Toddler Milk Controversy

A Beta Growing Up Nutritional A2 Toddler Milk Review

There is controversy about the need for Toddler Milks for little ones aged 1 to 3 years.

The primary concern raised is that toddler milks are lower in protein and higher in natural sugars than cow’s milk.  At Beta A2 Australia, we’d like to say YES that is absolutely correct, and there is a good reason for it.  We formulate our Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk to emulate human milk because we are supporting little humans to grow, it’s that simple.

There are many infant formula recommendations that say statements like:

  • Baby formula has added vitamins, minerals and fats that babies need, which they can’t get from normal cow’s milk [1].
  • Babies can’t digest and absorb cow’s milk as completely or easily as breastmilk or formula. That’s because the protein level in cow’s milk is too high for babies[1].
  • You shouldn’t give cow’s milk to your baby until your baby is over 12 months old[1].
  • The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comments are even stronger stating, “Before your child is 12 months old, cow’s milk may put him or her at risk for intestinal bleeding. It also has too many proteins and minerals for your baby’s kidneys to handle and does not have the right amount of nutrients your baby needs. [2]
 
The recommendations suddenly swap once a baby turns 12 months of age:
  • At 12 months old, your child can be introduced to cow’s milk[2].
  • Your baby doesn’t need formula after 12 months. This includes toddler or stage 3 formulas. At this age, toddlers should be getting most of their nutrition from solid food and can have cow’s milk as a drink [1].

This is at odds with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations which state “From the age of 6 months, children should begin eating safe and adequate complementary foods while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond [3].  The WHO is recommending human milk up to 2 years and beyond, which suggests consuming a toddler milk formulation based on human milk attributes makes a lot of sense.  This is further supported by the 2022 OzFITS report, which showed that 44% of Australian toddlers are still receiving breast milk[4].

As parents, we all recognise that a baby doesn’t reach 12 months and suddenly want to stop having milk, whether it be breast milk or formula, it’s a time of continual transition.  While that transition takes place, providing them with either breast milk or a substitute that emulates human milk as best it can, simply makes sense.

What is best as a toddler transitions? 

The Australian Government, Dept of Health and Ageing, National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) provides nutritional recommendations for vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins & carbohydrates for children in the two discrete age brackets of 6-12 months (Follow-On Formula) to 1-3years (Toddler Milk)[5].

Let’s look at Protein

The recommended ‘Adequate Limit’ (AL) of protein for a 6-12month is 14g/day[5]

The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of protein for a 1-3yr old is 14g/day[5]

The protein recommendations are the same for both age brackets, so suddenly increasing the amount of protein via cow’s milk input doesn’t make sense.

We need to remember that mother nature knows best, cow’s milk is designed for calves that need high protein levels for large amounts of activity in that first year of life.

          Regular cow’s milk contains 3.4g protein/100ml

          Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk contains 2.6g protein/100ml

As you know, if breastfeeding is not possible, a Follow-On formula is recommended to be used, as it accommodates the protein requirements of a baby 6-12 months old.  It makes sense to continue the use of a formula that offers a lower protein content as a toddler transitions to obtaining their protein needs from solid foods.  Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk offers lower levels of protein because we follow the scientific recommendations.  We support little toddlers to grow, not calves out in the paddock who must grow rapidly and move at speed to keep up with the herd.

Lactose, natural sugars in milk

Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk has no added sucrose (known as table sugar), as it only contains the natural sugar found in all mammalian milk, known as lactose.

Compared to milk from other mammals, human milk is considered unique in its high sugar content, with about 7.0g/100 ml lactose (7%)[6].  Cow’s milk contains on average 4-5% lactose and is actually less sweet than breast milk. Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler milk contains 7.4mg/100ml lactose (7.4%).  It is a similar sweetness to breast milk and therefore it will not encourage a sweetened palate in young children.

          Regular cow’s milk contains 4.8g Lactose/100ml

          Human milk contains on average 7.0g lactose/100ml

          Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk contains 7.4g lactose/100ml

 
Beta Growing Up Nutritional A2 Toddler Milk is Milk and More, combining the benefits of A2 Protein milk with vitamins, minerals, protein, essential fatty acids and prebiotics ….. now that’s a lot of more!

At Beta A2, our vision is simple, create a toddler milk which scientifically emulates human milk, and achieve this in the most natural way.  We know that the transition to eating solid foods can be challenging, so supplementing a toddler’s diet to ensure they are obtaining all the nutrients they require for normal growth and development, is vitally important.  Let’s tell you more.

Vitamin & Mineral Supplementation

Most adults these days understanding the benefits of supplementing their diet with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, why should toddlers miss out? 

Why is the Toddler period of 12-36 months so important:

  • Rapid growth & development[7]
    • 25% gain in height
    • 50% gain in weight
  • Means increased nutritional needs, some even more than adults relatively need[7].
    • 5.5 x Iron per kg compared with adults
    • 7.0 x Vitamin D per kg compared with adults
  • Food habits are not yet well formed
    • Small portion intake
    • Often fussy eating

 

The table below compares Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler milk with full cream cow’s milk. 

Full cream milk is a wonderful drink, full of nutrition, but there’s more to the story.

More is not necessarily better and there are vital nutrients that milk does not offer in adequate amounts.

 

Iron Demands

Toddlers require 5.5 x Iron per kg compared with adults.

Iron deficient anaemia may result in delayed child development, behavioural problems and impaired cognitive function[7].

The 2022 OzFITS study revealed that of the Australian toddlers (1-3 years) reviewed, 44% were breastfed, 34.7% consume cow’s milk, 18.5% consume either formula or toddler milk, and 3.8% alternatives milks. 

This study showed that 25% of ALL toddlers are not obtaining the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for Iron of 4mg/day[5].  This is significant as iron helps move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and helps muscles store and use oxygen[8]. Iron also supports proper neurological development during infancy and early childhood[9].

The CDC explains that most newborns have sufficient iron stored in their bodies for about the first 6 months of life depending on gestational age, maternal iron status, and timing of umbilical cord clamping. By age 6 months, however, infants require an external source of iron apart from breast milk, as breast milk contains little iron[8].

If an infant is consuming an iron-fortified infant formula such as Beta Baby A2 Infant & Follow-On formulas (during the time before complementary foods are given), then additional iron supplementation is not necessary.  At about 6 months of age, a breastfed infant’s iron needs can be met through the introduction of iron-rich foods, iron-fortified cereals, or iron supplements[8].

          Human Breastmilk – 0.035mg/100ml Iron [10]

          Cow’s milk – 0.03mg/100ml

          Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk – 1.10mg/100ml

Replacing a 230ml serving of cow’s milk with Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler milk provides an additional 2.6mg of iron to their diet, more than ½ of the desired iron input of 4mg/day (EAR)[5].

These iron findings are reflective of the 2021 University of Queensland research study of Australian and New Zealand toddlers, which compared using toddler milk vs. cow’s milk. Results showed that after 12 months, 24% of participants using cow’s milk were below the iron EAR, while only 1.5% had intakes below the iron EAR when consuming toddler milk [11].

 

Impact of Vitamin D

Low vitamin D can cause rickets, poor growth, and an increased risk of acute respiratory infections and atopic sensitisation[11]

A UK-based theoretical study of toddler milk consumption compared with cow’s milk showed that before the study 95.2% of subjects had Vitamin D intakes less than the EAR.  After the simulation, this was reduced to 4.9% when consuming toddler milk[12].

Another UK-based study compared toddlers consuming fortified milk (toddler milk) vs cow’s milk.  Results showed that 92% of toddlers had a Vitamin D intake less than the EAR when consuming cow’s milk alone, while only 1% were below the EAR when consuming fortified milk[13].

          Cow’s milk – 0.01ug/100ml

          Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk – 0.83ug/100ml

Replacing a 230ml serve of cow’s milk with Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler milk provides an additional 2.0ug of Vitamin D to their diet, more than 1/3 of the Adequate Intake (AI) for Vitamin D of 5ug/day[5].

 

Essential Fatty Acids, Omega 3 & 6s

These are considered essential as the body needs them to function properly, and yet is unable to produce them on its own. That means they must be obtained from foods[14].  Fatty acids are important for a toddler’s overall health, in particular brain health[15]. 

230ml of Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk provides almost ½ of a toddler’s daily needs of Omega 3s and ¼ of their daily Omega 6 needs[5].

Prebiotics for Little Tummy Health

Vegetables, fruits and legumes in a well-balanced diet provide a source of prebiotics and fibres which helps healthy, protective bacteria to flourish. Prebiotics of FOS and GOS have been strategically added to Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk to help feed and support the growth of healthy bacteria needed for a toddler’s strong gut microbiome[16], especially for those that may be fussy, and avoiding fruit and vegetables.

          Cow’s milk – 0mg/100ml

          Beta Growing Up A2 Toddler Milk – 500mg/100ml

At Beta A2 our vision is simple, provide a toddler milk which scientifically emulates human milk, and achieve this in the most natural way.  Beta Growing Up Nutritional Toddler Milk is Milk and More, combining the benefits of A2 Protein milk with vitamins, minerals, protein, essential fatty acids and prebiotics ….. now that’s a lot of more…. and now you understand why! 

[1] Raising Children. Infant formula and bottle feeding. https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/breastfeeding-bottle-feeding/bottle-feeding/infant-formula

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nutrition. Cow’s milk and milk alternatives. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/cows-milk-and-milk-alternatives.htm

[3] World Health Organisation – Breast Feeding https://www.who.int/health-topics/breastfeeding

[4] Moumin NA, Netting MJ, Golley RK, Mauch CE, Makrides M, Green TJ. Usual Nutrient Intake Distribution and Prevalence of Inadequacy among Australian Children 0-24 Months: Findings from the Australian Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (OzFITS) 2021. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 25;14(7):1381. doi: 10.3390/nu14071381. Erratum in: Nutrients. 2023 Feb 24;15(5): PMID: 35405994; PMCID: PMC9003444.

[5] Australian Government, Dept of Health and Aging, National Health and Medical Research Council.  Nutrient Reference Values for Australia & NZ

[6] The Importance of Lactose in the Human Diet: Outcomes of a Mexican Consensus Meeting Nutrients. 2019 Nov; 11(11): 2737. Published online 2019 Nov 12. doi: 10.3390/nu11112737

[7] The role of toddler milks (YCF) in early childhood nutrition.  Peter SW Davies, Hon Prof of Childhood Nutrition – Centre for Children’s Health Research.  The University of Queensland.  Infant Nutrition Council Presentation 2021

[8] Iron deficiency in children: prevention tips for parents, Mayo Clinic.  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/iron-deficiency

[9] Iron – Breastfeeding. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/iron.html

[10] Qasem WA, Friel JK. An Overview of Iron in Term Breast-Fed Infants. Clin Med Insights Pediatr. 2015 Sep 23;9:79-84. doi: 10.4137/CMPed.S26572. PMID: 26448697; PMCID: PMC4583094.

[11] Amy L Lovell, Peter S W Davies, Rebecca J Hill, Tania Milne, Misa Matsuyama, Yannan Jiang, Rachel X Chen, Trecia A Wouldes, Anne-Louise M Heath, Cameron C Grant, Clare R Wall, Compared with Cow Milk, a Growing-Up Milk Increases Vitamin D and Iron Status in Healthy Children at 2 Years of Age: The Growing-Up Milk–Lite (GUMLi) Randomized Controlled Trial, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 148, Issue 10, October 2018, Pages 1570–1579, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxy167

[12] Eussen SR, Pean J, Olivier L, Delaere F, Lluch A. Theoretical Impact of Replacing Whole Cow’s Milk by Young-Child Formula on Nutrient Intakes of UK Young Children: Results of a Simulation Study. Ann Nutr Metab. 2015;67(4):247-56. doi: 10.1159/000440682. Epub 2015 Oct 23. PMID: 26492377

[13] Sidnell A, Pigat S, Gibson S, O’Connor R, Connolly A, Sterecka S, Stephen AM. Nutrient intakes and iron and vitamin D status differ depending on main milk consumed by UK children aged 12-18 months – secondary analysis from the Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children. J Nutr Sci. 2016 Jul 29;5:e32. doi: 10.1017/jns.2016.24. PMID: 27547395; PMCID: PMC4976118.

[14] Healthline 10 Foods High in Omega 6 and what should you know. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/omega-6-foods#How-much-omega-6-do-you-need?

[15] Healthline – Should Kids Take Omega 3 supplements. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/omega-3-for-kids

[16] Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and Galactooligosacharides (GOS) Increase Bifidobacterium but Reduce Butyrate Producing Bacteria with Adverse Glycaemic Metabolism in healthy young population 2017 Sep 18; 7(1):11789. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-10722-2.