Healthy Drinks for Kids

Healthy Drinks for Kids

Lea este articulo en EspanolWe know it's important to get kids to eat healthy foods, but what about getting them on board with healthy drinks? What kids drink can greatly affect how many calories they consume and the amount of calcium (needed to build strong bones) their bodies get.

Serve Water and Milk

For kids of all ages, water and milk are the best choices, so let them flow. Besides having zero calories,water is a no-sugar thirst-quencher. And 1 cup of milk has 300 milligrams of calcium, so it's a big contributor to a child's daily needs.

Here's how much calcium kids need each day:

The current dietary guidelines for milk or equivalent dairy products or fortified soy beverages are:

Choose fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk products most of the time.

When kids drink too much juice, juice drinks, sports drinks, and soda, these beverages can crowd out the milk they need. Sugary drinks also can pile on the calories.

This chart shows the calories and sugar in different beverages:

DRINKSIZECALORIESSUGAR
Water8 oz (240 ml)00 g
Low-fat milk8 oz (240 ml)10011 g
100% orange juice8 oz (240 ml)11022 g
Juice drink (10% fruit juice)8 oz (240 ml)15038 g
Powdered drink mix (with sugar added)8 oz (240 ml)9024 g
Soda8 oz (240 ml)10027 g

Put Limits on Juice

If your child likes juice, be sure to serve 100% juice. Also follow these recommended limits:

Say No to Soda

Soft drinks are commonly served to kids, but they have no nutritional value and are high in sugar. Drinking soda and other sugared drinks can cause tooth decay. Colas and other sodas often contain caffeine, which kids don't need. In addition, soft drinks may be taking the place of calcium-rich milk.

One study found that, on average, preschoolers drank less than the recommended 16 ounces of milk each day while drinking 8 ounces of soda and fruit drinks (not including 100% fruit juice).

If soda habits start when kids are little, chances are they will drink increasing amounts as they get older. In older kids and teens, drinking soda has been linked to excessive weight gain and other problems.

That said, many kids like soda and will request it. As a rule, don't serve it to babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. With older kids, let them know it's a once-in-a-while beverage. Don't ban it entirely if your kids like it now and then — that's likely to make it more appealing and them more inclined to overdo it when they get the chance!

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: November 2014





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
Web SiteAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
Web SiteChooseMyPlate.gov ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information on how to follow the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes resources and tools to help families lead healthier lives.
OrganizationU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) The USDA works to enhance the quality of life for people by supporting the production of agriculture.
Related Articles
Calcium and Your Child Milk and other calcium-rich foods help build strong, healthy bones. But more than 85% of girls and 60% of boys don't get enough calcium each day.
Feeding Your Child Athlete All kids need to eat balanced meals and have a healthy diet. But should that balance change for kids who play on a sports team or work out? Maybe.
Bones, Muscles, and Joints Without bones, muscles, and joints, we couldn't stand, walk, run, or even sit. The musculoskeletal system supports our bodies, protects our organs from injury, and enables movement.
Can Too Much Juice Discolor Teeth? Find out what the experts have to say.
Why Drinking Water Is the Way to Go All living things need water to survive. Find out more in this article for kids.
Sports and Energy Drinks: Should Your Child Drink Them? When it comes to keeping your kid hydrated, there's a dizzying array of drinks to choose from. Are sports and energy drinks right for your child?
What Should Preschoolers Drink? The best drinks for preschoolers - and indeed for kids of all ages - are milk and water.
Dehydration Sometimes kids lose fluids and salts through fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or long periods of exercise with excessive sweating. Here are some tips on preventing or treating dehydration.
Family Meals Shared family meals are more likely to be nutritious, and getting everyone together is a chance to reconnect. Here are some simple suggestions for making mealtime into quality family time.
Is Caffeinated Soda OK for Kids? Find out what the experts have to say.
Does Skim Milk Provide the Same Nutrients as Whole Milk? Find out what the experts have to say.
What's a Healthy Alternative to Water? Find out what the experts have to say
Caffeine Confusion Should kids have caffeine? And what is it exactly? Find out in this article for kids.
What Kids Say About: What They Eat This KidsPoll survey asked kids about their eating habits. Did they eat vegetables and drink their milk? Find out!
A Guide to Eating for Sports You've prepared for the game in almost every way possible: but now what should you eat? Read about performance foods, nutritional supplements, and more.
Caffeine and Your Child Caffeine is in many foods and drinks, but it's wise to keep caffeine consumption to a minimum, especially in younger kids.
Energy Drinks and Food Bars: Power or Hype? Energy drinks and nutrition bars often make big promises. But when you cut through the hype, what are you really getting? Find out here.
Caffeine Caffeine has probably helped you through long nights of studying or filling out college applications. But how much do you know about caffeine and its side effects?
Nutrition & Fitness Center You know the importance of exercising and eating nutritious foods, but do you know how to raise a healthy and active child? Get practical advice and tips.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter