Drinks for children aged 5-12 years

Category: Children's health
Children's health

Milk and water are the best drinks for children.

The amount of fluid a child needs depends on a number of things.

These include:

  • child’s age;
  • weight;
  • body fat;
  • physical activity and exercise;
  • illness (especially vomiting, diarrhoea and fever);
  • Any special medical needs (especially ileostomies and colostomies).

Children who exercise a lot need to replace the fluid lost through sweating and will need to drink more.

A child who is not drinking enough will become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include:

  • Reduced urine output (peeing less than usual),
  • Dark-coloured and strong-smelling urine,
  • Dry mouth and skin,
  • Lethargy,
  • Dizziness,

Is my child drinking enough?

Checking the colour of urine is a simple way to see if your child is drinking enough - urine should be a pale yellow colour. If a child is passing clear urine regularly throughout the day, it is likely that they are drinking enough. If it’s darker than number three on the Pee Chart, more fluid is needed.

pee chart PDIG and sportSuitable drinks

  • Milk and water are the best drinks for overall health.
  • Unsweetened fruit juice can be given as a drink with one meal per day.
  • Unsweetened ruit juice should be well diluted with water. Juice should not be given      between meals as the natural sugar can cause tooth decay. Sweetened juices (i.e. juices with added sugar) are not recommended.

Did you know……?

  • Tea contains tannin which reduces the amount of iron absorbed.
  • Coffee contains caffeine at a level which can interfere with sleep and cause irritability.
  • Fizzy or carbonated drinks, even “sugar free”, “no added sugar” “max”, “free” and “diet” varieties, (for example cola, lemonade, orange, lemon and lime etc.), are not recommended for children because of their acidity which will increase the risk of tooth decay. They also can reduce appetite for more nourishing foods and/or contribute to excessive weight gain.
  • Sports and energy drinks are not recommended for children. They are intended for adults engaged in regular strenuous exercise. They usually contain high levels of salt which may not be safe for your child.
  • Energy stimulant drinks, even the sugar-free versions, contain caffeine at a level which can interfere with sleep and cause irritability; therefore they are not intended for children.
  • Squash/cordial is not recommended as a daily drink. The acidic nature and sugar content can increase the risk of tooth decay. Also, most types of squash, including the no added sugar varieties, contain artificial sweeteners at a level which is not recommended for children.

Created by the Paediatric Dietitians’ Interest Group (PDIG) of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) November 2015. Review date: November 2018

© 2015 Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute, INDI. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling withadietitian. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

Printer Friendly PDF: pdfDrink for children; 5-12 years