Should a Toddler Drink Soda?

Soda is loaded with calories and sugar and shouldn't be part of your toddler's diet. The average toddler's diet contains an unhealthy amount of added sugar, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports. In fact, sweetened beverages contribute more calories from added sugar than any other food. While an occasional sip of soda won't harm your toddler, regularly including it in his diet can be detrimental to his health.


One of the primary drawbacks to giving your toddler soda is the amount of sugar the beverage contains. One 12-ounce can of soda can have up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than your toddler should have for the entire day. If your toddler regularly consumes this much sugar, he is at an increased risk for unhealthy weight gain, Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. Replace soda with plain water, milk and 100 percent fruit juice to reduce his intake of sugar from beverages.


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The number of calories in a serving of soda can contribute to weight gain and obesity, particularly if your toddler drinks soda on a daily basis. The average 12-ounce serving of soda contains between 120 and 150 calories. Every 12-ounce soda your child drinks daily increases his body mass index by 0.18 percent, according to a 2004 study published in "Pediatrics." Your toddler's body mass index is used to determine if he is at a healthy weight. A daily serving of soda also increases your toddler's risk of obesity by 60 percent. Plain water and decaffeinated unsweetened iced tea are healthy options that contain zero calories.


Most soda contains caffeine, a stimulant that your toddler doesn't need in his diet. The KidsHealth website notes that caffeine is classified as a drug because it causes changes to your child's central nervous system. Too much caffeine can cause nervousness, upset stomach, headaches, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Caffeine is also a diuretic, which can cause dehydration if your toddler drinks too many servings of soda. The average caffeinated soda contains between 38 and 71 milligrams of caffeine. Eliminate soda from your toddler's diet to cut his intake of caffeine.

Lack of Nutrients

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When your toddler fills up on soda, it leaves little room in his diet for nutritious beverages. Soda doesn't contain essential vitamins and minerals your toddler needs for proper growth and development. If he drinks too much soda, he might be lacking in these important nutrients. Many children who drink a lot of soda are deficient in calcium, which is essential for strong bones. Your toddler might also be deficient in vitamin D, phosphorus and vitamin B12. Replacing soda with more nutritious drinks, such as milk and 100 percent fruit juice, helps ensure that he gets the nutrients he needs.