SOFT DRINKS, JUICE AND SWEET DRINKS – CHILDREN Drinks containing added sugar include sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin-style waters, flavoured mineral waters, energy and sports drinks Reasons to limit sugary drinks Children do not need to include any fruit juices or other sweet drinks to have a healthy diet. Intake of sweet drinks reduces the quality of your child’s diet, has links to weight gain and poor oral health, and also exposes them to the ‘habit’ of drinking sweet drinks. The Australian Dietary Guidelines do not recommend the consumption of sugar sweetened drinks such as soft drinks, cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin-style waters, flavoured mineral waters, energy and sports drinks. Fruit and vegetable juices contain sugars that are found naturally in fresh fruits and vegetables, but become very concentrated when made into juice. Children do not need any fruit or vegetable juice to have a balanced and healthy diet. Encouraging children to eat the whole fruit or vegetable, and drink plain tap water or milk rather than juice is the best way to establish good eating habits early. Milk for children Breastmilk is the best drink for infants. For children less than 12 months old, breastmilk or infant formula should be the main drink. After 12 months of age, when your toddler has reduced breastfeeding or formula, full-fat cow’s milk and water are recommended as the best drinks. From two years of age, reduced-fat milk can be offered. Water is preferred for toddlers and older children, so encourage this regularly and throughout the day. And try getting the whole family to drink water or milk. Milk is an important food and part of the food group – milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives – which is required for children’s growth and development. However, drinking too much milk can fill children up and lead to poor appetite. Older children will need around three serves from this group, while younger children need around three ‘half’ serves. A serve is ¾ cup (200 g) yoghurt or 1 cup (250 ml) of milk or two slices (40 g) of cheese. Encourage plain milk in preference to flavoured milks as flavoured milk is higher in added sugar. More information on the recommended number of serves from the five food groups is available at Eat for health or from your healthcare professional.