Keep Children Hydrated the Healthy Way

photo credit:  North Charleston .

photo credit: North Charleston.


The average American eats about 3,550 pounds of sugar in a lifetime; this is the equivalent of 1,767,900 skittles, which is enough to fill an industrial-sized dumpster. The top sugar offenders are beverages with added sugar such as fruit juices, sports drinks, and sodas. Packed with sugar and decorated with fun colors, sugary drinks are a top pick for kids compared to the healthier water option.

Drinks with added sugar have poor nutritional value and contribute to cavities, obesity, and other health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. An individual can gain approximately 16 pounds in one year by drinking just one 12-ounce can of soda daily!

The Not-So-Sweet Facts

Children in the United States are consuming about one third of a cup of added sugar daily, which is more than three times the recommended serving for children over the age of two, according to the American Heart Association. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages completely from children’ diets and instead promotes the consumption of whole fruits and water.

The current guidelines recommend that for children between the ages of 1-3 years of age, there should be a limit of 4 ounces per day; for children between the ages of 4-6, a limit of 6 ounces per day. For older children and teens, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that they should not consume more than 8 ounces per day of sugar packed drinks.

Sugar-sweetened beverages have low levels of nutritional value in comparison to other drinks, such as milk. In fact, many children are not getting enough calcium and vitamin D in their daily diets. It is important for caregivers to select food and drinks that contain calcium and vitamin D to meet a child’s nutrient needs for growth and development. This chart compares milk and orange juice in terms of vitamin A and D, phosphorus, protein, and calcium. If you are concerned about the type of milk your child should be consuming, read Jill Castle’s “Milk Nutrition Showdown,” and get your free milk comparison chart!

Water Alternatives

 The summer heat requires more hydration and water should be the top pick among parents, caregivers, and children. When a child refuses water, consider offering fruits and vegetables with high-water contents. These fruits and vegetables can be incorporated into their diets,since kids love to eat them on a hot summer day!

Top Fruits and Vegetables Loaded with Water

  • Watermelon

  • Cucumber

  • Strawberries

  • Iceberg lettuce

  • Grapefruit

  • Celery

  • Cantaloupe

  • Radishes

  • Peaches

  • Tomatoes

  • Pineapple

  • Cauliflower

  • Orange

  • Green Peppers

  • Raspberries

  • Spinach

  • Blueberries

  • Broccoli

  • Apricots

  • Zucchini

Fun Recipes for Hydration

Here are some activities you can enjoy with kids to incorporate more water into their system in a nourishing way:

Juice Ice Cubes:

  1. Make some fruits and vegetable juices and then ice them up into ice cubes.

  2. Take out the ice cubes and set them in a cooler.

  3. Fill up cups with water.

  4. Let your children decide which ice cubes they want to add into their water. Enjoy!

Fruit Pops:

  1. Cut fruit or vegetable of your choice into small chunks.

  2. Set the chunks with 1 lemon juice in a blender.

  3. Add almond milk (or your desired milk) and mix well.

  4. Set in a popsicle tray in the freezer overnight. Enjoy!

Eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages is a small change with big impact on a child’s life and long-term health. Encourage your child to consume water along with whole fruits and vegetables that will keep them hydrated without the extra calories!