Pros: Helps our son to get nutrition needed to grow
Cons: Addictive and costly.
My son has always been on the skinny side since birth, never had "baby fat" and ranged around the 25 percentile in weight. He also was breastfed the first year of his life. At his year and a half well-care check-up the doctor noted that he was in the 5th percentile for his weight. She said that at least he was still on the scale for what is considered a healthy weight. Three months later we had him weighed and he had not gained much at all. He just wasn't eating much at all and I was noticing that he wasn't growing like he used to, either. Then, we got the recommendation of supplementing his diet.
We only give him Pediasure in the morning before he goes to daycare and gets breakfast there. The first weeks our son was on Pediasure, he actually began to eat more at mealtimes. We were thrilled!
After gaining some good weight we thought that we could stop using it. We found out that not only was our son growing physically, but mentally too, as he would call out in his sweet little voice "pedyah (pause) shir" over and over if we didn't give him any in the morning. After we'd recover from our melting hearts, we relented and gave him his "pedyah (pause) shir" for the morning. It was like his morning coffee, he's addicted to Pediasure! My husband has recently started calling it Pedia-crack, so now our son who is now about 2 1/2 years old, calls it "pedyahshirck" (no pause anymore).
Since he started to use Pediasure, our son has gone from 23 lbs to 28 lbs. He still has spans of time where he just won't eat much of anything, but at least he gets his can of Pediasure in the morning. He is one of the tallest kids at daycare in his age group and he is starting to get a belly on him too, which helps keep his 2T pants falling down(his 18 month old pants were getting way too short, but still fit).
The cost can be a bit prohibitive at $10.50 for a case of 6 (8 fl. oz.) cans. That's $1.75 per can. When I was working a very minimal part-time we were eligible for WIC and with a doctor's prescription, WIC would cover the cost of the Pediasure. Now that I am working full-time and not eligible for WIC, we will probably look for cheaper alternatives to Pediasure (liked the powered instant breakfast drinks), and hopefully wean our son off the Pediasure. Also, Walmart in our area used to sell their spinoff version of Pediasure with the Parent's Choice label, which was about $3-4 less for a case. However, they no longer have this alternative on the shelves at the local Walmart.
Nutritionally, a Pediasure can has 237 calories (labeled energy on the can, 7.1 g protein, 11.8 g fat, 26g carbohydrate l-carnitine 4mg, taurine 17mg, packed with many essential vitamins and minerals, and water 200g. Not surprisingly, the top of the main ingredients is water, followed by suger (sucrose), maltodextrin (corn), sodium caseinate, high-oleic safflower oil, soy oil, fractionated coconut oil (medium-chained triglycerides), and whey protein concentrate.
The Pediasure can also touts that it "contains 100% or more of the NAS-NRC Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs)for protein, vitamins and minerals: -In 1000ml (approx. 34 fl oz) for children 1 to 6 years of age; -In 1300ml (approx. 44 fl oz) for children 7 to 10 years of age". When I first read this I didn't quite comprehend it in relation to what I thought was a complete, balanced nutrition drink. After I read it again, my interpretation reads that my 2 1/2 year old has to drink a little over 4 cans of Pediasure a day to reach 100% of the RDAs in his diet through Pediasure. From what I gather, drinking one can(nor even 3 cans) of Pediasure a day is not a complete diet.
Pediasure is lactose free, which they say makes it easily digested. However, it is not for children with galactosemia (lacks the enzyme to convert galactose into glucose; galactose in the bloodstream is like poison). Makes me wonder what ingredient beside lactose-type products would have galactose, since Pediasure claims to be lactose free.
Pediasure also states that it can be used for tube-feeding, along with drinking it orally.
Pediasure comes in other flavors besides vanilla, like chocolate, strawberry and orange creme (which smells like an orange popsicle). Our son loves them all, but doesn't seem to have a preference.