5 Healthy Drinks for Babies and Kids
Breast milk is all the food and drink babies need for around the first 6 months. Babies who are given only breast milk do not need any extra drinks.
Breast milk or infant formula is the baby’s main drink until they are 12 months of age.
From 6 months, small amounts of cooled boiled water can be given to babies as well as breast milk or formula.
Fruit juices, herbal teas, soft drinks, and other drinks are not needed for babies younger than 12 months of age. These drinks increase the risk of tooth decay. They can also fill your baby up and stop them from drinking breast milk or formula.
While getting your child to eat nutritious foods can be challenging, finding healthy — yet appealing — beverages for your little ones can prove just as difficult.
Most children have a sweet tooth and are prone to asking for sugary beverages. However, guiding them towards more balanced options is important for their overall health.
Meanwhile, for Kids more than 6 months here are 5 healthy drinks for you:
When your child tells you they’re thirsty, you should always offer water first.
This is because water is critical to the health and necessary for countless vital processes in your child’s body, including temperature regulation and organ function.
In fact, in relation to body weight, children have greater water requirements than adults due to their rapidly growing body and higher metabolic rate.
Unlike many other drinks, water won’t provide liquid calories, making it less likely that your child will feel full and refuse solid food. This can be especially important if you have a picky eater.
What’s more, drinking enough water is linked to healthy body weight, reduced risk of dental cavities, and improved brain function in children.
- Coconut Water
Although coconut water does contain calories and sugar, it makes a healthier choice than other beverages like soda and sports drinks.
Coconut water provides a good amount of several nutrients, including vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium — all of which are important for children.
It also contains electrolytes — such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium — which are lost through sweat during exercise.
This makes coconut water an excellent hydration alternative to sugary sports drinks for active children.
Coconut water is also beneficial when your child is sick, especially if they need to rehydrate after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.
However, it’s important to carefully read the label when purchasing coconut water, as some brands contain added sugars and artificial flavors. Plain, unsweetened coconut water is always the best choice for children.
- Unsweetened Milk
Even though many children prefer sweetened milk drinks like chocolate or strawberry milk, plain, unsweetened milk makes the healthiest choice for kids.
Plain milk is highly nutritious, providing many nutrients that are critical for growth and development.
For example, milk contains protein, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium — essential nutrients for bone health that are especially important for growing children.
Additionally, milk is often fortified with vitamin D, another important vitamin for bone health.
While many parents tend to give children fat-free milk, milk with a higher fat content may be healthier for younger children, as fat is needed for proper brain development and overall growth.
In fact, children have a higher need for fat than adults, due to an increased rate of metabolism.
For these reasons, higher-fat milk choices, such as 2% fat milk, make a better choice than skim milk for most children.
However, it’s important to note that drinking too much milk can cause children to become full, potentially causing them to consume less of their meal or snack.
To ensure that your child doesn’t become overly full on milk before eating food, only offer a small portion of milk at mealtime.
- Certain Herbal Teas
Even though tea isn’t usually thought of as a kid-friendly drink, some herbal teas are safe and healthy for children.
Herbal teas — such as lemongrass, mint, rooibos, and chamomile — are fantastic alternatives to sweetened beverages, as they are caffeine-free and provide a pleasing taste.
Additionally, herbal teas offer nutritional benefits and may even provide relief for children who are sick or anxious.
For example, chamomile and lemongrass teas have long been used to calm and soothe both children and adults with anxiety.
Chamomile has also been used as a natural treatment for intestinal symptoms — including nausea, gas, diarrhea, and indigestion — in both children and adults.
Research shows that chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce symptoms related to intestinal inflammation.
While some herbal teas are considered safe for children, it’s important to consult with your pediatrician before giving your child any herbal teas.
Keep in mind, too, that herbal teas are not appropriate for babies and should be served to children at a safe temperature to prevent burning.
- Fruit drinks
Fruit juices can be high in vitamin C but lack an important nutrient called fiber that is found in whole fruit.
Fruit juices (even 100% juice) also have a lot of sugar in them. Too much can increase the risk of tooth decay or your child gaining extra weight.
Whole fresh fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamin C, with much less sugar and much more fiber than juices.
Children over 12 months can drink small amounts of juice as part of a healthy diet. Limit this to no more than 120–180mL in one day.