boy drinking water

Healthy Beverages

December 20, 2023 Children

Healthy Beverages

By: Christina mcGeough, mph, rd, cdces, CLC

The period from birth to five years old is a time of rapid physical and developmental growth for children. During these years children learn a lot of new skills like feeding themselves, communicating with others, and expressing their feelings. They are like sponges absorbing new information rapidly and curious about their environment and surroundings – including what they eat and drink. The foods and beverages you offer children early in life can shape their food preferences and behaviors into adulthood. Consuming too many sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to too much weight gain in childhood. Children’s tummies are small, so drinking a lot of beverages can decrease their appetite and the amound of food they eat at mealtimes.

Here are some beverage choices, suggested amounts by age group, and ways to offer drinks to them as they grow. Let’s look at beverage recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and start with the obvious choices: water and milk.

Water

Recommendations by age

6 – 12 months

12 – 24 months

2 – 5 years

½ – 1 cup per day

1 – 4 cups per day

1 – 5 cups per day

Water

Recommendations by age

6 – 12 months

½ – 1 cup per day

12 – 24 months

1 – 4 cups per day

2 – 5 years

1 – 5 cups per day

Cow’s Milk

Recommendations by age

12 – 24 months

2 – 5 years

2 cups
whole milk per day

2 – 3 cups
1% or non-fat milk per day

Cow’s Milk

Recommendations by age

12 – 24 months

2 cups
whole milk per day

2 – 5 years

2 – 3 cups
1% or non-fat milk per day

Plant-Based Milk

Juice

Beverages that should be avoided

Be mindful of what types of beverages you offer and how much of these beverages your child drinks. Remember after 12 months, it’s best to offer water, milk, and other beverages in a cup (not a bottle) to support oral motor development and help prevent cavities.
Side-Lying

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

cross-cradle

Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Football

Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

CRADLE hold

Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

laid-back

Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: