Bridget Benelam, Senior Nutrition Scientist said “We know there is a lot of confusion about how much and what children should be drinking. Water is a great choice to keep children hydrated, but other drinks like milk, juices and soft drinks can contribute too. It’s just important to be aware of the calorie content of drinks and the potential impact on dental health so that parents and carers can help children to develop healthy drinking habits.”
Getting kids to drink water instead of sugar and acid filled drinks is the first step towards a healthier childhood. The acid and sugar content in fizzy drinks, juices, and lemonades contributes to childhood obesity and tooth decay. Dehydration in children is common as well. To fight all these negative effects, you only need to do one thing: drink water.
Water is the healthy, natural choice. The human body is made up of more water than anything else. You need water to keep your muscles moving, your blood pumping, and your brain functioning. Dehydrated children have lower test scores and a harder time concentrating. They also have increased problems with coordination and motor function.
Even if your child prefers other drinks to water, you should still insist they drink at least some water every day. Here are five ways to help your child to drink more water:
1. Start young – The younger you start children out on water, the easier it will be for them to have a healthy water habit throughout their life. Even babies can and should be given water in their bottles. A healthy lifestyle starts from birth, so it is never too early for your children to drink water.
2. Fun straws and cups – Make drinking water fun by having a special water cup or straw. It can have their favorite cartoon character on it or just be swirly and fun to watch as they suck the water up the straw. The more fun you make it, the more water they will drink without even noticing.
3. Natural flavor – If your child insists that they hate the ‘flavor’ of water, then you can add some natural flavorings. A few drops of orange or lemon juice add a negligible amount of sugar and acid but can flavor a whole glass. Fresh fruit and berries are also a good choice and make the water look festive.
4. Hot or Cold – Make sure when you give your children water that it is cold. Ice water is much tastier and more pleasurable to drink than lukewarm water. If it is a cold day, you can give them hot water to drink flavored with ginger, orange, or lemon. Hot or cold, water is the best drink for children and adults.
5. Habit –Make drinking water a habit. Set time aside for rehydration, especially after outdoor play and physical activity. Children should make it a habit to drink water all day long, and, eventually, will come to crave water instead of the other drink choices. The human body knows how good water is, you just have to make your children aware of what their body is really craving.
Healthy drinking makes for a healthier lifestyle and a longer, more active life. Encourage your children to drink lots of water every day. Remember, you are your child’s best example. If they see you properly hydrating, they are more likely to drink water too.
Evidence from the University of East London found that older students who brought water into their exams performed academically better than those who went without.
The amount of fluid a child needs depends on many factors including age, gender, weather and how much physical activity they undertake but generally they should aim to drink about 6-8 glasses of fluid per day.
1.Children should aim to have 6-8 drinks per day which should ideally be water but milk, weak squash and diluted fruit juices are also good choices.
2.Put a bottle of water in lunchboxes as this is the fluid that the BNF advises drinking ‘plenty of’.
3.Children should be encouraged to sip fluids at regular intervals throughout the day i.e. a lot of children drink fluids at the end of the day when feelings of dehydration have already started to set in.
Thank you to Kelsey Clark our guest blogger today of www.findananny.net