November/December 2019 Issue

Editor’s Spot: Consensus Reached on Kids’ Drinks
By Judy Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 21, No. 11, P. 4

Many of you know that for the first time the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Heart Association have come to a consensus and developed a set of recommendations for healthful beverage consumption for children from birth to age 5. This is good news because dietitians and other health care providers all can be on the same page when counseling parents with very young children about diet, nutrition, and dental health. Decades ago, it was common practice for mothers to put their little ones to bed with a bottle filled with flavored milk or fruit juice to help them go to sleep. Of course, this practice led to overconsumption of added sugars and baby teeth rife with dental caries. Thankfully, the times have changed!

According to a press release from the Academy, the recommendations were developed under the leadership of Healthy Eating Research, a leading nutrition research organization, and with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The recommendations include the following:

• 0–6 months: Only breast milk or infant formula (dairy or soy-based) for proper hydration and nutrition;
• 6–12 months: In addition to breast milk or infant formula, only a few sips of water when children begin solid foods;
• 12–24 months: Add whole milk and plain drinking water for hydration. Small amounts of 100% fruit juice are OK to avoid added sugars, but small pieces of fresh fruit are best; and
• 2–5 years: Milk and water should be the go-to beverages. Choose milk with less fat such as 1% or skim and continue to offer small amounts of 100% fruit juice.

The recommendations frown on giving children plant milks in place of dairy milk as well as toddler milks. Many plant milks include added sugars and don’t contain enough protein, calcium, and other vital nutrients found in cow’s milk. Toddler milks, often referred to as “transition” or “weaning” formulas, are a category of milks that some experts say is unnecessary. They’re unregulated by the FDA for infant use and therefore contain more sugar, fat, and sodium than infant formulas. The new recommendations, however, will enable health care professionals to educate parents and steer them in the right direction.

Visit for a good resource to share with parents, and let us know what you think about the new recommendations on social media. We’d like to hear your thoughts.

In this issue are articles on the new FDA-approved meds for severe hypoglycemia, exercise and brain health, frozen food trends, and heart-healthy holiday eating. Please enjoy the issue!

Judith Riddle