Toddler drinking milk

Growing Up Milk – Does Your Baby Really Need It?

There is plenty about entering the world of parenthood that can be confusing, especially about what is the best foods to feed our little ones. After all, proper nutrition is quintessential during an infant’s early years to keep them healthy.

If you have a baby that will be a toddler soon, you have probably wondered about follow-up formula and whether it is necessary for your baby or not. In this post, we will be telling you all you need to know about growing up milk.

Growing Up Milk - Does Your Baby Need It?

What is Growing Up Milk (Follow-up Formula)?

According to package labels, follow-on formula is supposed to support the transition from baby formula to solids. Some formulas suitable for months 12+ even promise to fill the gaps in a child’s eating plan.

Before we get into what the experts have to say about growing up milk, you need to understand that there is a difference between infant formula and growing up milk, aka follow-up formula.

The Difference Between Baby Formula And Growing Up Milk

Toddler formula is marketed for kids aged nine months to three years. It is relatively similar to baby formula and mostly consists of powdered milk, vegetable oil, and sweeteners. However, there is one major difference between the two.

Baby formula requirements, composition, and labelling are overseen by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). These requirements do not however apply to growing up milk which means the compositions are varied. Some formulas contain more fat, sodium, and sugar than baby formula, meaning it is not healthy to feed to kids.

Why Is Growing Up Milk So Popular?

The availability and promotion of growing up milk and breast milk substitutes has increased significantly over the years. Follow up milk is labelled and marketed as part of a child’s nutritional needs during the first few years of his or her lives, promising all kinds of development benefits. With similar logos, colour schemes and promotional copies appearing on labels of these products, indicating the different development stages, the market for growing milk has seen an alarming rise. 

A major cause of concern is the possible misuse of growing up milk because of ambiguity in branding and labelling, particularly with growing up milk being more affordable than baby formulas. Add on formula does not offer sufficient nutrition for babies during the first year of their lives, however many parents and caregivers are perceiving it to be interchangeable with baby formula 

What Do The Experts Say About Growing Up Milk?

The World Health Organization and Department of Health both make it clear that follow up milks are not necessary and that they have been created by companies to side step the rule of advertising baby formula in the UK. Promoting of, and information about how these products must be used can be confusing for new parents.

Here is what the experts have to say about growing up milk.

Little boy with milk moustache

World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization has strong views on the inappropriate promotion of certain foods and food substitutes for babies and toddlers. According to them the optimal infant and toddler feeding is breastfeeding from birth to six months and ongoing until two years or beyond alongside nutritionally suitable and safe supplementary foods from six months.

According to this article (011917_HKI_WHABrief_v3.indd (, promotion of foods for babies and toddlers is not appropriate if it:

  • Undermines recommended nursing practices
  • Is not contributing towards infant and toddler nutrition in the country
  • Undermines the use of nutritional local foods or home prepared meals
  • Sends a misleading, confusing or could result in inappropriate use

Direct quote from the article: 

“In May 2016, Member States adopted a new World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution that calls on countries to implement the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Guidance on Ending the Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children to further protect breastfeeding, prevent obesity and chronic disease, and promote a healthy diet. In addition, the guidance aims to ensure that caregivers receive clear and accurate information on feeding”.

NYU College of Global Public Health (NYU GPH)

According to this article (Toddler Formulas and Milks – Not Recommended by Health Experts – Mislead with Health Claims ( , formulas and milks contain labels that are misleading. They are marketed as toddler drinks which might confuse parents into thinking they are healthy or necessary.

Direct quote from the article:

“Our study builds on previous research demonstrating that manufacturers’ marketing practices may undermine the diets of very young children,” said Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH, assistant professor of public health policy and management at NYU College of Global Public Health and the study’s lead author”.

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

The EFSA share similar views of growing up milk than the WHO and NYU GPH as you can see from this article (’Growing-up’ formula: No additional value to a balanced diet, says EFSA | European Food Safety Authority ( that was published on the 25th of October 2013.

Direct quote from article: 

The use of milk-based “growing-up” formula does not bring additional value to a balanced diet in meeting the nutritional requirements of young children in the European Union, EFSA has said. EFSA’s scientific experts could identify “no unique role” for young-child formula (commonly called “growing-up formula”) in the diet of young children (those aged 1-3), concluding that it is no more effective in providing nutrients than other foods that constitute the normal diet of young children. The findings are contained in EFSA’s Scientific Opinion on nutrient requirements and dietary intakes of infants and young children in the European Union, requested by the European Commission”.

Child eating spaghetti

Does Your Child Really Need Growing Up Milk?

The answer is no. A toddler does not need toddler formula for healthy development or nutrition. Until your baby turns one, the best milk he or she needs is breastmilk or stage one baby formula. After your little one’s first birthday, all the necessary nutrients he or she needs should be derived from his or her foods.

You can continue with nursing, or give them full fat cow’s milk. Growing milk might promise to provide additional nutrients, however cow’s milk still is the best option for your child. Many parents who have toddlers that are fussy eaters, are concerned about whether their children are getting the essential nutrients for healthy development. It’s only natural that they want to give their child the best possible options. Instead of giving them growing up milk, rather give them a vitamin supplement that contains vitamins A, C, and D.

Why Is Cow’s Milk Essential for Toddlers?

Whatever your children drinks play an essential role in their overall health, and nowadays, parents have more choices than ever before. You will find a vast variety of options in the milk sections of your local supermarkets, including dairy substitutes. While this is useful for families with food intolerances and allergies, it can also make it harder to know which milk is the best option for your child.

Dairy milk offer vital nutrients which is beneficial for healthy development and growth, including:

  • Quality protein
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Phosphorus

Many kids have low levels of Vitamin D, an essential nutrient that is naturally produced from exposure to the sun. Kids with a vitamin D deficiency, particularly during their younger years, are sometimes prone to developing  a condition called rickets. This condition impedes growth and causes softening of the bones. Cow’s milk is the best way to help replenish vitamin D and plays a predominant role in keeping children healthy.

How Much Milk Does A Child Need for Healthy Development?

Full fat milk or water are the most suitable drinks to give to your toddler. You can also give him or her fruit juice, but make sure it is diluted well (ten parts water and one part juice) and it must only be offered with meals.

Cow’s milk must only be given to a baby after one year. When a child starts drinking milk, the best option is normal, pasteurized milk. Full fat milk is recommended for kids younger than two years, unless low fat milk is recommended due to a family history of obesity or heart disease.

Each child’s nutritional needs is not the same, however these are the recommended amounts of milk for supporting healthy growth and development in children:

  • Newborns (0-12 months) – baby formula or breast milk on demand.
  • 12-24 months – two to three cups of full fat dairy milk per day.
  • 2-3 Years – Up to two cups of low-fat or skimmed dairy milk per day.
  • 4-8 Years – Up to two and a half cups of low-fat or skimmed dairy milk per day.
  • 9-18 Years – Up to three cups of low-fat or skimmed dairy milk per day.

 When you child is diagnosed with a milk allergy, or has an issue with digesting lactose (sugar content in milk), or has any other dietary restrictions, it is best to talk to your pediatrician or registered dietician about the best options to provide your child with the necessary nutrients for them to stay healthy.


We hope this post about growing up milk has provided you with answers to the questions that you might have had about follow up milk and the nutrition requirements for children over one years old. According to the experts, your child does not need growing up milk and should get the required nutrients from his or her diet. 

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  1. I always thought that it was necessary, even my mother convinced me so many times that the food my daughter eats has enough and other times most natural nutrients. Thank you, this month is the last time I buy formula.

    • It is a pleasure Kamo, I was also under the impression that follow-on formula was essential until I did the research! I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to give it to your child every now and then but it’s certainly not needed.

    • I can’t believe that growing up formula is unregulated! That’s completely ridiculous! If the companies in this industry even care about children at all, they should be willing to be regulated.

  2. To be honest. I always thought that it was a must for the kids development. As for my son, my paed actually recommended that I have him drinking a specific milk. Fortunately it’s not formula that can be quite pricey. I take him for regular check ups and make sure that we are still on the right track with regards to what we feed him.

    • I also thought that follow up formula was important, but after researching for this post I’m seeing things differently.

      • Wow didn’t know this cos my bby is 11 months goin on 1 so was getn ready to purchase the num 3 infacare..thanks for the info Wil definately share with hubby

      • As I understand it you can switch over to cow milk as son as he is 1 year old.

  3. This article definitely provided the clarity I’ve been seeking. My daughter is 20 months old and I’ve really been debating if there’s a need for me to continue with follow up formula after she turns 2. This was insightful for sure. Thank you Lynne.

  4. Shupikai matenhese

    Thank u for such a great article am always motivated by your articles Lynne keep up the good work we learning a lot

  5. To think I was in panic mode because my son is drinking cows milk instead of follow up milk.
    Thank you so much for the clarity. I really learned alot and it’s nice knowing that the cows milk move wasn’t a mistake?

  6. My son is on nido nr 1 and I will give it to him until he is three years old and then nespray fortigrow till he goes to primary school. Growing up milk is absolutely necessary

  7. Tasneem Maganlal

    Both my kids switched to cow’s milk just before they turned one. They are both preemies and it was advised by their pead

  8. Seeing things alot different than before the article! Thanks for the info!

  9. Angelique de Swardt

    Very interesting we switched to groth milk a month ago, and baby sleeps alot better!

    • That’s great to hear!

      • Marcus Hendricks

        It differs from parent to parent I think. For us due to wifey haviyto go back to work after maternity leave we started baby on growing up milk and baby loved it. Especially when mum is tired or stressed out no breast milk rather a supplement that baba enjoys and supplies all nutrients baba needed.

  10. very insightful, didn’t know I can give a 1 yr old cows milk,and its much cheaper than formula

  11. my children thrived on the growing up milk.. and especially since they were picky eaters (and still are), i felt better knowing that they were still getting in vitamins etc. from the milk.

  12. Would love to win this. ?
    I would like to spoil my husband and baby girl.

    Daddy is so hard working

    • I’ve had the hardest time with food and growing up formula for my 1 year old.. His now 15 momths and still such a hassle with solids… Too much of formula was also giving him diarrhea and it was so bad he had to be admitted… Refusing solids.. Growing up Formula is not so important but I do feel some sort of milk intake for the day is necessary for healthy bones amd teeth… ???? Fingers crossed for the awesome giveaway… Luv clicks baby ?

      • You are so right Nasmira, dairy is very important for young kids. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having such a hard time with solids with your son!

  13. I want to say spoil, but I really need it for the kids especially for my 10 month old. Also my 16 year old has acne and bad eczema. Would really love to win

  14. This is such an informative article, thank you.

  15. Thank you for sharing Lynne. As always, very informative.

  16. I’d love to spoil my daughter with some girly items. She is becoming a young lady.

  17. Sibongile Skosana

    Unfortunately for me, my 4 year old son can’t stand drinking milk(any kind). Milk is for eating cereal and that’s it.

    • I was the same as a child and I still am, I don’t drink milk on its own. I have it in coffee and my cereal. I do love flavoured milk though, like chocolate milk. I’m also loving adding Lifegain to milk and then it is lovely

  18. Thanks for sharing

  19. This is a must read ,now i also understand why my late motger dont like milk and yet it is important.this post make me realise each child is fuzzy in different things …milk is one thing we all need

  20. thank you for sharing this

  21. Very helpful thank you I bought follow up formula once but as soon as it was done we started with cows milk and he absolutely loves the cows milk

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