Our dietitian, Ms Tan Shi Ling, weighs in on this topic.
Many parents still feed their 1 to 2 year olds formula milk. According to our dietitian, most parents perceive formula milk to be more nutritious than cow’s milk.
“We also came across parents who choose to continue with formula because their children preferred the taste of it. It could also be that parents are not aware that formula milk is optional after the age of one,” explained Ms Tan Shi Ling, our resident dietitian.
According to Shi Ling, the main nutrients found in most milk, both formula and ‘fresh’ milk are protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B2 and D. Both types of milk are usually fortified with a variety of other nutrients although formula milk may contain a wider spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
“A typical can of toddler formula milk usually contains Vitamins A, D, E, K, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, Folic acid, Pantothenic acid, B12, Biotin, Choline. Minerals includes calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, Iron, copper and zinc.”
Toddler formula is popular because it also contains DHA and Choline, she added.
A well balanced diet is the key to ensure your child gets all the nutrients he/she needs, in addition to milk once the child grows past his/her first birthday. According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), children between six months to two years of age require about 750ml of milk a day.
“Any more than the recommendation may lead to too much caloric intake and may decrease their appetite for the other foods required for growth,” Shi Ling explained.
When giving cow’s milk, Shi Ling stresses that parents should take full cream milk. “Children under two years old need extra fat in their diet to support their developing brains. They also have high energy requirement and should not be taking low fat and skimmed milk.”
There are however some special circumstances where toddlers will benefit from formula milk.
“Toddlers should continue on formula milk if they have medical conditions like anaemia or iron deficiency, inflammatory bowel disease or liver disease. And if the child is not growing at the expected rate, they should be put on formula milk as well.”
As a general guide, Shi Ling advises that the choice of milk to feed is dependent on toddler’s needs. Taking a closer look at the nutrition label would be a start to help guide parents on which formula to choose.
Article contributed by Ms Tan Shi Ling, a dietitian based at Mount Alvernia Hospital. Click here to learn more about our Nutrition and Dietetic services.