What your little one drinks is vital for healthy growth and development. For my little one, milk and water are the only options. I may be a mean mommy but I’m very picky with what I give my daughter. My husband and I try to lead by example by only drinking water. While we will occasionally have a soda, we don’t sip on it all day. There have also been times where someone has offered Brooklyn a juice box but she will turn it down for her water. (Mommy Win!)
The importance of Milk:
For a newborn baby, breast milk will fill a baby’s tummy as well as quench their thirst. Even in the summer, breast milk is still all a newborn needs, although it’s not bad to offer sips of water on especially hot days. Around a year old, you can introduce and/or switch your baby to whole cow’s milk. Whole milk is super important for growing babies. It provides necessary protein, calcium, vitamins, and good fats needed to thrive.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is important for babies and toddlers to drink whole cow’s milk up to two years of age. After two it is up to the parents to determine if a reduced fat alternative is needed to control weight gain. If your little one refuses to drink milk, they can still get good sources of calcium and vitamin D from cheese and yogurt. Not recommended for toddlers to drink over 16 oz. of milk because it can fill them up, preventing them from wanting other nutritious food.
Recommended Serving of Dairy for Toddlers 2 years and Under: 2 servings of dairy per day
Recommended Serving of Dairy for Toddlers 2-3 years of age: 2.5 servings of dairy per day
Examples of Serving Sizes:
Milk- 8oz= 1 serving of dairy
Yogurt-8 oz= 1 serving of dairy
Cheese- 3 oz= 1 serving of dairy
Shredded cheese-1/3 cup= 1 serving of dairy
Alternatives to Milk:
Common alternative are soy, coconut, rice, and nut (cashew, almond). Other alternatives are hemp, oat, and milk made from pea protein. Alternatives to milk contain fewer calories and protein and may not contain the nutrients needed for growth. Some milk alternatives are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, so it’s very important to read labels. When choosing an alternative, make sure to choose one with the same calories and protein as cow’s milk because this is essential for a child to thrive.
Water is super important for toddlers. Water helps carry nutrients to cells, removes waste product, and helps control body temperature. Staying hydrated is very important, considering some kids don’t always notice signs of dehydration. Keeping a water bottle close by is essential. My husband and I always have water around us, usually in our favorite water bottle. Allowing Brooklyn to pick out her own water bottle made her feel like a big kid, which in turn helps her with drinking enough water throughout the day.
Recommended Amount of Water for a Toddler 1-3 years of age: 1.3 liters per day (44 fluid ounces)
Juice and other Sugary alternatives:
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under a year old should avoid fruit juice. Most fruit juices and other alternatives, such as sports drinks contain a large amount of sugar, which if sipped on all day can lead to tooth decay. If you choose to give your child fruit juice, choose 100 percent fruit juice and limit the amount served per day (no more than 4 oz. per day). Encourage your little one to eat whole fruits to obtain the necessary nutrients and fiber.
My motto as a parent is “if they never have it, they don’t know what they are missing.” Making sure your child has an established relationship with the healthy options is very important. If your kid starts off with fruit juice, they will never want anything else.