Early childhood nutrition 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 foundation for children’s dietary patterns throughout their lives, as it influences the quality of their diet in adulthood, as revealed by a study conducted at the Nestlé Research Center.
Therefore, it is important to establish healthy eating guidelines from the first months, paying special attention to the beverages consumed by children at this stage. In this sense, 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, according to their age.
Recommended and non-recommended drinks for children according to their age
Babies from 0 to 6 months
At this age the drink for Excellence is breast milk as it provides the baby with all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong, while keeping it well hydrated. In cases where it is not possible to opt for 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, other beverages such as water can also be introduced, between 4 and 8 ounces a day, preferably along with solid foods to keep them well hydrated and help them digest better.
It is not recommended to introduce plain pasteurized milk as it increases the baby’s risk of intestinal bleeding from the digestive tract and does not really meet their nutritional needs during this stage. Plant-based 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 old
Among the Between 12 and 24 months, experts advise daily consumption of between one and four cups of water, approximately between 8 and 32 ounces, to keep the child well hydrated, although it is worth noting that this amount can vary depending on the climate, diet and child activity level ill. The introduction of two or three cups, between 16 and 24 ounces, of unflavored pasteurized milk and preferably low-fat is also recommended, since it is an important source of calcium, phosphorus and vitamins A, D and B complex.
It is recommended to limit the consumption of 100% natural fruit juices to approximately half a cup a day, and instead it is advisable to bet on whole fruit. This is because juices increase the risk of dental caries and childhood diabetes. Likewise, it is advisable to avoid flavored milk and growth formulas, sugary and low-calorie drinks such as soft drinks and vegetable milk, if it is not medically indicated due to an intolerance or a vegan diet.
Children from 2 to 5 years old
Between 2 and 3 years old, it is recommended to consume between one and four cups of water, approximately between 8 and 32 ounces, per day, a measure that may vary depending on the season and activity level of the child. Likewise, experts advise keeping the consumption of about two cups or 16 ounces of unflavored pasteurized milk, preferably low-fat, since it is an important source of energy and provides a large amount of protein.
At this age, the restriction on the consumption of 100% natural fruit juice is maintained to half a cup a day, recommending the inclusion of whole fruit as it is richer in fiber and provides less sugar 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, non-dairy milk and caffeine-based beverages. as its effects could cause long-term health problems in children.