Water is the healthiest and cheapest drink you can choose, especially tap water, which has added fluoride to keep your teeth strong.
Children will lose water throughout the day so it is important to replace this with tap water. Drinking plenty of water will also help prevent constipation.
1-2 year-olds should be drinking around 4 cups of fluid a day,
3-5 year-olds need around 5 cups of fluid a day
At 12 months your baby should no longer be using a bottle. You can offer your child water from a cup. Let them play with a cup from 6 months so that they learn how to manage it. Use a plastic cup to begin with, and only half fill it with water.
At 12 months you can stop formula feeding and introduce full fat cow’s milk. The extra fat will provide energy to help them grow. If using different kinds of milk, like rice milk or oat milk, choose one that is full fat milk and has added calcium. These drinks do not have enough protein or vitamin B12, so your child will need to eat plenty of meat, fish, eggs or dairy.
Drinks to avoid:
Low fat milk or soy milk before 2 years of age
Fruit juice should be limited to 120-180 ml per day as it will interfere with your baby’s appetite and can cause toddlers tooth decay if given in bottles
Cordial, fruit drinks and sports drinks, because these drinks increase the risk of children becoming overweight. The sugar and acidity can also damage teeth
Drinks with caffeine such as tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks.
Making water an easy choice
If the older members of the family drink water, the younger ones will copy them. Avoid keeping soft drinks and other unhealthy choices in the house. Water and cups or refillable water bottles should be on hand, making it easy for children to drink often throughout the day.
[Source: NHMRC Eat for Health; Raising Children Network; Australian Government - Get up and Grow]