You’re all familiar with Danger Baby by now, yes? My nearly 3 year old toddler has earned this nickname because he’s been feral since the womb. (He literally separated my ribs FROM THE INSIDE.) It’s a tall order keeping him alive and healthy, and this includes keeping an eye on what he’s drinking. Beverage consumption for children ages 0-5 can have a huge impact on a child’s health, according to groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
This post is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. All opinions are my own.
I want to begin this post by making sure you know I’m not here to shame anyone. I know as parents we all do the best we can with what we have, and I also know that many of us can do so much better once we are more informed.
So I want to share a little info with you all today about why it’s so important to be aware of your child’s beverage consumption, and to modify it- if needed- to be sure they are drinking what’s best for them given their age.
Let’s start with why we are talking about children’s beverage consumption now.
Aren’t there already beverage recommendations out there? Definitely. But, for the first time, Healthy Eating Research convened a panel with members of national health and medical associations- the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association– to review current recommendations and see where any gaps fell.
They put together a final consensus of recommendations that are specifically written to help establish healthy patterns in early childhood and prevent future health issues, like dental cavities and type-2 diabetes. They cover the entire 0-5 age range.
So what are the comprehensive children’s beverage consumption recommendations?
- All kids under 5 should avoid drinking flavored milk. Toddler formulas are also no-nos. Plant based/non-dairy milks are strongly discouraged unless you’re working with your medical provider to be sure your child is getting the vitamins they may miss from cow’s milk. Caffeinated and sweetened beverages, including diet or stevia-sweetened drinks should also be off the list of what you’re serving.
- Babies 0-6 months only need breast milk or formula.
- Babies 6-12 months, can have water in addition to the breast milk or formula.
- 12-24 months: Whole Milk, water and small amount of 100% fruit juice to avoid added sugars (fruit is preferred).No more than 4 oz of 100% fruit juice per day.
- 2 – 5 years old: Milk (skim or 1%) and water, small amounts of 100% fruit juice. No more than 4 oz of 100% fruit juice per day for 2-3 year olds. No more than 4-6 oz of 100% fruit juice per day for 4-5 year olds. It’s always good to dilute fruit juice with water when you can!
Okay, but my kid is already drinking juice/chocolate milk, etc. What do I do?
Again, I totally get it. Wallace is actually super into whole milk, and maybe we should be cutting that with some 2% now. Healthy Eating Research suggests gradually cutting back consumption of non-recommended drinks by adding water or milk to them.
They also suggest cutting back on the amount of milk a child drinks as they get older by only offering it at mealtimes.
Personally, I also find that my kids are more willing to drink just plain water when:
- We pour it in fun reusable water bottles and keep refrigerated
- We make a jug full of ice water and add sliced fruit
- Mom and dad drink water in front of them often
- It’s all that’s offered
Our kids are also super into canned sparkling water as a fizzy treat.
You can read more about these tips and guidelines at HealthyDrinksHealthyKids.org
Solidarity internet hugs to all of us trying our best to balance life with making sure our kids are eating (and drinking) healthy stuff. It’s not easy, but I see us out here, trying hard. Wish me luck with Danger Baby.
Thanks to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for sponsoring this post.