PediaSure and other kids’ formula-type beverages make many promises to parents of picky eaters. They are fortified drinks and contain more vitamins and minerals than the average glass of milk. Some also might taste better to children. However, supplemental drinks designed for kids might not be the long-term answer you need for your child’s nutrition.
PediaSure is a kids’ supplemental beverage. Like drinks adults often consume when they are in a hurry or trying to replace a meal, PediaSure contains extra calories and protein as well as many vitamins and minerals. It comes in different flavors, such as chocolate and strawberry, and is available in different formulas. According to the PediaSure website, its products are recommended for general use for both toddlers and children starting at age 2. This does not mean you 1-year-old cannot drink them, but you need to check with your doctor first.
There are a few types of PediaSure. It is a sweet-tasting milk-like beverage, and some types are nutritionally similar to milk while others contain extra ingredients such as fiber and DHA. They vary in their calorie, fat and protein content. Surprisingly, however, the PediaSure website reports that its products generally contain between 30 percent and 40 percent of the daily recommended vitamin D intake. Dr. Ari Brown, co-author of "Baby 411," reports that a glass of milk contains around 25 percent of a 1-year-old’s vitamin D recommendation. This means PediaSure, which is considered a fortified beverage, still does not meet a 1-year-old's daily vitamin D requirement. Like most toddlers, even babies on the formula would require a vitamin D supplement.
Dr. Brown is not a fan of toddler formula-type drinks for several reasons. First, they are expensive. Compare a gallon of whole milk with a 12-pack of PediaSure, and you might reconsider your choice. While PediaSure is a rich source of nutrients like vitamins, minerals and protein, these nutrients should be plentiful in a diet that includes many kinds of foods. Teaching children to drink their calories and nutrients instead of eating them might set them up for bad habits later in childhood and life. If your child is not eating, giving her a filling beverage might make the problem worse. Dr. Brown advises avoiding PediaSure and other similar beverages unless your toddler is malnourished or excessively underweight. Even then, you should do so only under the guidance of his pediatrician.
If your child does not want to drink plain milk, or is not interested in food, try making your own version of a healthy milkshake. Milk blended with fruit and a few ice cubes makes a great mid-morning or afternoon snack. You also can try other tasty but wholesome milk alternatives such as flavored yogurts and soy or almond milk. As a last resort, Dr. Brown suggests flavoring your 1-year-old’s milk. However, before adding a large amount of chocolate powder, try just a spoonful of a fortified mix-in. This enhances the flavor without adding too much extra sugar.
- KidsHealth from Nemours: Nutrition Guide for Toddlers
- PediaSure.com: PediaSure FAQ
- “Baby 411”; Denise Fields and Ari Brown, M.D.; 2011