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Suitable drinks for children

Suitable drinks for children

Plain water and milk are the most suitable drinks for children.

Because of its natural sugar content, unsweetened fruit juice should only be consumed with meals and ideally diluted (one part juice to ten parts water).

If you are unsure about whether a drink contains added sugar, check the ingredients list. Less common terms for sugar that may appear on the ingredients list are sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, dextrose and syrup.

The low down on suitable drinks.

Plain water and milk (low-fat perferably) are the best choice at any time.

Limit the drinks below to a small glass once a day, and its best to have them at mealtimes.

  • Unsweetened fruit juice (fruit juice from concentrate is suitable also if it does not contain added sugar)
  • Flavoured milk - choose brands that are lower in sugar
  • Diluted sugar-free squash
  • Yoghurt or milk drinks - choose brands that are lower in sugar
  • Smoothies - homemade using whole fruit are best
  • Fruit juice drink (unsweetened)

While these drinks don’t provide important nutrients and are not tooth friendly:

  • Fruit Juice drink (sweetened)
  • Fizzy drinks (including diet versions)
  • Sugary drinks include fizzy drinks, squashes, cordials and juice drinks. 

Drinking sugary drinks is linked with excess weight in children. Milk and water are the best choices.

This table shows how much sugar is in commonly available sugary drinks. Click on the image to open a larger version.

Tips on how to cut down on sugary drinks

  • If your family loves soft drinks or other sweetened drinks, reduce them gradually.
  • Start by adding plenty of water to cordials and squashes.
  • Add extra water each time to squashes and cordials to reduce your child’s taste for sweetness.
  • Keep sweetened drinks for the weekend.
  • Make water freely available between meals.
  • Water is tastier when it’s cold: put a jug of water in the fridge
  • Add a slice of lime, lemon or orange to give it flavour and colour.

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