Ask-the-Expert: What do Moms Really Want from Nutritional Products for their Children?

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors



  • To better understand what influences mom’s nutritional choices for babies, toddlers and kids, dsm-firmenich conducted an in-depth study to help uncover new insights and breathe life into new innovations within the early life nutrition market.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably influenced the level of importance moms place on strengthening their child's immune system. But new concerns around mental health and sleep have also become more prevalent amongst the younger generation, opening up new opportunities to communicate the role of nutrition in supporting health and wellbeing in kids. 
  • In our latest Ask-the-Expert article, dsm-firmenich’s Global Market and Consumer Insights Manager, Africa Santos-Lorite, discusses new insights into the priorities of moms worldwide and how early life nutrition brands can create solutions that support childhood development. 


What do moms really want from their kids’ nutrition? That was the question at the heart of dsm-firmenich’s global usage and attitude survey, which surveyed mothers from across the world to discover their attitudes, behaviors and preferences when it comes to nutrition products for babies, toddlers and kids. The results revealed some surprising insights and highlighted a wide range of potential innovation opportunities for early life nutrition brands looking to grow their offering. 

We caught up with Africa Santos-Lorite, dsm-firmenich’s Global Market and Consumer Insights Manager, to learn more about the results of our 2021 research, how they compare to our last survey in 2018 and their implications for the early life nutrition market.

Tell us more about dsm-firmenich’s usage and attitude survey.

Our usage and attitude survey really sets out to look at nutrition through the lens of motherhood. By mapping out consumer perceptions, needs and preferences, the survey delivers new insights to help grow our customers’ brands. As part of the research, we conducted two surveys across Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia, USA, India, Germany and Spain with approximately 600 moms per market. The first survey was issued to 4,953 moms with kids aged 3 to 12 years old (hereafter referred to as ‘kids’)1, while the second polled 4,918 mothers with children aged 0 to 35 months (babies and toddlers)2.

What are the top concerns for mothers regarding nutrition for babies, toddlers and kids?

For moms across the board, it’s perhaps little surprise that immunity is a priority in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Developing a healthy immune system was a particular concern among mothers with babies and toddlers at 38%.

Other top priorities for mothers of babies and toddlers included ensuring healthy absorption of nutrients (26%) and meeting development milestones based on their child’s age (22%). For moms of kids, concerns included maintaining a healthy diet for the children (32%) alongside ensuring healthy teeth and bones (26%). 

What really makes these findings compelling is when we combine them with the health claims that appeal to moms of children in both age groups. Mothers of kids, for example, are not only searching for products that support immune health (43%), but those that also provide complete nutrition (46%) and support overall health (39%). Similarly, moms of babies and toddlers seek formula that claims immune health support (30%) with balanced nutrition (33%) and reassurance that the product will be gentle on a baby’s stomach (16%).

These health concerns and claims preferences open up significant innovation opportunities for early life nutrition brands, giving an indication of promising growth areas to not only support the needs of moms across the world, but give them peace of mind as well.

What factors are influencing the nutrition purchasing behaviors of mothers?

We all know that kids can be fussy eaters. Our ‘kids’ survey showed that mothers are actively researching nutritional information and looking at how they can boost the amount of fruit and veg in their kids’ diets to make sure they get the nutrients they need at mealtimes. When reviewing labels, moms of kids are on the lookout for all natural ingredients (76%), added nutrition (72%) and no preservatives (70%) in products. Moms of kids have high awareness of the various ingredients used in packaged food and beverages and consider the ingredients content of foods to be the most important factor at mealtimes. The results also revealed that moms are seeking essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, calcium, vitamin D, iron, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, omega-3s and probiotics. This suggests that supplements have a role in ensuring sufficient micronutrient intake.

For mothers of babies and toddlers, products that feature the best quality ingredients (33%), the highest levels of vitamins and minerals (31%) and scientific/clinical proof of efficacy (28%) are the most appealing to mothers. Milk powder in a tub or tin is the most commonly used format, however the survey revealed that moms are open to other formats such as ready-made liquid formula. As for formula brand choice, recommendations from doctors and nurses were the top purchasing driver (26%), followed by trust in the brand (26%) and the combination of ingredients (24%). 

What was the most interesting outcome of the consumer study?

An interesting learning for me was that mothers of kids across age groups are turning to health care professionals (HCPs) for nutritional advice and guidance and inherently trust their opinions, which in turn influences their purchasing decisions. Another finding of note was the different reasons for using infant formula across different regions. While breast milk is the gold standard for infant feeding, a key reason for formula feeding in the Asian market is to provide essential vitamins, while parents in the UK, US and Australia often turn to formula to share feeding duties.  

How have attitudes changed since dsm-firmenich’s 2018 research in this space?

Although the countries we researched in 2018 were slightly different from those surveyed in this project, there was no major shift in attitudes or trends. Some changes of note include the increased interest in claims for immune system support, closeness to breastmilk and gut health support among moms of babies and toddlers. Another difference was that more moms of kids named mental and immune health as top priorities for their children’s development. We believe this could be influenced by the pandemic, which saw a growth in demand for children’s mental health services due to breakdowns in routine or the loss of a family member.3

How can early life nutrition brands utilize these consumer insights for their benefit?

Tapping into the influencing potential of and building trust with HCPs, as well as enhancing the focus on immune health support are two key areas that brands can focus on to drive greater growth within the early life nutrition market. In taking this approach, brands can develop and deliver solutions that truly resonate with mothers in search of products that meet their child’s needs. 

What can dsm-firmenich offer to early life nutrition manufacturers regarding consumer-led product development?

At dsm-firmenich, we know that healthy lives start with quality nutrition which is why we offer insight-driven innovative nutritional solutions for every stage of your product’s development. Through a unique combination of high-quality ingredients and expert services, we support manufacturers from concept through to consumer, providing you with a reliable, end-to-end, purpose-led partner. Helping to support you in delivering science-backed nutrition and health products as well as quality customized solutions, we work in partnership with you to develop products that guarantee brighter lives for both mothers and their children. 

This takes more than ingredients; it takes a partner.

Find out how we can help you transform the latest consumer insights into purpose-led early life nutrition products.

Published on

07 July 2022


3 min read

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  1. dsm-firmenich (2021) Kids Nutrition: Global Consumer Usage & Attitude Survey via The Leading Edge, n=4,953 [unpublished] 
  2. dsm-firmenich (2021) Infant & Toddler Nutrition: Global Consumer Usage & Attitude Survey via The Leading Edge, n=4,918 [unpublished]
  3. Abramson, A. Children’s mental health is in crisis, APA Monitor on Psychology, vol 53, no. 1, 2022, p.69.


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