Parents of young kids should steer them clear of juices and plant-based milk and focus instead on cow's milk and water, according to new guidelines. The nutrition advocacy group Healthy Eating Research commissioned scientists to create updated advice on what children should drink through age 5, reports the New York Times. One takeaway: Despite the popularity of soy milk, almond milk, and other non-dairy offerings, the researchers say they're not so great for children. "More and more parents are turning to them for a variety of reasons and there's a misconception that they are equal somehow to cow or dairy milk, but that's just not the case," Megan Lott, deputy director of the Healthy Eating Research, tells CNN. Most don't deliver the Vitamin D and calcium that kids need, she says. Some specifics, from the above sources and Good Morning America:
- Birth to 6 months: Breast milk or formula only.
- 6 to 12 months: Breast milk or formula, but it's OK to introduce small amounts of additional water.
- 1 to 2 years: Make the switch to cow's milk; make it 2 to 3 cups of whole milk per day.
- 2 to 3 years: Transition to skim or low-fat milk. 2 cups a day.
- 4 to 5 years: Increase to 2.5 cups a day of skim or low-fat milk.
- Water: Kids age 6 months to a year should drink a half-cup to 1 cup per day; ages 1 to 3 should drink 1 to 4 cups per day; and ages 4 to 5 should get 1.5 to 5 cups a day.
- Juices: None at all for those up to age 1. After that, less than a cup a day of 100% fruit juice is the max, though none is optimal. The researchers recommend eating fresh fruit instead.
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