Here’s what your child should be drinking.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
When it comes to our children’s dietary habits, their drink choices might take second place over the food they eat. As parents, we might ensure they are consuming enough servings of fruits and vegetables, and we try to avoid letting them eat too much greasy and fatty foods. This is all well and good, but what our children are drinking is an essential component of their dietary habits too as it can have a significant impact on their overall health.
Do Drink These
The two main drink choices best for children are water and milk.
Water is, of course, the healthiest drink as it does not contain any calories and added sugar. According to Kellie Kong, dietitian, Nutrition and Dietetics Department, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, children from four to six years old should consume five to seven cups of total fluids a day – water should make up at least three to five cups of this total fluid intake (one cup = 25Oml).
Your child’s total fluid intake may also include other
types of liquids including milk, juice and soup.
“It should be noted that some children can be adequately hydrated at levels below or above the recommendation provided. In general, a child should drink enough to ensure good hydration status. Signs of dehydration to look out for include reduced urine output and dark-coloured urine,” emphasises Kong.
Milk forms a vital part of your child’s diet too because it “provides protein, calcium and several other nutrients that are important for growing children”, says Meave Graham, registered dietitian, formerly of Child Nutrition Singapore. For instance, the high levels of calcium in milk contributes to the development of your child’s teeth and bones. Kong recommends four to six-year-old children to drink two cups of reduce fat milk daily to satisfy their calcium requirements. Just be sure that your child does not drink too much milk during his meal times as milk can make your child feel fuller. Try as much as possible to offer your child plain milk instead of flavoured milk because the latter contains higher levels of added sugars.
What about Fruit Juices?
Fruit juices contain fruits, so they must be pretty healthy drink options for children, right? This is a common misconception many people have, but in fact, fruit juices are not as healthy as we think they are. This is due to two reasons, the first being the natural sugars found in fresh fruits become concentrated during the process of making fruit juices, which can lead to an increase in blood glucose levels.
Secondly, the process of making fruit juices leads to a loss in dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is an important nutrient as it helps to lower the levels of glucose and blood cholesterol in the body, as well as aids in moving food through the digestive system, thus preventing constipation.
Therefore, try to offer your child fresh fruits,
rather than letting him drink fruit juices.
“Based on recent recommendations from the American Academy of Paediatrics, it is advised to avoid offering juice to children in the first year of life and restrict fruit juice to 110ml daily for children one to three years, and 170ml for children four to six years,” says Kong.