What are healthy drinks to offer children?

What are healthy drinks to offer children?

Water and milk are healthy drinks. Drinks help children get the fluids they need to keep their bodies working well.

Children 2 to 3 years of age need 900 mL (4 cups) of fluid each day. Children 4 to 8 years of age need 1200 mL (5 cups) of fluid each day. Some of this fluid comes from foods like vegetables and fruit.


Drinking water is important for health, to quench thirst and to stay hydrated without calories.

  • Offer small amounts of water in an open cup around 6 months of age.
  • Have water available throughout the day.
  • Offer only water between meals and snacks.


Milk is a protein food in the food guide and continues to be recommended as a practical way to help meet protein, calcium and vitamin D needs for children. The Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth (ANGCY) advise to serve milk or unsweetened fortified soy beverages with meals.

Ages 1–2: Offer 3.25% milk.
Ages 2 and up: Offer lower fat milk (skim, 1%, or 2%) or fortified unsweetened soy beverage.

  • Offer milk with meals, served in an open cup.
  • Offer milk or water with snacks.
  • Serve milk in 125 mL (1/2 cup) portions.

Plant-based beverages

These are made from plant foods such as soy, rice, almond, coconut, oat, pea, potato and hemp. They look like milk but may not have the same nutrition value as cow’s milk.
Plant-based beverages are not recommended for children under age 2 because they can be low in important nutrients like fat, protein, and calories.
If offering a plant-based beverage to a child age 2 and older, choose a beverage that:

  • Provides at least 6 g of protein per 1 cup (250mL)
  • Provides less than 10g of sugar per 1 cup (250mL)
  • Provides at least 30% Daily Value of calcium and vitamin D per 1 cup (250mL )

For more information, visit the Healthy Eating Starts Here website.
Offer Healthy Drinks tip sheet

Healthy Drinks, Healthy Kids video
Healthy Drinks, Healthy Kids handout (page 1)
Plant-Based Beverages for Children