Understanding the role of different beverages in an active, healthy lifestyle can help those who care for children offer beverages in a way that supports children’s growth, development, and long-term health.
All beverages contribute to hydration, which is important for children and adults alike. Most children can meet their hydration needs by drinking when thirsty and with meals. However, children can be susceptible to dehydration when playing outdoors in the heat, making scheduled beverage breaks important.
Some beverages are also good sources of nutrients that tend to be low in children’s diets. Beverages like milk, some fortified juices and soy beverages are a convenient way for children to get bone-building nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. Many fruit juices also provide vitamin C, an antioxidant nutrient that helps keep gums healthy and boosts iron absorption.
It’s also important to help children maintain a healthy weight as they grow, which requires both a sensible diet and regular physical activity. Because all calories count, including those from beverages, being mindful about the portion size and nutritional content of beverages offered to children is important. And, because healthy habits start early, it’s important to encourage children to be physically activity and adopt habits that promote good nutrition and dental health, as well as develop positive relationships and a positive outlook.