What’s the best drinks for kids? In 2019, the Healthy Eating Research (HER) convened four authoritative organizations: the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Cardiology to jointly release the Healthy Beverage Consumption in Early Childhood.

Judging from the data in the “Guide”, many American families have the same problems like giving the wrong drinks or didn’t give the necessary drinks. In fact, these situations are very common in other countries.

This “Guide” counts down 9 common liquid beverages, including water, 100% juice, original pasteurized milk, soy milk, sugar drinks, etc. And it also lists in great detail what children can drink and drink according to age groups. How much, how old cannot drink, why cannot drink, and other professional guidance and suggestions.

Summary of the Guide

  1. The most recommended liquid beverages for children are breast milk, infant formula, original pasteurized milk and water.
  2. Babies under 6 months can only drink breast milk or formula milk and do not need to add any liquid beverages, including water.
  3. Children from 6 to 12 months can drink a little water (approximately 4oz to 8oz per day) after adding complementary foods. Do not drink other liquid beverages.
  4. For children between 12 and 24 months, it is recommended to drink whole milk and boiled water. Drink 100% pure juice of no more than 4oz per day (without adding any additional ingredients like sugar, water, Artificial additives such as preservatives).
  5. For children aged 2 to 5, boiled water, low-fat/skimmed milk are the first choice, followed by a small amount of 100% pure juice.

4 Kinds of Recommended Drinks

Breast milk

Breast milk can provide strong immune protection for children. And its rich lactose can also promote infant brain development.

Breast milk is the perfect and most nutritious food for babies within 6 months. Even after 6 months, breast milk is still nutritious. Authorities around the world, including WHO, recommend that breastfeeding should be maintained for at least 6 months, and breastfeeding is recommended to be 2 years old and above.

Formula milk

If breastfeeding is not possible for some reasons, formula milk is also an option.


The child does not need to drink water before adding complementary food for 6 months old. After starting to add complementary food, the baby can drink some water appropriately.

The “Guide” also specifically pointed out that breast milk and formula milk already contains a lot of water, enough to meet the daily needs of baby under 6 months. The extra water is equivalent to reducing the baby’s milk volume, which will lead to malnutrition over time and may also cause a burden on the kidneys.

Original pasteurized milk

This kind of milk is pasteurized without adding sugar, artificial sweeteners or any flavoring agents. Common ones include whole milk, 2% reduced fat milk, 1% low fat milk, and skimmed milk. The children can start drinking this kind of milk after 1 year old.

The Drinks Not Recommended

Coffee-containing Beverages

Including coffee, tea, soft drinks (such as cola) and energy drinks.

Since the safe level of caffeine intake for children is still uncertain, and many caffeine-containing beverages do not indicate the specific content of caffeine, it is difficult to measure how much caffeine the child has consumed if they are allowed to drink.

The expert group recommends not to give caffeinated beverages to children under 5 years old.

Sugar and Sweetener Beverages

All sweet drinks with added sugar or sweeteners, such as fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweet coffee, sugary tea drinks, soda, carbonated drinks, milk tea, etc. As long as there is sugar in the ingredient list, they basically belong to sugar drinks.

In fact, in addition to the sugars naturally contained in staple foods, milk and other foods, the amount of extra sugar needed to added into the child’s body is zero. Too much sugar will endanger the child’s health.

For example:

  • Make children more likely to get tooth decay;
  • Interfere with the child’s normal diet and affect growth and development;
  • Children gradually develop “heavy tastes” and lose interest in natural foods;
  • The excessive intake of these sugars may eventually be converted into fat and accumulate.
  • As the fat piles up, the child will become obese. With obesity one after another, it is more likely to develop diabetes, dyslipidemia and other diseases.
baby drinks liquid beverages

Remember: The most recommended liquid beverages for children are breast milk, infant formula milk, original pasteurized milk and water.

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