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Is Growing Up Milk or Follow Up Milk A Dietary Need For Toddlers?


(updated article)

Big News in Europe: Growing Up Milks or Follow Up Milks are:

not considered an essential nutritional drink for toddlers.

(Sigh of relief). I didn’t mess up.

When I had my last two babies in France and they approached their first birthdays, it was time for them to transition from breastfeeding to drinking full fat whole cow’s milk. Or so I thought.

At the grocery store, in the baby food/milk area I was faced with so many milk formula choices to give my one year-old. And none of these choices included regular good old milk. I was perplexed.

Laits de croissance or follow-up milks (growing up milks) are the norm here for French babies. Pediatricians recommend new parents to move to these growing up milks when their infant grows into a toddler.

But my student and professional dietetic training in America told me otherwise.

So, I stuck with transitioning to a regular milk with all my kids. Turns out I was right.

EFSA, European Food Safety Authority, states that growing up milks are not nutritionally necessary for toddlers

The use of milk-based “growing-up” formula does not bring added 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 find “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. (story here)

Voila. Words from the EFSA, the leading authority on health and food safety in Europe.

Here is more on what to give your toddler to drink.

What type of milk should your toddler drink?

At around a year old your baby is ready to move to a new stage of milk.  If they are drinking baby formula it is time to change to a milk more adapted to their age.  Breastfed babies can continue to be breastfed with optional supplements of regular milk in a cup.  But what kind of milk should you serve to your growing toddler? In a previous article written here  we looked at the importance of whole cow’s milk at a year old.  If your child has allergies to dairy, you can talk to your doctor about giving other milk sources such as goat milk or soy milk.

If your growing toddler has a well-balanced, healthy diet adapted for their age they don’t need growing up milk

Why are growing up milks unnecessary?

Growing up milks cost (on average) 3 times more than cow’s milk, some have added sugars to make they more palatable, and the extra iron present is not well absorbed by the body. Their use is not recommended by the majority of scientific societies.

Growing up milks, or Lait de Croissance are not necessary for the proper growth of your toddler

However, if you are concerned that your toddler is not eating a healthy diet and you would like to give follow up milks for the extra nutrition, voice your concerns with your doctor.

Milk, provided at this age group, should be a supplement to your toddler’s diet.

Too much milk intake (more than 2 cups a day or half a liter) gives a lot of calories and takes hunger away from your child’s appetite. At one year old, with the okay from your doctor, you can switch over to whole cow’s milk (not skim milk).

For additional reading on lait de croissance, or growing up milks, you can also consult the World Health Organization position paper on this subject here. 

What are your thoughts?

If you have a story to tell, please share it with us.  Or got to the end and want to read more? I would love to share my professional and personal stories as a nutritionist and mom living in France, just ‘next door’ to Italy, my second heart home. You can follow me on Twitter, or sign up for article updates and newsletter by clicking the button below. Your email will always remain private and by subscribing you can download your free E-report on “10 Simple Ways to Eat Like the French Without Having a Food Snob Attitude.”

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Warmly, Mary



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