Young Japanese girl drinking from cup
Submitted by Deanna Tan, public health dietitian, and Kyriel Bardi, registered dental hygienist

With the warmer weather upon us, young children need to drink more to keep hydrated and regulate body temperature. Tips on healthy beverages for your little ones.

Providing healthy beverage choices like water, breast milk, or unflavoured milk is important. Less healthy choices like pop, fruit juice, slushs, and flavoured milk provide little to no nutrition for growing bodies; they also bathe teeth in sugar, increasing the risk of tooth decay.

What are the best beverages for my baby?

Until six months of age, breast milk or formula is all your baby needs.

From six to eight months, you can start to offer sips of water in an open cup, but do not let your baby fill up on water.

What are the best beverages for my toddler? 

Besides breast milk or formula, water in an open cup is the next best thing to offer. Between regular feeding times, offer water as it's a no-sugar thirst quencher. Sipping on milk, formula or juice frequently and for long periods of time between meals and snacks increases the risk of tooth decay.

Around nine months, you can start to offer small amounts of plain pasteurized whole cow’s milk (3.25% milk fat) in an open cup at meals and snacks. Lower fat milks (like 2%, 1% or skim) should not be offered until your baby is two years old.

Coconut milk, soy, rice, nut and seed beverages are also not recommended before two years of age. These drinks do not have enough nutrients to meet your growing baby’s needs.

Making drinking water fun

  • Plain water is best so your child gets accustomed to the taste. If your child won’t drink plain water, you can add natural flavouring like watermelon, cucumber or herbs like mint or basil. Limit natural citric flavours like lemons or oranges as the acid contributes to enamel erosion, tooth sensitivity and tooth decay.
  • Give your toddler choice of fun water bottles or fun cups.
  • Set a great example! Let your children see you drinking water.

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