Is it OK to give my children juice and sports drinks?

by Dr. Janine Rethy, American Academy of Pediatrics

Credit: Unsplash / CC0 Public Domain

Q: My kids really don’t like drinking water. Can I give them juice and sports drinks instead?

A: Along with milk, plain water is the best beverage choice for children. Why? It’s super healthy, with no calories and no added sugars. It helps keep joints, bones and teeth healthy, aids blood circulation and can help children stay healthy in adulthood. Being well hydrated improves mood, memory and attention in children. And of course tap water is much cheaper than sports drinks, soft drinks and juice.

Water doesn’t have to be boring! There are plenty of ways to entice everyone in the family to drink healthy and stay hydrated throughout the day. Being a good role model is a great way to make water part of your kids’ routine and get them in the habit of drinking water before they get thirsty. Here are a few twists to add some fun:

Pour water with lemons, berries, cucumber or mint for some extra flavor. This is an easy way to keep the whole family coming back for the top up. Keep fruits and vegetables with a high water content on hand. Some of the best vegetables are cucumber, zucchini, iceberg lettuce, celery, and tomato. Top fruits include watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, and grapefruit. Freeze fruit in ice cubes to spice up your drinks. Young children can help fill the containers. Relieve children with special water bottles or cups. Whether it’s a personalized sports bottle or a pretty cup with an umbrella or a swirly straw, adding a festive touch can make all the difference. Make your own mashed fruit popsicles for an afternoon cool off. Make it a fun family activity by using small paper cups and let your kids decorate them or find popsicle molds in fun shapes and colors.

Water and milk are all drinks kids need, so don’t believe all the hype surrounding many of the other drinks on the market. These usually contain much more sugar than children need per day and can contribute to poor health. Here’s what to avoid:

Sugary drinks: Set a rule that no sugar-sweetened drinks are allowed for children under 2 years old. And try to limit them as much as possible for your older children. This includes sports drinks, juice cocktails, soda, lemonade, and sweetened water. These drinks discourage the habit of drinking plain water and can add extra empty calories to the diet. They can also make your kids less hungry for the nutritious foods they really need. Added sugars can lead to obesity, cavities, diabetes and more.

Juice: Even 100% juice should be strictly limited. While it may contain some vitamins, these drinks are high in sugar and calories and low in the healthy fiber found in whole fruits. Because of its sweet taste, it can be difficult to get children to drink plain water once they are offered juice. Flavored Milk: While it has calcium and vitamins, flavored milk can have a lot more sugar. These added sugars should be avoided to discourage a preference for sweet flavors, which can make it difficult to offer regular milk. these drinks. Instead, make water readily available to encourage healthy hydration.

Many parents ask how much fluid do children need. After about 6 months, babies can come into contact with water. They only need four to eight ounces a day until they are a year old, as the rest of their fluids come from breast milk or formula.

To stay well hydrated, children aged 1-3 need about four cups of drinks per day, including water or milk. This increases to about five cups for ages 4-8 for older children and 7-8 cups for older children. These amounts vary from person to person and may need to be adjusted depending on activity levels and outdoor heat and humidity.

Not drinking water can stimulate the consumption of sugary drinks by children

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