Parenting in the Age of Nut Milks

Parents of toddlers are getting facts about increasingly popular nut milks and dairy substitutes from nonmedical influencers and bloggers

23-Oct-2023
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Parents of young children under age 5, interested in alternatives to dairy milk, like nut and rice milks, are finding information online, and almost half of the most popular bloggers on this topic were neither dieticians or medical professionals, according to research presented during the 2023 AAP National Conference & Exhibition at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Researchers of the abstract, “Milk Mania: Analyzing Online Information and Perception regarding Milk Alternatives for Toddlers,” studied the 145 most popular blogs for parents of children under age 5 on the topic of milk alternatives. They found that while many parents are seeking information online on the topic of alternatives for milk, 47% of the most popular bloggers on this topic were laypersons without medical training. Of the other bloggers, 32% were nutritionists or dieticians, 12% physicians or nurses, 5% holistic providers, and 4% PhDs and scientists.

“The large number of online blogs discussing dairy milk alternatives for toddlers suggests that this is an issue of great interest to caregivers, who may turn to blogs that provide unsupported information and nutritional recommendations about milk substitutes,” said lead author Kara Sangiuolo, a medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “I think that there is a major opportunity for pediatricians and pediatric nutritionists to enter the online space and provide more accurate, consistent information to support caregivers looking to transition their toddlers away from dairy milk.”

Of the popular blogs studied, bloggers were most likely to recommend soy milk (37%) and pea milk (17%) as the best milk alternatives, and the most common alternatives referenced were soy milk (84%), almond milk (79%), and rice milk (65%). However, 14 blogs recommended making homemade milks for toddlers, and two blogs claimed homemade milk as the best milk alternative.

“Several blogs included unsupported recommendations such as making unfortified homemade milks for growing toddlers. The lack of consistent information across blogs was concerning, and only half of all blogs discussed the nutrient compositions of dairy milk alternatives,” Sangiuolo said. “This reveals the need for greater dissemination of accurate nutritional recommendations regarding dairy milk alternatives from pediatricians and nutritionists. This information can be delivered online to reach caregivers and better promote the healthy development and nutrition of toddlers in early childhood.”

This research was supported by Cohen Children’s Medical Center in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and with the support of Dr. Andrew Adesman and Dr. Charles Schleien.

Study author Kara Sangiuolo, is scheduled to present her research, which is below, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, from 10-10:45 a.m. as part of the Council on Early Childhood Session. To request an interview with the authors, contact Ms. Sangiuolo at ksangiuolo@northwell.edu.

In addition, Ms. Sangiuolo is among highlighted abstract authors who will give a brief presentation and will be available for interviews during a press conference Sunday, Oct 22, from 8-9 a.m. in the National Conference Press Room, 102 AB During the meeting, you may reach AAP media relations staff in the press room.

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