Healthy Eating Research has issued a consensus recommendation for healthy beverages for children aged young than 5 years. The statement was created via a collaboration between American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and American Heart Association.
The statement offered guidance for all children aged 5 years or younger; children aged 0 to 6 months; aged 6 to 12 months; aged 12 to 24 months; and 2 to 5 years.
For children aged 0 to 6 months, the recommendations state that babies only require breast milk and infant formula to get the correct fluid intake and proper nutrition. Once a child is aged 6 to 12 months, parents can start offering some water once solid foods have been introduced into the diet. The amount of water should be only a few sips at meal times. The recommendations stress that children aged younger than 1 year should not be given juice and that 100% fruit juice has no nutritional benefit over whole fruit.
Once a child is aged 12 to 24 years, parents can add whole milk to their child’s beverage choices. Water should also be added for hydration. A small amount of 100% fruit juice is okay. And then when a child is aged 2 to 5 years, milk and water should be considered the go-to beverages for the child. The milk should be changed from whole milk to a lower fat option such as skim or 1% milk.
For all children aged 5 years or younger, the recommendations say that parents should avoid giving their children flavored milks like chocolate milk, toddler formulas, non-diary milks such as almond or oat, drinks containing caffeine, and sugar- or low-calorie sweetened beverages.
The recommendations are available in an easy-to-read chart to give to parents.