The best drinks for children age 1 to 4 are:
- breast 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.
You can use tap water if it is suitable for drinking. There is no need to boil and cool water for children over 1.
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.
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.
- almond milk
- coconut milk
- rice milk
- oat milk
Do not give your child rice milk as it may contain traces of arsenic.
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.
Orange juice and vitamin C
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.
Great sources of vitamin C include:
- orange or mandarin segments
- 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.
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.
Cups and beakers
Your child can start to use a beaker or cup without a lid between the ages of 1 and 2.