Like many things these days, a trip to the supermarket has a load of items which visually appeal to kids and get them to want to have it. Drinks are the same, with their bright coloured bottles and fun names. But what is the reality behind the attraction? What are the best drinks for kids?
Milk is a traditional kids drink and nothing has changed. Particularly at night, when you send your child to their bedroom with their best pillow and best bedding and favorite toys, you can give them their best drink. Milk is high in calcium and vitamin D, which are both crucial for child’s teeth and bones. If for some reason, your little one isn’t keen on the taste of milk, there are flavourings which can be added, say chocolate or strawberry, but watch the extras in these and avoid them at night. Another option may be to try soy milk, which has the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk but is actually sweeter.
Water is the other drink which needs no introduction. There’s nothing in water, no sugar or fat or additives and if it comes from the tap, it can have fluoride in it which helps stop cavities in teeth. If your family don’t go for the taste of the tap water, add a slice of lemon or orange to it to help with the taste, or try bottled water.
Fruit juices are a bit of a balancing act. There are huge amounts of goodness in fruit juice but there is also quite a bit of natural sugar. So, it is a case of better the best of both. Research has shown that a toddler who drinks 4-6 ounces of pure fruit juice each day will get all the nutrients but will not gain any weight. Depending on the fruit in it, juices can provide iron, potassium, magnesium and vitamins B6 and C but having too much can actually stop their appetite for other foods.
Making fruit into smoothies with other ingredients can be another option for the kids. Watch the balance again with how much you let them drink and what you add to the fruit, so consider things such as soy milk or ice. It can even be a way to get vegetables into a child who is otherwise not a fan but masking them in with strong flavoured fruits.
Drinks to avoid
While they look colourful and inviting, many fruit drinks and fizzy drinks can be high in fat or sugar or both so are generally avoided for children, especially on an evening. Sports and energy drinks can be astonishingly high and can cause obesity as well as tooth decay.
Anything which contains caffeine is another think to avoid, and sometimes we forget just how many things have caffeine in it. Caffeine is a stimulant so can send kids a bit hyperactive during the day, let along at night so keep away from coffee, iced tea, vitamin waters and sodas, even such as orange. Caffeine in children has been shown to cause headaches and difficulty in concentrating as well as the effects on adults, so check the content of a drink before giving it to the kids, as it is surprising just what has caffeine in.
These are just a few basic ideas about what drinks may be good or not so good for the children in your household. There are exceptions to every rule so always read the labels on the drinks as a good drink may be bad and a bad drink may be good. But keep an eye out for hidden caffeine, especially at bedtime!