  • Fortified milk is constantly innovating to keep up with the latest nutrition trends.
  • Toddler milk is a convenient way to add nutrients to a child's diet. 

What is Toddler Milk?

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.1 So, why exactly are parents reaching for toddler milk

Why Parents Buy Toddler Mills

1. Nutrient Deficiency Prevention

Like the adult who takes a multivitamin to be on the safe side, toddler milk 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. And toddler milk in flavors like vanilla can tempt even fussy eaters.

2. Customized to Nutrient Needs

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. The protein level can also be carefully controlled to help prevent overly rapid growth that may be linked to obesity later in life.2

3. Cutting Edge Nutrition

Parents are looking at the latest science, whether it’s probiotics, prebiotics, antioxidants, fatty acids like DHA, or plant-based proteins. Toddler milk is uniquely positioned to respond to new research findings and deliver the cutting-edge nutrition that parents want now.

Tune into this short video and product concepts from Kat Crozier on products that can help build healthy habits in early life. 

4. Convenience

It’s hard to argue against the convenience of adding one scoop of powder to two fluid ounces of water or having a ready-to-drink option on the go. Especially compared to the preparation involved with other nutritious complementary foods such as broccoli, rice, or eggs. In fact, toddler milk powder is so versatile it can even be added to things parents may already be preparing like pancakes or smoothies.

Download all our Volume 3 Product Concepts here!

Key Nutrients in Toddler Milk Formulations

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. Studies have shown that toddler milk fortified with iron has been found to result in higher body iron stores3, which can prevent iron deficiency later on. 

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.4

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. While DHA is present in breast milk, DHA levels are often low in toddlers. Formulas supplemented with DHA has been shown to result in positive developmental outcomes that are closer to exclusively breast-fed infants including cognitive function and immune responses.5


toddler reading book

4. ARA

ARA (arachidonic acid or AA) is an omega-6 fatty acid that is another a major component of neural cellular membranes. It’s present in the brain in similar quantities as DHA and is also found in breast milk. ARA is the precursor to several eicosanoids which regulate immunity and inflammation. The right balance of DHA and ARA is essential.6

5. Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates, such as inulin and oligofructose, which feed and maintain the good bacteria in the digestive tract. Research shows that the digestive system represents at least 70% of the body's immune system, prebiotics play a vital role in immune function.7 During exclusive breastfeeding, a baby relies on the prebiotics naturally present in breast milk, known as human milk oligosaccharides or HMOs. As breastfeeding is reduced, it becomes important for toddlers to consume prebiotics through their diet. 

Why Use a Custom Premix Solution in Toddler Milk?

Customized toddler nutrition has wide potential across the food and beverage industries. 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. Functionally optimizing ingredients for applications through technologies like microencapsulation, can prevent off-flavors, ingredient interactions as well as improve taste and texture. Beyond vitamins and minerals, other ingredients that can be added are fibers, proteins, amino acids, botanicals, and even gums. 

Learn more about Glanbia Nutritionals’ custom premix solutions and our range of Watson Functionally Optimized Nutrients to formulate or improve your next nutrient-dense, toddler-ready powder or RTD beverage formulation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

While all the essential nutrients are important for toddlers, some of the most important nutrients for toddlers’ growth and development are calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth, and iron and DHA for proper brain development. Adequate amounts of protein and B vitamins are also critical at this stage. Fortified cereals and toddler milks can help ensure these early-life nutrition needs are met.

almonds or cashews), grains (such as oats or rice), seeds (such as flax or hemp seeds), or another whole plant source. The starting material can either be soaked in water, ground into a slurry, and filtered to remove the insoluble fiber, or it can be ground into flour first before removing the insoluble fiber.

Next, water and other ingredients like flavors, sweeteners, vitamins, minerals, and thickeners are added. Finally, the plant-based milk is pasteurized and packaged. Some (like pea milk) are a good source of plant-based protein, while others (like oat milk) are known for their soluble fiber benefits. Manufacturers can also start with optimized ingredients to minimize any bitter plant tastes and ensure the smoothest texture.

Dairy is the main source of calcium in the American diet, making it the top food group for supporting healthy bones at all ages. Dairy is also a source of high-quality protein, with all the essential amino acids in the right proportions to meet the needs of the body—especially important for muscle building and maintenance for active, sports performance, and aging consumers. Dairy also contains several beneficial bioactive proteins such as lactoferrin, which supports healthy iron levels.

Dairy alternatives such as plant-based milks and plant-based yogurts are often fortified, making them a good calcium source for those with milk allergies or lactose intolerance. Some are also high in plant-based protein. In addition, both dairy and dairy alternatives are often fortified with vitamin D to improve calcium absorption. Dairy/plant-based milk blends are a trend that combine the high-quality protein of dairy with the phytonutrients and lower calories of plant-based milks.


1. World Health Organization. Breastfeeding. July 2015.
2. Campbell, KJ et al. Early Life Protein Intake: Food Sources, Correlates, and Tracking across the First 5 Years of Life. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2017. 
3-4. Akkermans, MD et al. A micronutrient-fortified young-child formula improves the iron and vitamin D status of healthy young European children: a randomized, double-blind controlled trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 105, Issue 2, February 2017, Pages 391–399.
5. Lien EL et al. DHA and ARA addition to infant formula: Current status and future research directions. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018 Jan;128:26-40. 
6. Hadley, KB et al. The Essentiality of Arachidonic Acid in Infant Development. Nutrients. 2016 Apr; 8(4): 216.
7. Vighi, G et al. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008 Sep; 153(Suppl 1): 3–6.

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