Studies show that young children who drink too many sweetened drinks have a greater risk of becoming overweight or obese. There are many hidden sugars, calories and additives in sugary drinks. Even some of those marketed towards very young children have proven to contain a shocking amount of undesirable ingredients.
What is better?
There is nothing more naturally hydrating and thirst quenching than clean cool water.
We are lucky to have so many options when we think about providing our little ones with safe and hydrating fluids. However, packaged fruit juices, cordials, fizzy drinks, sports drinks and even flavoured mineral waters are often packed with unnecessary and unhealthy sweeteners and additives.
Unlike many manufactured drinks, water will not cause dental decay and the addition of fluoride in our tap water is beneficial to the development of teeth and bones.
Drinking more of the good stuff
It’s all very well saying, “Water is best, make your kids drink plain water,” but children are often drawn to the exciting colours, flavours and packaging designs of the sugary commercial brands.
Here are some tips & tricks for encouraging your little ones (and the whole family) to choose the much-underrated H2O as often as possible.
- Serve water in colourful and fun cups and jugs. You can add shaped ice cubes and straws or stirrers, and some sliced fruit for extra-healthy flavour.
- Always have a jug or bottle of chilled water on the table at mealtimes and encourage other family members to drink water too.
- Pack a bottle of chilled/frozen water in picnics and lunchboxes. After lots of running around an extra-cold drink is even more tempting.
- Carry a fresh bottle of tap water whenever you go out and about. If you or your little ones are thirsty you will be less tempted to buy bottled/canned drinks on the run.
- Try not to keep sweetened drinks and cordials at home. Keep the icebox full and have healthy additives available: lemon, lime, orange, mint, cucumber…
- When serving squash or juices use smaller glasses or water them down – many are so concentrated that they encourage children to develop a ‘sweet tooth’.
Fruit instead of juice
Packaged fruit juice sometimes requires additives to extend its shelf life, and many of the production processes rob the juice of its natural nutrients. Some contain extra sugars, colours and flavourings.
Juicing fruit at home and adding water is a great way to make fresh, healthy drinks that do not contain any of these additives, but eating the fruits as a snack (along with a glass of water) is even better.
Whole fruit contains natural sugars, making it taste great, while also boasting plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Water should not replace milk. Milk plays an important part in infant nutrition and while still being around 90% water, it is the largest contributor of calcium in our diet. Milk helps children to grow strong teeth and bones, and contains many vital vitamins and minerals. Milk should be provided in addition to water, as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
At the Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare centres in NSW water is provided to the children throughout the day and is made available for children to access at any time; milk is served at meal times, but artificially sweetened drinks are never on offer.