We keep hearing about the mini-kerfuffle launched by food writer Marion Nestle in response to manufacturer Mead-Johnson’s new chocolate and vanilla-flavored toddler formulas. At Jolly Tomato, we’re primarily looking out for kids ages 2 to 16, and thus we aren’t spending a lot of time talking about formula. But since the product (Enfagrow) is meant for toddlers ages 12 to 36 months, which covers some of our territory, we wanted to get out there on record to say a big fat “no.” Just… no.
First of all, does your little one really need a “toddler formula?” Probably not, even if he or she is an erratic eater. Most kids’ appetites fall off after the first year when their growth slows. Even if they have strange or monolithic food habits, they are probably doing just fine. (See Should My Kids Take Vitamins? in our Articles section.)
Second, even if your kids need the added nutrition, do you really want them to get it this way? It seems to cater to those with the least imagination — those who think that the only way to make a food appealing to kids is to make it sweet and chocolate-y. So your toddler won’t drink milk? Give her some yogurt, or grill a cheese quesadilla, or let her help you make a fruit smoothie.
We’re not the first to bash the whole chocolate formula idea (BlogHer gives a pretty good rundown of who’s been ahead of us) and we certainly won’t be the last. However, let’s be clear on one thing: It’s not cool to jump on the anti-chocolate-formula bandwagon if we give our kids the same amount of unnecessary sugar from other manufactured products (we’re looking at you, Trix Yogurt, with 14 grams of sugar in just four ounces). So let’s be consistent in saying “no” to this and other manufactured, sugar-ized foods that attempt to cater to young kids. As parents, we need to get out there and let manufacturers know when something is just plain wrong. We can all do better.