Parenting isn’t easy. Not only do parents have to think about their children’s education, future and happiness, they also have to worry about their children’s diets. Is fruit juice healthy? What about full-fat milk? There’s lots of information about what children should drink, which is why we’ve condensed it all down for you into two simple lists. So here’s our lists of what children can drink and what they should avoid.
Drinks to give
- Water. The best drink for children is plain water. Water is pH neutral and helps to wash away leftover food in their mouths. As an added bonus, tap water is fluorated in some parts of the UK.
- Milk. Another great drink for children is milk. Milk is high in calcium, which kids need for strong teeth. It’s also high in protein, which is just what children need to grow. However, keep in mind that babies should be at least twelve months old before you give them cow’s milk. Also, full-fat milk is better for young children than semi-skimmed milk because it’s more nutritious. Here’s a rough guideline of the best ages to give children milk:
- 0-1 year – breast milk and formula
- 1-2 years – full-fat milk
- 2 and older – semi-skimmed milk
- 5 and older skimmed milk
What to avoid
- Pop. This should be obvious, but don’t give fizzy drinks to children. Many fizzy drinks are high in sugar, which increases the risk of cavities. And what’s not so obvious is that sugar-free pop isn’t good for teeth either. They contain acids that erode enamel.
- Juice. You might think that fruit juice is healthy. After all, it’s high in vitamins and minerals, right? However, juice is also high in sugar (even unsweetened juices). What’s more, juice erodes enamel due to its acidity. Therefore it’s best to limit your child’s juice intake to just one small glass per day.
- Bedtime drinks. Who doesn’t have fond childhood memories of drinking a milkshake before bedtime? Unfortunately though our parents were misguided, because the best thing to give to children at night is plain water. This is because our saliva production slows down at night and it’s when our teeth are most at risk. If you do give milk to your kids at night, then don’t add anything to it. That means no milkshake or hot chocolate.
- Sippy cups. Sippy cups are a popular choice with parents of young children because they’re spill-proof. If your toddler knocks the cup over, then there’s no worries. However, we don’t recommend sippy cups because children have to suck the cup to get the liquid out. Sucking is bad because it forces your child to drink for longer, which in turn prolongs the amount of time the drink is in contact with your child’s teeth. Free-flow feeder cups are much better because the liquid flow is unrestricted.
- Bottles after the age of one. Bottles have the same problem as sippy cups. Bottles require babies to suck for a prolonged amount of time, which means the drink is in contact with your babies’ teeth for a long time. For this reason, babies should begin to switch from a bottle to a free-flow feeder cup at the age of six months and ideally, babies should be completely off the bottle by the age of one.