Drinks and Kids. They're a common topic of concern for parents. Should they stick with only giving their baby breastmilk or formula? When is juice okay? When should you transition to cow's milk? How much of each should you give? I've got all the details on which drinks for kids are best below!
For the first 6 months of life, your baby should only have breastmilk or formula. There is no need to give additional water, mix anything else into their bottles, or supplement with cow's milk.
6 months-1 year
Once you start feeding your baby solid foods at 6 months, you can start introducing water at meals in addition to their breastmilk or formula. It isn't necessary, but it is a way for them to learn how to drink from a cup without spilling breastmilk all over them.
At one year, you can start transitioning to milk. You should only be giving your baby whole milk, as they need a high fat diet to help promote brain development. Keep the amount to around 16oz, or two cups per day. If you want to give your baby a milk other than cow's milk, learn about the best milk for babies here.
Starting at one year, it is ok to incorporate a little juice into your baby's diet if you feel the need. Don't give more than 4oz per day if you do provide it. Know that it is not a nutritional recommendation, and hasn't been for awhile, to provide juice to kids. There is nothing in juice that you can't get from a whole piece of fruit. You will get more nutrients from the same fruit if eaten as the actual fruit and not just the juice. If you do give juice, water it down as much as you can. Try to avoid giving it for as long as possible, though!
At one year, it is ok to start providing water throughout the day. Allow your baby to sip on it while not at the table, and encourage them to drink enough to remain hydrated. All other drinks should be consumed at the table with meals or snacks, but water is fair game throughout the day and should be encouraged!
2-6 years old
At 2 years old, continue to give 16 oz, or two cups, of milk.
Once your baby is 3, you can start increasing the amount of juice to 6oz if you are choosing to give juice.
Continue to provide water throughout the day. Encourage your child to drink enough that they remain hydrated.
7 years old
At 7, it is ok to increase the amount of juice per day to 8oz, or one cup. Do not give more than one cup in any given day. The amount of milk you should provide remains the same.
What about other drinks for kids?
Your child doesn't need anything other than milk, juice, or water throughout their childhood. It isn't necessary to introduce anything like sports drinks or sodas. While juice isn't recommended anymore as a nutritional drink, it does still have some nutrients and is a better choice than soda and sports drinks. Take advantage of any enjoyment of juice your kids have and keep it to that as long as possible!
Being realistic, you won't be able to keep it to milk, juice, or water for your child's entire childhood, but it is the goal. If you hold off on introducing any other drinks as long as you can, it will serve your child well. Start young to help train their palettes!
Water, Juice, and Milk are the only drinks that your child needs throughout childhood. Once your child starts solid foods, you can gradually start introducing drinks beyond breastmilk or formula based on the amounts recommended above. Water is the only drink that should be provided ad lib throughout the day. Start training your child's palette early so they don't expect drinks other than milk, juice, and water!
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