Healthy Drinks for Kids

image credit: Evan Long

image credit: Evan Long

Choosing the best type of hydration to keep your child healthy is important. For a child’s first year, breastmilk and/or formula are the best choices. Once they are six months old, there may be times, like during an illness, when your child may tolerate a product like Pedialyte. These types of products should only be used for a short time until solid food and more normal beverages can once again be tolerated.

Water is the best choice for hydration, while milk (or a suitable alternative like soy milk or almond milk) is the best choice to provide key nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Rice milk, as an alternative to milk, does not contain enough protein to be an equal substitution.

Avoid:

  • Fruit juice. It’s mainly a source of excessive calories. However, if it’s your child’s primary source of vitamin C, choose a 100 percent fruit juice that does not contain high-fructose corn syrup. Limit daily intake to 1/2 cup.
  • Sports or vitamin drinks unless your child is in playing in extreme weather or has excessive sweat/body fluid loss and needs to replace electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. These types of drinks contain excessive calories. While they do contain some vitamins and minerals, these nutrients are best obtained from foods.

For regular play, water is still the best way to stay hydrated before, during and after play.

Habits and food preferences begin early in life. Give your child a head start by allowing sweetened beverages only as a treat, not as an everyday staple.

– Christine Eagle M.S., Registered Dietitian, Clinical Nutrition Manager, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak

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