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Food and Beverage Tips for Your Family

As a parent or caregiver, you significantly influence your children’s eating and drinking habits, but we understand it is difficult. Use our research-based recommendations to support your child’s health with nutritious foods & beverages and healthy feeding tips.

Ages 0-2 Feeding Recommendations

0-6 months

  • Breast milk/iron-fortified formula is all your baby needs before introducing foods. Solid foods can slowly become a part of your child’s diet, usually between 4 and 6 months, depending on developmental needs.
  • If you are exclusively breastfeeding, you can give your baby a Vitamin D supplement daily because breast milk levels are low.
  • The amount of breast milk/formula your baby needs will change over time.

6-12 months

  • Breast milk/formula is still the most essential nutrition source.
  • To incorporate solid food, start mashing or pureeing solid food when your baby is developmentally ready, typically between 4 and 6 months. Begin to add lumpy and soft finger foods between 6 to 8 months. Introduce chopped food and hard finger foods between 8-12 months.
  • Offer different food from all food groups!

12-14 months

  • Early repeated exposure to fruits and vegetables can help your child learn to enjoy them. Provide different types and colors.
  • Implement foods rich in fiber, like wheat bread and pasta or brown rice.
  • Healthy fats are essential to incorporate for brain development. Try out different fish or foods prepared with healthy oils.
  • You can begin offering plain whole milk after your child’s first birthday.

Ages 2-8 Feeding Recommendations

Continual exposure is a great way to introduce new healthy foods to your child. Kids must try a food multiple times, sometimes even more than ten times, before knowing they like the item. Try out some of these tips for your 2 to 8-year-old.

Tips for trying new foods:

  • Pair new foods with flavors that are familiar to your child. Offering fresh foods, like vegetables, with dressings/dips/seasonings that are familiar and liked will motivate kids to test out unfamiliar foods they may enjoy.
  • Kick-off trying new foods slowly. Even trying just a few bites of food may be enough to get kids to enjoy and experience fresh foods while limiting excess waste.
  • Involve your children in mealtime and make it fun! Engaging little ones in creating the meal provides opportunities for kids to use their senses by touching, smelling, and exploring new foods. Becoming comfortable and familiar with fresh foods can be necessary before tasting.

What not to do:

  • Don’t pressure your child to eat. Try encouraging and motivating them to experience new foods using the recommendations above!
  • Offering food to soothe emotions or as an award can influence kids to use food as emotional support. Don’t use food as a reward or coping mechanism. Instead, use other non-food rewards.

Ages 0-5 Beverage Recommendations

  • Young infants (0-6 months) only need breast milk/formula to consume enough fluids and nutrition.
  • Infants (6-12 months) should rely on breast milk/formula for their daily fluid and nutritional needs. Typically, around six months, solid foods are introduced and can be added with a few sips of water during meals to help babies with cup-drinking skills and adjusting to the taste of water.
  • Children (12 months – 3 years) should drink 1-4 cups of water daily to consume enough fluids.
  • Children (4-5 years) should drink 1.5 to 5 cups of water daily.
  • Water needed varies daily based on activity levels, the weather, or the number of fluids consumed from other food and drinks.

Check out more specific beverage tips for your child in the 0-5-year-old range at https://healthydrinkshealthykids.org/parents/.

Ages 5+ Beverage Recommendations

What should my child drink?


  • Plain Water. This also includes carbonated water with no added sugar, which is the best way for your child to stay hydrated.
  • How much water each child needs differs from day to day depending on activity levels, the weather, and the amount of fluid consumed from other beverages and foods.


  • Children should drink unflavored, low-fat (1%), nonfat/skim milk, or soy beverages (calcium and vitamin D fortified). The recommended amount varies depending on your child’s age.

What to limit:

100% Juice

  • If a drink is 100% juice, it will be labeled on the front-of-package or the Nutrition Facts Panel. It will have 0 g of added sugars which will also be stated on this panel. 100% juice means the beverage is wholly made from a fruit/vegetable, with no added sweeteners or other ingredients.
  • Don’t add any additional sugars or sweeteners.
  • Recommended amounts and mg of sodium per portion vary with age.

What to avoid:

  • Flavored milk
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Sugary drinks
  • Low-calorie sweetened drinks (“diet” or “light” drinks)

Learn more about healthy eating and drinking habits for your family at https://healthyeatingresearch.org/tips-for-families/

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