5 Healthy Drinks for Kids (and 3 to Skip)

Updated: Feb. 25, 2022

These healthy drinks for kids will delight even the pickiest eaters. They won't miss the unhealthy drinks at all!

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Cute asian little child girl drinking fresh water from glass on green nature background

What drinks are good for children?

We parents have a lot on our minds. On any given day, we’re focused on cooking healthy meals, discovering the right sleep schedule and finding that overdue library book. While a healthy diet is vital for our children, it can be easy to focus on the food and forget the drinks. But if you’ve ever handed over a juice box to a thirsty 2-year-old, you know how quickly it will be gone. So, it’s important to provide healthy sips throughout the day to keep kids hydrated and energized. That’s why we’ve rounded up the healthiest drinks to support your child’s health…and the unhealthy ones to avoid.

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Close up pouring purified fresh drink water from the bottle on table in living room

Healthy Drink: Water

As a parent, I practically follow my children around with water bottles. Helicopter parent? Maybe, but absolutely worth it. Our bodies need water to function, and kids are no different. When we’re becoming dehydrated, the first signs are crankiness and trouble thinking clearly, so keep the water flowing all day long. Have a child who doesn’t like the taste of water? Try infusing it with fresh fruit and herbs for a healthy alternative to juice.

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Serving breakfast milk with a jug in a glass on a white wooden kitchen table.
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Healthy Drink: Milk

Got milk? A cold glass of milk has always been the gold standard for calcium, but the benefits go far beyond bone health. Young toddlers need the fat in whole milk for their nerve and brain development. If your child isn’t a fan of milk, you can get the same benefits from other forms of dairy like unsweetened yogurt. Try offering your child a glass of plain milk or blend it up with their favorite fruits for a healthy smoothie.

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Coconut milk
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Healthy Drink: Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a creamy, tasty alternative to dairy milk; it’s also delicious even if you’re not avoiding dairy. Coconuts are rich in healthy fats perfect for growing bodies. Drinking coconut milk has also been linked to lower cholesterol levels and an improved immune system. Looking to avoid those classroom germs this year? Start your child’s day with a cool glass of coconut milk.

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Top view of the almond milk in the glass bottle with almond nuts in the white bowl on the grey table.
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Healthy Drink: Almond Milk

Almond milk is naturally high in vital nutrients for kids. It contains protein, vitamin E and magnesium. Most varieties are also enhanced with calcium and vitamin D. Plus, its healthy fats can keep kids full all morning long. Almond milk’s subtle nutty flavor is perfect on its own or over your child’s morning bowl of cereal. Check out all of our favorite nondairy milks here!

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Orange blossom mint tea
Taste of Home

Healthy Drink: Decaf Tea

Skip the pretend cups of tea at your child’s play tea party and go for the real thing! Certain herbal teas are safe and healthy for kids; just be sure they don’t contain caffeine. Try some gentle ginger tea when your child has a tummy ache or peppermint tea for a sore throat. Always check with your pediatrician if you have questions.

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closeup woman drinking ice cola in the glass.
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Unhealthy Drink: Soda

No surprise here—soda is not the best option for kids. It’s loaded with sugar and unhealthy chemicals, as well as caffeine. Save it as a special treat at a friend’s birthday party rather than a daily habit. Help your kids make their own versions with sparkling water and fresh fruit instead!

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Student preparing exam memorizing notes holding and energy drink in the night at home
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Unhealthy Drink: Energy Drinks

Next time your child is begging for an energy drink in the grocery store, you can feel confident saying no. Energy drinks can raise your heart rate and blood pressure and may even put you at higher risk for heart disease. Instead, help your child learn natural strategies to increase their energy like better sleep and exercise. They (and their hearts) will eventually thank you.

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Closeup of hands with coffee cups in a cafe

Unhealthy Drink: Coffee

There are few pleasures in life better than a fresh cold brew coffee; for adults, that is. Coffee in any form is unhealthy for kids. They definitely don’t need the caffeine, and even decaf coffee contains some. It’s also incredibly dehydrating, causing fatigue and mood swings. Save the coffee for yourself and pour your kids a tall glass of water.