Children need to drink lots of water to be healthy. They should drink even more water when they are exercising and/or if it’s a hot day.
Children need many little drinks during their day. Regularly offer drinks, as your child might forget to drink when exercising and get dehydrated (lose a lot of water), this can be dangerous for young children.
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Have lots of these:
- Water is ideal – it’s cheap and you can get it anywhere. Always have a bottle of cold water in your fridge. If your child doesn't want to drink water, add a little flavour and interest by including a slice of orange, lemon, watermelon or strawberry into the glass, or a sprig of fresh mint.
- Milk is a great choice for children since it provides protein, energy, and vitamins and minerals. Offer milk after or between meals for a snack.
- Tamariki under 3 years of age who no longer have milk as their sole source of nutrients should be limited to 2 cups of milk (500 ml) each day. If young children drink too much milk they may feel full and then not eat enough food to get the nutrients they need to grow well.
- Don't have too much fruit juice – it's full of sugar. If you are giving them fruit juice, weaken it by adding plenty of water (1 part juice to 10 parts water) and let them have it with a meal. This can help to defend their teeth from the sugar in the fruit juice.
- Soft drinks are filled with sugar and sometimes have caffeine. They should be ‘rare’ drinks (less than once a week).
- Flavoured milk may sound healthy, but some brands have a lot of added sugar. Keep it as a special treat or make your own by flavouring milk with things like cinnamon or vanilla pod.
- Don’t offer tea or coffee to children. They contain caffeine which may affect children’s sleep and lead to dehydration. Other substances found in tea and coffee can lower the level of iron children get from food.
- Never give your children energy drinks, energy shots or drinks with guarana. These have a lot of caffeine and most are extremely high in sugar.
Read more about healthy eating for children and water.
Feeding your child 1 year and over Ministry of health, NZ, 2015
Warning about high sugar in flavoured milk Kidspot, Australia, 2018
Tips for drinking more water Mayo Clinic, US, 2021