Healthy drinks under 6 months
Under six months, babies need only breastmilk or infant formula. Breastmilk and formula contain the nutrients babies need for growth and development.
Healthy drinks at 6-12 months
You can give breastfed and formula-fed babies small amounts of boiled tap water from a cup from six months on. If your baby has drinks other than water, breastmilk or formula in the first 12 months, it can stop your baby from getting enough essential nutrients.
Healthy drinks at 12 months
After 12 months, you can give your baby pasteurised, unflavoured, full-fat cow’s milk to drink if they’re eating a balanced diet. If your child has been formula fed and they’re eating a balanced diet, your child probably won’t need formula after 12 months. Reduced-fat milks aren’t recommended for children under two years. This is because babies and toddlers need the nutrients in full-fat milk to meet their energy, growth and development needs. You can keep breastfeeding after 12 months for as long as it suits you and your child.
Your baby can still drink water other than milk or formula. If you’re thinking of giving your child dairy alternatives as drinks, such as soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, or oat milk, it’s best to talk to your paediatrician first.
Healthy drinks for toddlers, preschoolers and older children
For toddlers and older children, water and milk are the best drinks.
Your child can stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This is especially important in hot weather or when your child is running around a lot. Drinking plenty of water can also help your child avoid constipation.
Encouraging your child to drink more water is very important task for this stage, especially for those who does not like water. Here are some tips to encourage your child to drink and enjoy water:
•Get everyone in the family drinking water as their main drink. When your children see you doing it, they’re likely to do it too.
•Take filled water bottles when you go out with your child.
•Have water on the table at meals and snack times.
• You could try adding ice cubes or pieces of frozen or fresh fruit to make it more appealing for your child, such as apple, lemon, orange, strawberry, pineapple,even mint leaves.
Fruit juices have high levels of sugar and don’t have much fibre. Children don’t need extra sugar – but they do need fibre.It’s best for children to eat whole fruit and drink plain water or milk. Water is better than fruit juice, because it satisfies thirst and doesn’t have any extra sugar.
If your child drinks juice, try to limit it to ½ a cup per day. You could try giving fruit juice at a particular time or activities to help you stick to this limit. For example, weekend, dining out, picnic, parties.
It’s a good idea to mix the fruit juice with some water or ice, and even sneak in a few vegetables. Mixing the fruit in a blender instead of a juicer will keep the fruit fibre in the juice.
Soft drinks, cordial, sports drinks, energy drinks, flavoured milk
Soft drinks, cordial, sports drinks and energy drinks have a lot of added sugar and virtually no nutrients for your child’s diet. These drinks can take the place of other more nourishing foods and drinks and can increase your child’s risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay.
Some of these drinks also contain caffeine, which could make your child extremely excited, then exhausted. Caffeine can also affect your child’s sleep.
Flavoured milk and milk drinks are high in added sugar, so it’s better to offer your children plain milk instead. Flavoured mineral waters can also be high in added sugar.
Tea and coffee
Tea and coffee contain caffeine, which can affect your child’s sleep, behaviour and development. Some herbal teas might contain compounds that can be harmful for children. Check with your paediatrician if you want to offer herbal tea to your child.
•Under six months, babies need only breastmilk or infant formula.
•Water and cow’s milk are the best drinks for children over 12 months, including teenagers.
•Unhealthy drinks include soft drinks, cordials, fruit juices, mineral waters, energy drinks, sports drinks, tea and coffee.
•Sweet drinks can increase children’s risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay.