Water And Milk Are The Best Choices

Every beverage we provide to children either nourishes their bodies…or not.   Children naturally get thirsty after playing, sleeping or eating.  They can learn to recognize when they are thirsty and can learn to develop a preference for drinking water to quench their thirst.

Always have the most thirst-quenching and healthy beverage choice—water—available for kids at all times. Water should be served inside and outside, during meals, and be easily accessible throughout the day.

Hydrating the body is important so that children can happily play, explore and learn throughout the day. Each time we offer water to a thirsty child, that child is learning the value of drinking water.

Habits begin in the earliest years.  Children watch, imitate and learn by interacting with you.  They want to do what you do.  If they see you drinking water, they will choose water too.

What else is a good choice for a beverage for young children?  Low-fat milk.  Now is the time to get children into the habit of drinking milk so they can get bone-building calcium, vitamin D and other important nutrients that their growing bodies and minds need. Milk should be served with meals, but water should also be available at mealtime for children to choose.

Thirsty? Drink some water.

Lunch time? Have some milk.

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Benefits of

Drinking Water

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Benefits of

Drinking Water

Water is best for quenching the thirst of active kids.

Benefits of Drinking Water

  • Keeps active toddlers and preschoolers hydrated
  • Reduces acid in the mouth that can cause cavities
  • Helps growing toddlers and preschoolers maintain a healthy weight

With meals, it’s best to serve milk but water should be made available too.

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Best Practice

Water Available at All Times

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Best Practice

Water Available at All Times

Have water visible and available inside and outside for self-serve.

Tips to Make Water Easily Available

  • Fill child-size water pitchers and let kids serve themselves.
  • Use a shower caddy to carry water and cups outside. Invest in a small portable water cooler for outside use.
  • Have small cups available. Avoid serving toddlers water in “sippy” cups or baby bottles.
  • If water fountains are available, allow children to take water breaks or refill water bottles from home.

Tips to Make Drinking Water Fun

  • Try adding fruit slices or berries to water for extra taste.
  • Read books and plan activities about water.
  • Select a child to be the “water helper” for the day.
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Best Practice

Low- or Non-Fat Milk

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Best Practice

Low- or Non-Fat Milk

Serve children two years and older only 1%, skim or non-fat milk (unless otherwise directed by the child’s health care provider). Remember, low-fat milk (1%) and reduced fat milk (2%) are different.

For children one to two years old, serve whole milk—toddlers need the extra dietary fats to help their brain and bodies develop and grow. For children up to two years of age who are overweight or have a family history of obesity, the use of reduced fat (2%) milk is appropriate.

Infants (up to 12 months old) should get only breast milk and/or formula—never cow’s milk.

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Best Practice

Limit Juice & No Sugary Drinks

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Best Practice

Limit Juice & No Sugary Drinks

Serve only 100% fruit juice and work with parents to make sure children are not drinking more than 4 – 6 ounces per day total. Since many children already consume 4 – 6 ounces of juice at home, consider not serving juice at all. Never serve sugary drinks–including fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea and soda.

Watch out for the drink labels on the front of juice packages. “100% Vitamin C” does not equal 100% juice. Check the nutrition facts to see if the drink is 100% fruit juice and look for hidden sources of sugar, like high fructose corn syrup.

Tips to Limit Juice and Say ‘So Long’ to Sugary Drinks

  • Instead of juice, serve fresh fruit, which includes important dietary fiber and is a natural source of energy.
  • Try diluting 100% fruit juice with water to train children’s palates to enjoy mild sweetness.
  • If families pack drinks for their kids, ask them to pack healthy beverages. A policy helps.
  • Remember to model healthy drinking by avoiding sugary drinks in front of children.