Healthy Beverages for Young Children (Ages 0-5)

With the growing number of blogs and articles popping up on the topic of how and what to feed kids, it can often be overwhelming as a parent to know what to read and what to believe – and then what to feed your kids. As a mom and registered dietitian, this recently released research, “Healthy Beverage Consumption in Early Childhood: Recommendations from Key National Health and Nutrition Organizations,” from Healthy Eating Research caught my attention. 

This evidence-based report – co-authored by an expert panel of representatives from four leading health organizations (American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Heart Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) – has gained media coverage and has most likely been circulating in your news feeds. But what are the recommendations, and what does it mean for you?

Key Recommendations

What Does It Mean for You?

Plain and simple – milk (breast, formula or cow’s milk, dependent on age) and water should be the only go-to beverages for children up to age 5, with the occasional 100% fruit juice in limited amounts.

Beverages play a key role in young kids’ health – comprising a significant percentage of their calories in the early years of life. Additionally, the calories kids consume are critical in helping meet nutrient needs, leaving little room for nutrient-poor, calorie-laden beverage options. Appropriate intakes of healthy beverages in early childhood are extremely important in meeting the nutritional needs of infants and young children and supporting healthy growth and development. Teaching kids to love healthy beverage choices now will have a lasting impact on their decisions down the road – and overall health in the future. And, as always, be sure to consult with your health care provider to assess what’s best for your child’s individual needs.

Learn more about dairy and childhood nutrition

By Jennifer Duhon, M.S., RDN, LDN

Jen is a Louisiana native who was inspired to enter the field of nutrition by her grandmother. She was the first registered dietitian to hold a board seat on the Louisiana Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In her free time, Jen enjoys kickboxing, dancing, running and spending time with her husband and two children. Learn more about Jen here.