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Healthy Eating by Shelby Shelby

Beverage Choice is Important to Child Health


            We all know that eating well is important for young children to grow, but did you know that their beverage choice is vital to health, too? A child’s beverage choice can support their growth by providing adequate hydration and nutrients, like calcium and vitamin D. However, some beverages, such as sugary beverages, may lead to negative consequences as a child grows. Sugary beverages include drinks sweetened with sugar, like colas, lemonades, fruit punch, kool-aid, and sports drinks. These drinks can lead to cavities, excess weight gain in children, and other serious health problems in adulthood, like weak bones and possibly diabetes and heart disease.

Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 13% of the beverages consumed by children ages 2-5 yrs are sugary drinks. To help address this issue, a panel of experts from four leading healthcare associations (The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Heart Association) came together to develop recommendations that help parents know which beverages should be offered to young children ages 0-5 years.

The new recommendations are listed in the table below. To read the new guidelines in their entirety follow the link: .


Recommended Beverage

0-6 months

- Breast milk or infant formula

6-12 months

- Breast milk or infant formula

- Sips of water once solid foods introduced (1/2-1 cup daily)

12-24 months

- Whole milk (2-3 cups daily)

- Plain water (1-4 cups daily)

- Small amount of 100% juice (up to ½ cup daily)

2-3 years

- Skim or 1% milk (up to 2 cups per day)

- Plain water (1-4 cups daily)

- Small amount of 100% fruit juice (up to 1/2 cup daily)

4-5 years

- Skim or 1% milk (up to 2.5 cups daily)

- Plain water (1 ½ to 5 cups daily)

- Small amount of 100% fruit juice (up to ¾ cup daily)

All children 5 and younger should avoid:

- Flavored milk or milk alternatives (made from plants)

- Toddler formulas

- Caffeinated drinks

- Sugar-sweetened beverages

- Beverages sweetened with artificial sweeteners


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