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What should young kids be drinking?

A little girl drinking water.

Oct. 8, 2019—A group of health experts has released guidelines on the beverages children should drink from birth through age 5. Breast milk, plain milk and water made the cut. Chocolate milk and drinks with caffeine did not.

Drinks are a big source of calories and nutrients during a child's first few years. It's also a time when children learn what flavors they prefer. These preferences can last into adulthood. That's why it's important for parents and caregivers to set children on a course of healthy beverages.

Experts who helped write the guidelines came from leading health organizations. These included:

These groups agreed that these recommendations can help set most kids on a healthy path. The guidelines are as follows:

All kids 5 years and under

All kids ages 5 and younger should avoid drinking flavored milks, toddler formulas, drinks with caffeine, and sugar- and low-calorie sweetened drinks. They also should avoid plant-based, nondairy milks such as almond, rice and oat milks. These drinks have no unique nutritional value.

0 to 6 months

Breast milk or infant formula will give babies enough fluids and proper nutrition.

6 to 12 months

Parents should continue to offer breast milk and infant formula. Once an infant begins to eat solid food, parents can offer a few sips of water at mealtimes. It's best not to offer children under age 1 juice drinks. Not even 100% juice beats out eating whole fruit for nutritional value.

12 to 24 months

This is a good time to add whole milk and plain drinking water to the menu. A small amount of 100% fruit juice is OK. Or, even better, offer several small pieces of fruit.

2 to 5 years

Parents should offer lower-fat milks and plain water. Again, 100% fruit juice is OK in small amounts. Add a small amount of water to the juice and a little will go a long way.

The milk of choice for babies

Learn why breast milk is the most nutritious choice for your baby.

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