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Drinks for children age 1 to 4 years

The best drinks for children age 1 to 4 are:

  • water
  • breast milk
  • milk

Offer your child 6 to 8 drinks every day. Avoid sugary drinks and limit fruit juices.

Children age 1 or older do not need a bottle. They can drink from a cup or free-flow beaker.

Food portion sizes for children age 1 to 4


You can use tap water if it is suitable for drinking. There is no need to boil and cool water for children over 1.

Breast milk

If you can, continue to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond.

If you are breastfeeding, you can also add cows' milk to your child’s cereal or offer cows' milk as a drink.

Include milk, yogurt and cheese in your child’s diet. These are important for healthy bones.

Extended breastfeeding


You should give full-fat milk to children under 2. Full-fat milk is sometimes called whole milk on the label.

You can give children low-fat milk at age 2 or older. Low-fat milk is sometimes called semi-skimmed milk.

You should not give skimmed milk to children under 5. Skimmed milk is sometimes called slimline milk.

Soya and plant-based drinks

Children who do not have a diagnosed milk allergy should drink cows' milk.

You can give your child soya milk if they are allergic to cows' milk. Choose unsweetened soya milk that is fortified with calcium.

Other plant-based drinks are not suitable for children in this age group. They are not a good source of nutrition.

These include:

  • almond milk
  • coconut milk
  • rice milk
  • oat milk

Do not give your child rice milk as it may contain traces of arsenic.

Warning against using rice milk -

Food allergies and children

Avoid fruit juice

Avoid giving your child fruit juice. It is not good for their teeth.

If you are giving fruit juice, limit it to 100mls and dilute well with water. It is better to give your child whole pieces of fruit. Make sure the fruit is a safe size for your child to eat

Looking after your child's teeth

Orange juice and vitamin C

Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.

Great sources of vitamin C include:

  • orange or mandarin segments
  • berries
  • kiwis
  • red peppers

Iron is an important nutrient for young children.

Give your child a food that contains vitamin C with a breakfast cereal that contains iron. Aim for breakfast cereals with 12mg of iron per 100g of cereal.

If your child will not eat a piece of fruit with breakfast, offer 100mls of unsweetened orange juice.

Sugary drinks

Some drinks are not good for your child’s teeth, including:

  • sugary cordials
  • fizzy drinks, including sugar-free and diet versions

Avoid offering your child these drinks. But if your child does have these drinks, make sure they have them with food.

Cut down on sugary drinks -

Cups and beakers

Your child can start to use a beaker or cup without a lid between the ages of 1 and 2.

Drinks for babies 0 to 12 months

Page last reviewed: 10 July 2023
Next review due: 10 July 2026

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.