Washington: While milk is surely advised as a healthy and nutritive drink for children, those under the age of five are advocated to keep off from plant-based milk.
According to Healthy Eating Research guidelines, plant-based milk made from rice, coconut, oats or other blends -- with the exception of fortified soy milk -- lacks in key nutrition required for early development of kids.
Moreover, these kids should also avoid consuming diet drinks, flavoured milk and sugary beverages along with limiting the amount of juice they drink.
The guideless released on Wednesday came from a panel of experts with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association.
"More and more parents are turning to plant-based milk for a variety of reasons and there's a misconception that they are equal somehow to cow or dairy milk, but that's just not the case," CNN quoted Megan Lott, who helped develop the recommendations as the deputy director of the Healthy Eating Research, as saying.
She added that most plant-based milk is incapable of providing enough key nutrition, like vitamin D and calcium.
"The guidelines do make an exception if a child has a dairy or cow milk allergy or is lactose intolerant or has religious rules or lives in a house that keeps a vegan diet, in that case, the parents should definitely consult with their pediatrician or dietitian," Lott said.
The recently released guidelines also state that children should keep away from low and zero-calorie drinks too.
"We are finding more and more of these artificial sweeteners showing up in food marketed to young children and there is no research on these substitutes that show they cause harm, but there's really no research showing that they are safe," said Lott.
Sugar-sweetened, caffeinated beverages along with juices are advised to be kept off kids' drink menu.
The guidelines recommend children under 1 year old drink no juice at all. For age 1 to 3, it's no more than half a cup a day, and for children who are 4 and 5 it's no more than half-cup to 3/4 a cup a day.
The guidelines recommend children between the age of 1 and 2 years old drink two to three cups of whole milk a day. At age 2 and 3 they should drink no more than two cups of skim or low-fat milk a day. For age 4 and 5 they should drink no more than two and a half cups of skim or low-fat milk a day.
For water, it's a half-cup to a cup for 6- to 12-month-old children, one to four cups a day for ages 1 to 3, and one and a half to five cups a day for 4 and 5-year-olds.
"When some parents walk into a grocery store they may be overwhelmed by the options, but in daily life, the key message is, what we recommend is doable, even if it does take some persistence and cooperation," Lott opined.