Leading medical and nutrition organizations recommend breast milk, infant formula, water, and plain milk as part of a new set of comprehensive beverage recommendations for children, outlined by age (birth through age 5). They caution against beverages that are sources of added sugars in young children’s diets, including flavored milks (e.g., chocolate, strawberry) and sugar- and low-calorie sweetened beverages, in addition to a wide variety of beverages that are on the market and targeted to children such as toddler formulas, caffeinated beverages, and plant-based/non-dairy milks (e.g., almond, rice, oat), which they state “provide no unique nutritional value.”

“By providing caregivers, health care and early care and education providers, policymakers, and beverage industry representatives a clear set of objective, science-based recommendations for healthy drink consumption, we can use this opportunity to work together and improve the health and well-being of infants and young children throughout the United States,” said Megan Lott, deputy director of Healthy Eating Research, which convened the expert panel.

The recommendations were developed as part of an unprecedented collaboration by experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Heart Association (AHA) under the leadership of Healthy Eating Research (HER), a nutrition research organization, and with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

To develop the evidence-based recommendations, HER conducted an extensive review of scientific literature, existing guidelines from national and international bodies, and reports on early childhood beverage consumption. It also convened an expert panel of representatives from AAP, AHA, AND, and AAPD and a scientific advisory committee whose members discussed and reviewed the preliminary and final recommendations. Panelists and committee members were experts in pediatrics, early childhood nutrition, dentistry, and dietary and nutrition guidance.

In response to recommendations, Cary Frye, vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs at the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) released the following statement: “Dairy milk is one of the healthiest things we can serve our kids, according to a panel of leading health experts who strongly recommend parents make dairy milk a key part of their child’s diet beginning at 1 year of age … The experts conclude that cow’s milk—whole, low fat, and skim milk—offers a host of essential nutrients that young kids need to be healthy, while recommending parents strictly limit or eliminate all other beverages.”

Press release (pdf)

Recommendations

IDFA statement

In This Article

  1. Diet and Health
  2. Beverages
  3. Dairy

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