Our flavor preferences begin developing early in life, even before birth. We often think about food’s role in growth and development, but the drinks we expose children to from birth to age 5 have long-lasting effects on habits and health. It is important for parents and other caregivers to fill children’s glasses with healthy options. For the first time, the nation’s leading childhood health organizations have provided us with beverage recommendations for young children.
These recommendations say healthy beverages for a child are age dependent. Infants up to a year old can get most of their nutrition from breast milk or formula. Children between 1 and 2 years old should drink mostly water followed by whole milk. While experts recommend children eat fruit instead of drinking juice, a small amount of juice is OK. You should choose juices labeled 100% fruit juice with no added sugars and give children no more than 4 ounces a day. You can also water down the juice by half. Children older than 2 years should drink mostly water and low-fat milk with no more than 6 ounces of juice a day.
The recommendations suggest young children should avoid any drink containing caffeine or added sugar including flavored milk, sports drinks and fruit-flavored drinks. These drinks tend to provide children with little to no nutrition to support healthy growth or development, and the additional sugar can contribute to excessive weight and dental cavities.
More information on the new recommendations are available at https://healthydrinkshealthykids.org/ or by contacting the Barren County Extension office.
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