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Beverage time for kids

It's never too soon to teach kids healthy habits, including drink choices. For kids under age 5, the best choices are simple: water and milk.

That's because:

  • Water is a vital nutrient. And it doesn't contain added sugars, which can contribute to health problems as kids get older.
  • Milk provides other key nutrients, like calcium, that growing bodies need.
  • Toddlers who drink water and milk may learn to prefer these healthy beverage choices for years to come. That's a great habit to start!

Go easy on fruit juice

Even 100% fruit juice is best enjoyed in moderation. That's because it isn't as nutritious as whole fruit, which contains beneficial fiber. Whenever you can, it's better to offer your child whole fruit instead of fruit juice.

Let's face it, kids (and grownups) love fruit juice. So if you give your child 100% fruit juice, be sure to keep it to less than 4 ounces per day.

Try to avoid these drinks when you can

It's best to avoid giving toddlers drinks that have sugar added to them. That includes:

  • Sweetened drinks, like fruit punch, sodas, sports drinks and sweetened water.
  • Flavored milks, like chocolate or strawberry milk.

There are two main concerns with sweet beverages:

  • Toddlers may develop an early taste for them. Then you might have a hard time getting them to accept water and milk.
  • Sugary beverages can put kids at risk for weight issues, cavities and health problems such as type 2 diabetes.

What about caffeinated beverages?

It's best not to give young kids caffeinated drinks, such as soda or tea. They can cause issues like sleep problems, irritability and headaches.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Reviewed 8/17/2023

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