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Toddler milk can contain higher amounts of energy and sugar but less protein compared to regular cow’s milk and/or other milk alternatives, which can lead to an increased risk of unhealthy weight gain and tooth decay in children. 

Dr Robyn Littlewood, Chief Executive Officer of Health and Wellbeing Queensland and expert paediatric dietitian, said toddler milk was not needed as part of a regular healthy child’s diet. 

“Parents and carers often purchase toddler milk as a solution to fussy eating and to boost nutrition, however I want to reassure parents that it’s very normal for kids to refuse food and drinks a number of times before they decide what they will tolerate,” Dr Littlewood said.

“Introducing and re-introducing new foods and drinks is an important and normal part of a child’s learning and development, and requires patience and time. 

“It’s normal for parents to worry when their child refuses food. Children are discovering what foods they like and don’t like – they won’t know if you don’t try, and that can mean trying multiple times.”

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for babies until six months of age, and a combination of breastmilk and complementary foods until at least 12 months. 

After 12 months of age, it is recommended children eat a varied and nutritious diet rich in whole foods, including vegetables, fruits and cow’s milk or alternatives. 

“Only one in five children aged between 2 and 3 years in Australia eat the recommended daily intake of vegetables,” she said. 

“Children can get all the nutrients they need from a balanced diet rich in whole foods, especially vegetables, which provide them with a variety of benefits for their development.

“We encourage parents and carers to be role models for their kids with healthy eating, and encourage food in a friendly and fun way.

“This way, parents and carers can foster a positive love of vegetables. This not only helps in their nutritional intake but also in forming healthy eating habits early on. 

“Establishing good food behaviours and habits early on is so important. Even when you think kids aren’t watching, they are!”

If you are concerned about your child’s diet or eating behaviours, contact your GP or an Accredited Practising Dietitian. 

For more information about eating and physical activity tips for children, visit Growing Good Habits