It might be difficult to encourage your child to eat nutritious foods, but it can be just as difficult to locate healthy beverages that your children would enjoy.
The majority of children have a sweet appetite and frequently want sugary beverages. Nonetheless, it is essential for their health that they be guided toward more balanced selections.
These are seven healthful beverages for children, along with three beverages to avoid.
When your child expresses thirst, you should always provide them with water first.
This is due to the fact that water is essential for a child’s health and crucial bodily processes, including temperature regulation and organ function.
In fact, children have a greater water requirement relative to body weight than adults due to their quickly developing bodies and higher metabolic rates.
Water, unlike many other beverages, contains no liquid calories, reducing the likelihood that your youngster would feel full and refuse solid meals. This is especially critical if you have a finicky eater in your household.
In addition, enough water intake is associated with a healthy body weight, lower risk of dental caries, and enhanced brain function in youngsters.
Moreover, dehydration can have other detrimental effects on your child’s health, including the potential reduction of brain function, constipation, and weariness.
Water should constitute the majority of your child’s fluid consumption, as it is vital to their health.
Naturally Flavored Water
Because plain water can be monotonous, it is likely that your youngster dislikes this necessary beverage.
Try infusing water with fresh fruits and herbs to make it more interesting without adding additional sugar or calories.
You can experiment with several taste combinations to find one that your youngster likes.
In addition, your child will receive a nutritional boost from the fresh fruit and herbs used to make the water.
These are some winning combinations:
- Combined pineapple and mint
- Cucumbers and melons
- Blueberries and raspberries
- Strawberry and citrus
- Citrus and lemon
Allow your youngster to choose their preferred flavor combination and assist with adding the contents to the water.
Many stores sell reusable water bottles with built-in infusers, allowing your youngster to stay hydrated when away from home.
To make water appealing to your child, add colorful and flavorful fresh fruit and herbs.
Even though coconut water contains calories and sugar, it is a much healthier alternative to soda and sports drinks.
Coconut water is an excellent source of various essential nutrients, including vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, which are all essential for children.
It also contains electrolytes, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium, which are lost during exertion through sweat.
This makes coconut water a good alternative to sugary sports drinks for youngsters who are physically active.
When your child is sick, coconut water is also good, especially if they need to rehydrate after vomiting or diarrhea.
While purchasing coconut water, it is crucial to carefully check the label, as some brands have added sugars and artificial flavors.
Coconut water that is unsweetened and unflavored is always the finest option for children.
Rich in minerals and electrolytes, coconut water is a wonderful choice for rehydrating children after illness or physical exercise.
Smoothies are a delicious way to incorporate fruits, veggies, and other nutritious items into your child’s diet.
While some store-bought smoothies are laden with sugar, homemade smoothies that are chock-full of nutritional ingredients are fantastic options for youngsters.
Smoothies can be particularly useful for parents who have to cope with picky eaters. Many veggies, like kale, spinach, and even cauliflower, can be mixed into a smoothie that your youngster will enjoy.
The following smoothie mixes are kid-friendly:
- Pineapple and spinach
- Spinach and blueberries
- Peach and broccoli
- Strawberry and beet salad
Mix the ingredients with unsweetened nondairy or dairy-based milk and add nutritious additions such as hemp seeds, cocoa powder, unsweetened coconut, avocados, or flax seed meal.
Avoid purchasing smoothies from grocery shops or restaurants, as they may include additional sugars; wherever possible, go for homemade smoothies.
Although smoothies are high in calories, they should be served as a snack or with a light meal.
Smoothies made at home are a wonderful method to enhance your child’s fruit and vegetable diet.
Even while many children prefer sweetened milk beverages such as chocolate or strawberry milk, the healthiest option for youngsters is plain, unsweetened milk.
Plain milk is extremely nutrient-dense, delivering numerous components essential for growth and development.
For instance, milk provides protein, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are vital nutrients for bone health and particularly important for developing children.
In addition, milk is frequently fortified with vitamin D, an additional essential vitamin for bone health.
While many parents tend to give their children fat-free milk, milk with a higher fat content may be more beneficial for younger children, as fat is essential for brain development and overall growth.
In fact, youngsters have a greater requirement for fat than adults due to their increased metabolic rate.
For these reasons, higher-fat milk options, such as 2% fat milk, are preferable to skim milk for the vast majority of youngsters.
It is crucial to note, however, that consuming too much milk can cause youngsters to feel full, forcing them to consume less of their meals or snack.
To prevent your child from being excessively full before eating, serve only a tiny amount of milk at mealtime.
While milk can be a nutritious beverage option, many youngsters are lactose intolerant. Milk intolerance is characterized by bloating, diarrhea, gas, skin rashes, and abdominal pain.
See a pediatrician if you feel your child has a milk intolerance.
Unsweetened dairy milk contains a variety of essential nutrients for growing youngsters. Nonetheless, some children may have lactose intolerance.
Unsweetened Plant-Based Milks
For children with lactose intolerance, unsweetened plant-based milk is a great substitute.
Milk derived from plants includes hemp, coconut, almond, cashew, rice, and soy.
Similar to sweetened dairy milk, sweetened plant-based milk may include large amounts of added sugar and artificial sweeteners; hence, it is preferable to choose unsweetened variants.
Unsweetened plant-based milk can be consumed on its own as a low-calorie beverage or as a base for smoothies, porridge, and soups that are suitable for children.
One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened almond milk contains fewer than 40 calories.
Including low-calorie beverages with meals reduces the likelihood of your toddler consuming only liquids. In addition, many plant-based kinds of milk contain a variety of vitamins and minerals and are frequently fortified with calcium, B12, and vitamin D.
Unsweetened plant-based milk, such as coconut, hemp, and almond milk, are adaptable and excellent dairy milk substitutes.
Certain Herbal Teas
Although tea is not typically considered a child-friendly beverage, many herbal teas are safe and healthy for children.
Herbal teas, such as lemongrass, mint, rooibos, and chamomile, are excellent alternatives to sugary beverages due to their lack of caffeine and appealing flavor.
In addition to providing nutritional benefits, herbal teas may also give respite to sick or worried youngsters.
For example, chamomile and lemongrass teas have been used for centuries to calm and comfort anxious children and adults.
Chamomile has also been used as a natural remedy for digestive problems in both children and adults, including nausea, gas, diarrhea, and indigestion.
According to research, chamomile has anti-inflammatory effects and may lessen intestinal inflammation-related symptoms.
Although some herbal teas are deemed safe for children, it is crucial to contact your pediatrician before offering herbal teas to your child.
However, herbal teas are not suitable for infants and should be provided to children at a safe temperature to prevent burning.
Some herbal teas, such as chamomile and mint, can be used as an alternative to sugary beverages that is safe for children.
Beverages to Limit
Although it is acceptable for youngsters to have a sugary beverages on occasion, they should not eat them frequently.
Children who use sweetened beverages on a regular basis, such as soda and sports drinks, may develop obesity and dental caries.
Soda and Sweetened Beverages
Soda and other sweetened beverages, such as sports drinks, sweetened milk, and sweet teas, should be restricted from a child’s diet.
A 12-ounce (354-ml) serving of ordinary Coca-Cola has over 10 teaspoons of sugar or 39 grams of sugar.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that children ages 2 to 18 consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day.
Children who consume sweetened beverages have an elevated risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
In addition, excessive consumption of sweetened beverages might contribute to weight gain and tooth decay in children.
In addition, many sweetened beverages, such as flavored milk, contain high-fructose corn syrup, a processed sweetener that has been related to childhood obesity.
The significant amount of added sugar in sweetened beverages may increase your child’s risk for obesity, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and diabetes.
Even though 100% fruit juice contains crucial vitamins and minerals, children should not consume more than the suggested amount.
Professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend limiting daily juice consumption to 4–6 ounces (120–180 ml) for children aged 1–6 and 8–12 ounces (236–355 ml) for children aged 7–18.
100% fruit juice in this quantity is typically not connected with weight gain.
Yet, excessive consumption of fruit juice is related to an increased risk of childhood obesity.
In addition, some studies have connected the daily consumption of fruit juice by young children to weight increase.
A study of eight trials, for instance, indicated that a daily intake of 100% fruit juice was associated with greater weight gain in children aged 1 to 6 over the course of one year.
Because fruit juice lacks the satisfying fiber found in fresh, whole fruit, it is simple for children to consume excessive amounts of juice.
When possible, children should be provided whole fruit instead of fruit juice.
The AAP recommends that infants under one-year-old have no access to juice.
Although fruit juice contains crucial vitamins and minerals, full fruit should always be preferred.
Numerous young children use caffeinated beverages, including soda, coffee, and energy drinks, which may have negative health impacts.
75% of U.S. children aged 6–19 ingest caffeine, with an average daily intake of 25 mg for children aged 2–11 and 50 mg for those aged 12–17, according to one study.
Caffeine can produce irritability, a quick heart rate, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, and sleep disruptions in children; therefore, beverages containing caffeine should be age-restricted.
Children’s health groups such as the AAP recommend that children over the age of 12 should consume no more than 85–100 mg of caffeine per day, while children under the age of 12 should avoid caffeine entirely.
Parents should be aware that some energy drinks can contain more than 100 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce (354-ml) serving, necessitating the restriction of energy drinks for all children and adolescents in order to prevent excessive caffeination.
Caffeine can cause agitation, anxiety, a high heart rate, and sleep difficulties in children, thus you should limit or prohibit their consumption of caffeinated beverages.