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Healthy Drinks for Children

November 30, 2014 by HealthyFamilies BC

preschool girl drinking a glasss of water



Water and milk are the best drinks for children. Healthy drinks for kids do not include sugary drinks such as pop, fruit drinks, vitamin enhanced waters, flavoured waters, energy drinks and sports drinks.

Healthy drinks for toddlers, preschoolers and older children

Offer children water, milk or unsweetened, fortified soy beverage most of the time. They do not need sugary drinks to have a well-balanced, healthy diet.


Water is the best choice to satisfy thirst. When your child drinks plenty of water regularly throughout the day, she stays hydrated. This is especially important in hot weather or when your child is active. Drinking plenty of water can also help her avoid constipation.

Here are some tips to encourage your child to drink and enjoy water:

  • Get everyone in the family drinking water. When your children see you doing it, they’re likely to do it too.
  • Make water easily available by giving younger children water bottles at home and showing older children how to get their own water from the tap.
  • Have water on the table at meal and snack times.
  • Keep chilled water in a jug in the fridge. You could try adding slices of lemon or orange or a sprig of mint for interest.
  • In summer, freeze small pieces of chopped fruit in ice blocks and add these to water at snack and mealtimes.
  • Try a water filter if your child doesn’t like the taste of your local tap water.
  • Take filled water bottles when you go out with your child.


Plain milk and unsweetened fortified soy beverages are a good choice for children as they contain lots of nutrients the body needs, like calcium and vitamin D.

Fruit Juice

While one hundred percent (100%) unsweetened fruit juice is nutritious, it is high in natural sugar, calories and acid that can harm the teeth. If you give your child juice offer no more than 125 ml (1/2 cup) of 100 % fruit juice a day. Teens should have no more than 250 ml (1 cup) daily. For dental health fruit juice is best taken with meals rather than between meals. Better yet, encourage your children to eat fresh fruit instead of juice.

Did you know? It’s best for children to eat whole fruit and drink plain water or milk rather than juice. Water is always a better choice than fruit juice, because it satisfies thirst but doesn’t contain sugar.

Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks are drinks that contain added sugars. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to drinks or foods during processing or preparation. Sugary drinks often have little nutritional value other than extra calories. These drinks tend to "bump out" nutritious drinks and foods that growing children need to stay healthy. The extra calories in sugary drinks add up quickly and extra calories can lead to an unhealthy weight.

Sugary drinks include; pop, slushes, fruit drinks, vitamin enhanced waters, flavoured waters, energy drinks and sports drinks. They’re an unhealthy choice for children and can cause weight gain or tooth decay. Pop and energy drinks can also contain caffeine, which could make your child extremely excited, then exhausted.

Flavoured milks, as well as flavoured soy beverages and yogurt drinks contain added sugar, so it’s better to offer your children plain milk instead.

Tea and coffee are not good for your child as they contain caffeine, which can affect your child’s sleep, behaviour and development.

Tip: Want to know how much sugar you are drinking? Learn with Sugary Drink Sense.

© Raising Children Network Limited, reproduced with permission.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Dehydration: Drinking Enough Fluids (Babies and Young Children) 
HealthLink BC: Energy and Sports Drinks  
HealthLink BC: Energy Drinks 
Ministry of Education: Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools  
Healthy Families BC: Low Sugar Drinks for Kids  
Healthy Families BC: Articles on sugary drinks 
Healthy Canadians: Stay hydrated with water 



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