While getting your child to eat nutritious foods can be challenging, finding healthy — yet appealing — beverages for your little ones can prove just as difficult.
Most children have a sweet tooth and are prone to asking for sugary beverages. However, guiding them towards more balanced options is important for their overall health.
Here are 7 healthy drinks for kids — as well as 3 beverages to avoid.
When your child tells you they’re thirsty, you should always offer water first.
This is because water is critical to health and necessary for countless vital processes in your child’s body, including temperature regulation and organ function
In fact, in relation to body weight, children have greater water requirements than adults due to their rapidly growing body and higher metabolic rate
Unlike many other drinks, water won’t provide liquid calories, making it less likely that your child will feel full and refuse solid food. This can be especially important if you have a picky eater.
What’s more, drinking enough water is linked to healthy body weight, reduced risk of dental cavities, and improved brain function in children
Additionally, dehydration can negatively impact your child’s health in many ways, potentially reducing brain function, causing constipation, and leading to fatigue
SUMMARYWater is essential to your child’s health and should make up the majority of their fluid intake.
Because plain water may seem boring, it’s possible that your child may dislike this essential fluid.
You can try out many flavor combinations to find one that your child enjoys.
Plus, your child will get a boost of nutrition from the fresh fruit and herbs used in the water.
Some winning combinations include:
- Pineapple and mint
- Cucumber and watermelon
- Blueberries and raspberries
- Strawberries and lemon
- Orange and lime
Get your child involved by letting them choose a favorite flavor pairing and help add the ingredients to the water.
Stores even sell reusable water bottles with built-in infusers, which can help your child stay hydrated when away from home.
SUMMARYTo make water enticing for your child, add fresh fruit and herbs to provide fun colors and flavors.
Although coconut water does contain calories and sugar, it makes a healthier choice than other beverages like soda and sports drinks.
Coconut water provides a good amount of several nutrients, including vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium — all of which are important for children
It also contains electrolytes — such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium — which are lost through sweat during exercise.
This makes coconut water an excellent hydration alternative to sugary sports drinks for active children
Coconut water is also beneficial when your child is sick, especially if they need to rehydrate after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.
However, it’s important to carefully read the label when purchasing coconut water, as some brands contain added sugars and artificial flavors.
Plain, unsweetened coconut water is always the best choice for children.
SUMMARYCoconut water is rich in nutrients and electrolytes, making it an excellent choice for helping children rehydrate after sickness or physical activity.
Smoothies are a scrumptious way to sneak fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods into your child’s diet.
While some premade smoothies are loaded with sugar, homemade smoothies — as long as they’re rich in nutritious ingredients — make excellent choices for children.
Smoothies can be especially helpful for parents dealing with picky eaters. Many vegetables — such as kale, spinach, and even cauliflower — can be blended into a sweet-tasting smoothie that your child will love.
Some kid-friendly smoothie combinations include:
- Kale and pineapple
- Spinach and blueberries
- Peach and cauliflower
- Strawberries and beets
Blend the ingredients with unsweetened non-dairy or dairy-based milk and use healthy add-ins like hemp seeds, cocoa powder, unsweetened coconut, avocados, or ground flax seeds.
Avoid purchasing smoothies at grocery stores or restaurants, as these may contain added sugars, and opt for homemade versions whenever possible.
Since smoothies are high in calories, offer them as a snack or alongside a small meal.
SUMMARYHomemade smoothies are an excellent way to increase your child’s consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Even though many children prefer sweetened milk drinks like chocolate or strawberry milk, plain, unsweetened milk makes the healthiest choice for kids.
Plain milk is highly nutritious, providing many nutrients that are critical for growth and development.
For example, milk contains protein, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium — essential nutrients for bone health that are especially important for growing children .
Additionally, milk is often fortified with vitamin D, another important vitamin for
While many parents tend to give children fat-free milk, milk with a higher fat content may be healthier for younger children, as fat is needed for proper brain development and overall growth
In fact, children have a higher need for fat than adults, due to an increased rate of metabolism
For these reasons, higher-fat milk choices, such as 2% fat milk, makes a better choice than skim milk for most children.
However, it’s important to note that drinking too much milk can cause children to become full, potentially causing them to consume less of their meal or snack
To ensure that your child doesn’t become overly full on milk before eating food, only offer a small portion of milk at mealtime.
While milk can be a nutritious drink choice, many children are intolerant to dairy milk. Signs of milk intolerance include bloating, diarrhea, gas, skin rashes, and abdominal cramps
Speak to your pediatrician if you suspect a milk intolerance.