Best Drink Options for Kids

infused water

Some parenting decisions can be so easy (Your kids have to wear their coat in the winter, no practicing baseball next to the TV, no waterslides inside, etc.) and some decisions are just plain difficult.

Most of the difficult decisions relate to food. Right?

It was SO EASY when they were babies! Mash up a fruit or veggie and you’re good to go. You could make every single decision FOR THEM and everything was just awesome.

Once your kids start to get a little older, all the questions start creeping in. And not just the ones you’re asking yourself…but the ones form your kids!

Can I have juice?

What about pop at the birthday party?

Can I have chocolate milk after hockey practice? The commercial says it’s good for me!

Sigh. Decisions, decisions.

I’m going to break down all the drinks that are really good for your kids, athletic or not.

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is: Kids are adaptable and even if you’re giving your kids sugar-loaded drinks right now, they can learn to stay hydrated in better ways.

The bad news is this: Your kids really don’t NEED sports drinks, pop, chocolate milk, or juice in their life.

GASP.

I know, I know. Extreme, right? I get it. But hear me out.

I’m not saying you can’t treat them every once in a while but here’s the thing: it is a TREAT. Yes, my kids get juice every once in a while. I try to make it the best quality juice I can, and they appreciate that it is simply that, a TREAT. Once you see my children suck back a juice box at a birthday party, you’ll understand why I limit it-they could drink a GALLON of juice in under a minute. That’s a lot of sugar, natural or not. That said, yes…my kids occasionally have juice so don’t yell at me if you see them drinking it…or chocolate milk. I’m not evil.

Here’s my breakdown:

Juice

juice

I don’t care if it’s from concentrate, organic, freshly squeezed, or punch. It’s full of sugar and should not be given to kids each and every day. I realize that some kids do not like drinking water. Sometimes adding a little juice to water to keep them hydrated is a necessity, especially if they’re young. Try to slowly wean them off the juice to have them eventually drinking water. I send my kids to school every day with a reusable water bottle. If I find they’re not drinking very much, I send them with a straw. Problem solved. A straw seems to be the trick!

Sports Drinks

sports drink

I’m sorry, but these are unnecessary. You have better options than sugar filled (or artificially sweetened) sports drinks. Not to mention they’re filled with artificial colourings that no one needs in their diet. Better options include coconut water, a squeeze from a real orange, lemon or lime into water, or eating a piece of fruit (like a banana) and hydrating with, you guessed it, plain old water! I understand that you want to give your kids the best-and the last thing you want is for them to have muscle cramps or feel unwell, but in the long run-giving sports drinks to your kids is going to keep them coming back for more and craving more sugar.

Energy drinks

I’m sure you can guess my opinion on these as well. Kids don’t need energy drinks. If kids are properly hydrated, getting enough sleep, and eating a well balanced diet, this should not be a part of their lives. Period. ESPECIALLY young kids.

Pop

pop

You already know what I’m going to say here. There is nothing good about pop. Nothing. It is pure and total junk. Here are the typical ingredients: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors, Caffeine.

Mmmmm. Bleh.

If you want to fuel your body for any reason, pop is not going to do it. There is an obesity epidemic happening to our children and pop is one of the main reasons for this problem. It’s true, read more about it here: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact-sheet/

Avoid pop. Just avoid it. Please. Do your family a favour and strike it from your diet completely.

Chocolate Milk

milk

I know, I know. All the commercials say chocolate milk is great after a workout or for athletic kids. But why does it have to be chocolate? If you’re not adverse to milk products, just plain old milk is a better option. And at the very least, it’s got vitamins, minerals, and protein to help your kids.

That said, if you’re going to give your kids a treat or something sweet-chocolate milk is better than juice.

Yes, I said that. The reason is: Although juice typically contains lots of vitamin C, milk contains protein, calcium, and B vitamins. Plus one cup of chocolate milk and one cup of juice has about the same amount of sugar but milk has more to offer. If you take away the chocolate, milk only has about 13g of sugar so really, it seems like the better choice, no?

Water

infused water

The ABSOLUTE BEST hydration you can get for you and your family is plain old water. You can get it anywhere, it’s free and it’s the best for your body. Try infusing water with berries, citrus or cucumber if you want to spice things up. Skip the flavoured water options or special bottles of water that are just putting holes in your pockets. Stick with water in a reusable bottle and you can’t lose.

You know I preach balance and I’m no different when it comes to juice and chocolate milk. Like I said, my kids do get juice and chocolate milk sometimes but I do draw the line at pop. I know later on in life, I will have less control, but for right now I’m lucky-my kids find fizzy drinks “spicy” and avoid them all on their own! You have to do what works for your family but limiting the amount of sugar your kids are DRINKING is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And it’s a realistic and simple approach if you’re looking for one or two ways to get a little healthier this year.

What sorts of drinks do you give your kids? Have you found an alternative that works for your family? Tell me about it!