When you have a new baby, you usually feel incredibly anxious about ensuring they are healthy and safe. When it comes to nutritional drinks for toddlers, many new parents are unsure as to which liquids are actually safe for their toddlers. As toddlers get older, they’ll be able to drink different drinks. However, keeping track of which drinks are safe at which point in your toddler’s development can be confusing.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the healthiest toddler drinks along with some popular branded toddler drinks. Keep reading to discover the truth about every toddler drink and whether it’s really good for your child.

Toddler girl child enjoys playing in the large, designer bathtub and drinking running water from the spout as the freestanding oval tub fills with water for her bath.
Photographer: Jen Theodore | Source: Unsplash

What are the Most Nutritional Drinks for Toddlers?

Toddlers are officially defined by being between the ages of 12 to 36 months old. During this period of a toddler’s life, a huge amount of cognitive, emotional, and social development occurs. In order to help your child grow and learn at a healthy rate, support them with a healthy diet and the appropriate types of drinks.

While loads of commercial drinks are marketed at kids, sometimes the simpler the better. Here is some information about the drinks that every toddler should be drinking for growth and development.

Milk

Once your toddler hits 1 year old, they should be drinking a fair amount of milk. This drink is one of the most nutritional drinks for toddlers out there. It is incredibly helpful as a vitamin D and calcium source and will help to build and strengthen  your toddler’s bones and teeth. It’s important that you go for regular cow’s milk and avoid the sweetened, flavored milks that you may spot on the supermarket shelves.

How much milk a day? Try to limit your toddler to around 16 ounces, or two glasses, of milk a day. This will stop your toddler from becoming over full and will ensure they get other nutrients from their meals and other drinks.

Milk Alternatives

If your toddler isn’t a fan of cow milk, or they have a milk intolerance or allergy, there are a variety of milk alternatives that can give your toddler the calcium they need. Be sure to check the label on the milk alternative you purchase and avoid milk variants that are overly sweetened. One glass of regular milk contains around 300 mg of calcium, so aim to find an alternative with a similar value.

How much a day? As with regular milk, try to limit your toddler to just 16 ounces a day.

Water

Once your toddler celebrates their first birthday, they should be drinking a few glasses of water a day. Water is free of calories and helps to hydrate the body. Ensure your child gets a few glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration and maintain a healthy digestive system. Water is also essential for ensuring your toddler’s blood flow is healthy and regulated.

How much a day? Technically, children need the same amount of water as adults. However, there’s no need to become obsessive about it. When your child is thirsty, or the weather is hot, they’ll probably ask for water.

Juice

Kids love juice. This drink should be enjoyed by toddlers in moderation. Because juices are packed full of added sugars and preservatives, too much of this yummy drink can lead to childhood obesity and some serious complications. Aim to purchase 100% juice so that your kids also receive some of the nutrition benefits, such as iron, folate, potassium, vitamin C, and magnesium. These minerals and nutrients will help your child to develop a healthy immune system and a healthy, energetic body. If you’re looking for nutritional drinks for toddlers, juice is good, but should be limited.

How much a day? 4 ounces a day is thought to be the ideal amount for toddlers. At 4 ounces a day, you won’t risk causing unhealthy weight gain, plus, your toddler will get plenty of benefits. Try to avoid filling up a Sippy cup on an endless cycle. Instead, switch to water after one cup of juice.

Photographer: Nathan Dumlao | Source: Unsplash

What are the Least Nutritional Drinks for Toddlers?

Milk, water, and juice are widely thought to be healthy drinks for toddlers. Some beverages, however, should be avoided.

Caffeinated Drinks

You should definitely avoid giving toddlers any drinks with caffeine. Drinks like iced tea, black tea, and even some sodas can contain this stimulant. Unlike adults, toddlers react very strongly to even a small amount of caffeine. This may disrupt naps, cause shakiness, and stomach pains for your toddler. Remember, caffeine is a drug that raises blood pressure, and it may even hinder brain development.

Energy Drinks

While you may see the colorful, friendly bottles on the shelves as a sign that energy drinks are safe for toddlers, you should ever give your toddler this beverage. Energy drinks have a surprisingly high caffeine content and a high sugar content. For your little toddler, these two ingredients will likely be over stimulating and may result in jitters, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

Less than 100% Fruit Juice

Some fruit juices are just about as unhealthy as soda thanks to their high added sugar content. If you do decide to give your toddler juice, always make sure it’s got 100% on the label.

Are These Popular Toddler Drinks Really Good For My Toddler?

Go & Grow

Go & Grow is a milk-based drink made for toddlers. It’s a popular formula that packs in some extra nutrients that aren’t found in regular cow’s milk. This drink is made from nonfat milk that provides protein and carbohydrates. It also contains vegetable oils. Compared to regular milk, this beverage is more concentrated and has more nutrition.

However, some mothers have found that the additional sugars in beverages cause their toddler to become overactive and jittery.

Enfagrow

Enfragrow is another formula option. With Enfragrow, you can give your toddler a smaller serving as it’s more concentrated than whole milk. It also has fewer calories, at 160 vs milk’s 215. The company also claims that the drink has 22-24 nutrients, contains DHA, and probiotics. This beverage does contain slightly less calcium than milk, although it boasts more iron, vitamin D, and vitamin C.

Fortini

Fortini is a milk formula designed for children of up to 6 years old who are underweight or suffering from malnutrition. It comes in a variety of flavors. This drink obviously won’t be for every toddler and should only be purchased after a doctor’s recommendation.

PediaSure

PediaSure is another drink designed for children aged 3-4 who are diagnosed as being underweight or at-risk weight. It contains 27 minerals and vitamins, protein, DHA, antioxidants, and other nutritional values. If you think your toddler needs to gain weight, you may wish to speak to your doctor about switching from whole milk to PediaSure. This drink is best for children over 3 years old. If your doctor decides it’s the right beverage for your toddler, they’ll let you know exactly how much your child should be drinking a day to return to a healthy weight.

Final Thoughts

While it may be tempting to stock up on loads of commercial toddler drinks, as long as your toddler has a healthy, varied diet, they should be safe drinking water, juice, and a bit of milk.

When in doubt about your toddler’s diet, you should always speak to your doctor about your diet plan. Every toddler’s needs will be different, so it’s important that you cater the plan to your toddler’s unique needs. If your toddler is underweight or can’t maintain a steady weight, you should speak to your doctor about a milk-based formula like PediaSure or Fortini which can help your toddler get the nutrients, protein, and fat they need to reach a healthy weight.

What’s your toddler’s favorite thing to drink? We hope this guide to nutritional drinks for toddlers has given you some inspiration.