The best drinks you can give your
children are water and milk
What can I do to help my child drink
Find out how much sugar is in your family’s drinks
Knowing what’s in your family’s drinks makes it easier to cut down or swap to healthier alternatives. Download the Change4Life sugar app to find out more.
Choose healthier drinks yourself
If you don’t want your child to have certain drinks, it’s easiest not to have them in the house. That’s better for you, and easier on your purse too. Try to avoid being tempted by offers in the supermarket. Make a list before you shop and stick to it.
Explain things to your child
Talk with your child about why you’re making changes. Explain that some of the drinks they might want are not good for their bodies. Think ahead to what you might say if your child asks for an unhealthy drink in a café or a restaurant. That will make it easier to not give in if it happens.
Spend the money you save on something nicer
Water and milk are cheap. Sticking to them will save you lots of money. Reward yourself for making healthier choices. Maybe you could arrange a day out for the whole family.
Find out about milk alternatives
Some children may drink fortified cow’s milk alternatives such as soya, oat, pea, coconut and nut-based milks.
For children under two years, this will usually follow a discussion with a health professional. It is important to speak with your GP or health visitor before making any significant dietary changes for your child. If your child has an allergy or intolerance to milk they will advise you about suitable milk alternatives to ensure your child gets the nutrients they need.
Fortified milk alternatives can be used from six months of age for adding to foods / cooking and for adding to cereal. They should not be given as a main drink until your child is at least 12 months of age having first checked that your child’s dietary intake is varied and adequate to gain all nutrients needed. Speak with you GP or health visitor for advice.
It is very important to choose brands that are fortified with calcium and other vitamins such as B2, B12, Vitamin D and iodine, and check the label for unsweetened varieties. Milk alternatives can also be lower in calories than cows’ milk. If you have any concerns regarding your child’s weight and or growth speak to your health visitor or GP.
Children under five should not be given rice milk, as they can contain unsafe levels of arsenic.
The First Steps Nutrition Trust has further information on milk alternatives in their Eating well: Vegan infants and under 5s resource