Diet during early childhood plays a fundamental role in child development and the prevention of multiple diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and dental caries. In addition, it lays the foundations for a child’s dietary patterns throughout his life as it influences the quality of his diet in adulthood, as revealed by a study conducted at the Nestle Research Center.
Therefore, it is important to establish healthy eating guidelines from the first months, paying special attention to the drinks consumed by children at this stage.
Recommended drinks for children according to their age
In this regard, experts from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Heart Association explain which drinks children should consume, and which ones to avoid, depending on their age.
Babies from 0 to 6 months
At this age, the quintessential drink is breast milk as it provides the baby with all the nutrients it needs to grow up healthy and strong, while keeping it well hydrated. In cases where it is not possible to bet on exclusive breastfeeding, formula milk can be introduced. At this stage it is recommended to avoid any other drink, including water.
Babies from 6 to 12 months
In this period it is recommended to continue betting on breast milk or formula as the baby’s main food. However, you can also introduce other drinks such as water, between 4 and 8 ounces a day, preferably together with solid foods to keep them well hydrated and help them to better digest.
Introducing plain pasteurized milk is not recommended as it increases the baby’s risk of intestinal bleeding from the digestive tract and does not actually meet their nutritional needs during this stage. Vegetable milks and natural juices are also not recommended due to their high sugar content, which increases the risk of childhood obesity.
Children from 1 to 2 years
Between 12 and 24 months, experts advise the daily consumption of between one and four cups of water, approximately between 8 and 32 ounces, to keep the child well hydrated, although it should be noted that this amount may vary depending on the climate, diet and the level of children’s activity. Also recommended is the introduction of two or three cups, between 16 and 24 ounces, of pasteurized milk without flavor and preferably low in fat since it is an important source of calcium, phosphorus and vitamins A, D and complex B.
The limited consumption of 100% natural fruit juices at approximately half a cup a day is recommended, and instead it is advisable to bet on the whole fruit. This is because juices increase the risk of tooth decay and childhood diabetes. Likewise, it is advisable to avoid flavored milks and growth formulas, sugary and low-calorie drinks such as soft drinks and vegetable milk, if it is not medically indicated by an intolerance or vegan diet.
Children from 2 to 5 years old
Between the ages of 2 and 3, the consumption of between one and four cups of water, approximately between 8 and 32 ounces, per day is recommended, a measure that may vary depending on the season and the level of children’s activity. Also, experts advise keeping the consumption of about two cups or 16 ounces of pasteurized milk without flavor, preferably low fat, since it is an important source of energy and provides a large amount of protein.
At this age, the restriction in the consumption of 100% natural fruit juice at half a cup per day is maintained, recommending the inclusion of the whole fruit since it is richer in fiber and provides less sugars and calories. Instead, it is recommended to avoid the consumption of sugary and low-calorie beverages that increase the risk of obesity and chronic diseases, as well as flavored milks, growth formulas, vegetable milk and caffeine-based beverages since their Effects could cause long-term health problems in children.