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Niche Topics (Pregnancy and Kids) is all about practical parenting advice and parenting skills to help you deal with common parenting challenges from toddlerhood to teen years. You’ll find tons of healthy food ideas and easy-to-make kids meals, fun activity ideas and creative crafts projects that kids love to do and play!

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How to Choose Healthy Kids Drinks



By Martha Sanders


When talking about healthy meal choices for kids, most parents are particularly concerned about food rather than drinks. Parents often neglect the importance of beverages in their kids' diet. Take a walk along the beverage aisles of your local supermarket and you are likely to find a wide variety of beverages, fighting for attention. It is indeed difficult to distinguish healthy kids drinks from the unhealthy ones. Some beverages deemed suitable for kids are in fact not that healthy. They are full of refined sugars, colorings, preservatives and offer lttle or no nutrients.


Most nutritionists agree that abstaining from soda drinks, cordials, energy drinks and sugar-laden fruit juices is the best thing you can do for helping keep your kids healthy. Sugary drinks are linked to obesity, tooth decay, skin problems and poor concentration.


While most parents recognize that milk is a healthy drink but there seems to be confusion about other beverage choices, especially 100 percent fruit juices and fruit drinks. Let's take a step further and look at some drinks we commonly give our kids.


Plain milk is a great choice because it is packed with essential Vitamin D and calcium for developing strong bones, and protein for energy along with many other nutrients essential for growing bodies.


Kids up to age two should drink whole milk. After that, they can advance to semi-skimmed as long as they also have a good, varied diet. It is not advisable that parents give skimmed milk to kids until they are at least five years old.


If your kid dislike the taste of milk, flavored milks are still considered as healthy drinks but more often than not, they are likely to be sweetened. So it is best to limit your kid's intake to once a day, and always serve with a meal.


When buying fruit juices, look for unsweetened 100 percent pure juices. Avoid juices labeled as juice drink which may contain as little as 5 percent juice and be sweetened with more sugar than a can of cola!


While 100 percent fruit juices and sweetened fruit drinks may have about the same number of calories, your kids will get more vitamins and nutrients from 100 percent fruit juice.


Be aware that even pure unsweetened fruit juices have some natural fruit sugars in them which can cause tooth decay. These fruit juices are best drunk at mealtimes and not sipped throughout the day, when they are more likely to damage young teeth. Limit kids to one glass of pure juice a day which counts towards their five portions of fruit and vegetables.


Most kids love fruit smoothies and many parents think smoothies are great – the fruit content in smoothies can make them seem like a good idea. However, fruits contain very high levels of sugar, and acid which can do quite a bit of damage to the teeth.


For best nutritional values, look for varieties made from whole fruit and not concentrate. Smoothies can be expensive so if you are watching your wallet, try making fruit smoothies at home without adding sugar, and offer it to your kids as a once a week lunchbox treat.


Fruit squashes is another unwise sweet choice providing poor nutrition, loads of refined sugars and it is best avoided. If you want to give your kid fruit squashes, always check nutrition labels and choose low sugar/high juice varieties. Remember to dilute with water and serve fruit squashes with meals only.


Most kids and young adults today consume way too much sugar and most of it comes from carbonated drinks than anything else. Fruit drinks, colas, ‘sports drinks’ are low in nutrients, high in additives and often sweetened with cane sugar. One can of non-diet cola contains close to 10 teaspoons of sugar!


Drinking too many soft drinks has been linked to skin problems, bad teeth, obesity, poor concentration and, in adolescent girls, lowered bone density. If giant bottles of fizzy drinks are frequent on your grocery list, resolve to stop buying them now and switch to healthy drinks for kids. You can approach this unhealthy habit by first cutting down to ease your family off, then cut carbonated drinks completely out, once and for all.


Water is always the best drink for kids. Good old tap water replenishes moisture lost in sweat, helps the body eliminate waste, and transports oxygen and nutrients in the bloodstream.


Your kids should always have easy access to water and should have more plain water than any other drinks during the day (and more during summer). You should encourage your kids to carry water bottles with them to school.


If kids are not interested in plain water, try sparkling mineral water, add a slice of lemon or lime or a dash of pure fruit juice for flavor. If you're unsure of water quality, always boil and cool water before drinking.





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