By Alicia Whatley

Research shows that kids’ beverage choices are just as important as food choices for healthy growth and development. Teaching healthy beverage choices at a young age can help ensure healthy choices in the future.

To guide healthy beverage choices for children, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, America’s Pediatric Dentists, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association have formed a campaign called Healthy Drinks, Healthy Kids outlining the consensus on recommendations from pediatric healthcare professionals.

Recommendations for all children include reducing drinks high in sugar and increasing water intake, with specific recommendations outlined for children age 5 and under. Children age 5 and under should avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks, flavored milks, non-dairy/plant-based milks, transition formulas, and low-calorie sweetened drinks.

Healthy Drink, Healthy Kids outlines specific recommendations for children by age:

  • 0-6 months: Breast milk or infant formula provide the proper nutrition and fluids for babies.
  • 6-12 months: Breast milk or infant formula can still be the main contributor for fluids and nutrition. As solid foods are introduced, try giving small sips of water with food to teach cup-drinking skills and get them used to the taste.
  • 12-24 months: As babies begin to eat more solid food, plain whole milk and larger quantities of water can be introduced. Small amounts of 100% fruit juice can be used to meet daily fruit intake recommendations- no more than ½ cup.
  • 2-3 years: Begin to transition to plain, fat free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk. Increase daily water intake to meet fluid needs- up to 4 cups per day. Continue to provide 100% fruit juice in limited quantities.
  • 4-5 years: Continue to increase water intake up to 5 cups per day. Fat free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk can be provided. Continue to provide 100% fruit juice in limited quantities.

As you are making decisions for your child, it’s important to consult your child’s pediatrician for specific dietary requirements or preferences. Find more information about the Healthy Drinks, Healthy Kids campaign.