Finding healthy drinks for kids

Published 7:01 am Sunday, August 16, 2015

Looking for healthy drinks for your kids? Look no further than milk and water. Both are full of nutrients and are the best thirst quenchers.

We know the importance of getting kids to eat healthy foods, but what about getting them on board with healthy drinks? What kids drink can greatly affect how many calories they consume and the amount of calcium, which is needed to build strong bones, their bodies get.

The best drinks for preschoolers — and kids of all ages — are milk and water. Whenever possible, discourage your kids from drinking soda and other sugary, calorie-dense drinks.

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Here’s how much calcium kids need every day:

•Toddlers (ages 1 to 3 years): 700 mg of calcium daily

•Kids (ages 4 to 8 years): 1000 mg of calcium daily

•Older kids (ages 9 to 18 years): 1,300 mg of calcium daily

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommendation for milk or equivalent dairy products or fortified soy beverages are:

•Kids (ages 2 to 3) should drink 2 cups every day

•Kids (ages 4 through 8) should drink 2 ½ cups every day

•Kids (ages 9 through 18) should drink 3 cups every day

It’s best to choose fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk. Skim or nonfat milk has the same nutritional value as whole milk — with no fat. Since the fat portion of whole milk does not contain calcium, you can lose the fat without losing the calcium. Reduced-fat (2 percent), low-fat (1 percent) and nonfat milk (skim) have vitamin A and vitamin D added, since these vitamins are lost when the fat is removed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children 2 years of age and older drink low-fat or nonfat milk.

Too much juice, juice drinks, sports drinks and soda can crowd out the water and milk that kids need. Sugary drinks can also pile on calories.

Here’s a quick chart to compare:


8 ounces 0 cal. 0 g sugar

Low-fat milk

8 ounces 100 cal. 11 g sugar

Orange juice

8 ounces 110 cal. 22 g sugar

Juice drink

8 Ounces 150 cal. 28 g sugar

Powdered drink mix

8 ounces 90 cal. 24 g sugar


8 ounces 100 cal. 27 g sugar

If your child likes juice, be sure it’s 100 percent rather than a juice drink that typically has 10 percent fruit juice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no juice for babies up to 6 months old; no more than 2 to 4 ounces per day (serving in a cup) for babies 6 to 12 months old; no more than 4 to 6 ounces per day for kids ages 1 to 6 and no more than 8 to 12 ounces per day for kids 7 to 18 years of age.

When it comes to soda, remember those drinks have no nutritional value and are high in sugar. Drinking soda and other sugary drinks can cause tooth decay. Colas and other sodas often contain caffeine, which is best kept to a minimum.

The effects of a caffeinated beverage on a child will be much more pronounced than on an adult because kids weigh less and are still growing and developing.

Too much caffeine can cause jitteriness, an upset stomach, headaches and sleeping problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics also discourages caffeine consumption for all children. A 12-ounce can of soda or four 1.5-ounce milk chocolate bars can have 45 milligrams of caffeine.

Tropical Toddler Smoothie

Give your kids this simple Tropical Toddler Smoothie for a refreshing summer drink.

Tropical Toddler Smoothie

Tropical Toddler Smoothie

Tropical Toddler Smoothie

All you need:

•1 c. whole milk

•1 c. frozen mango chunks

•5 frozen whole strawberries

•1/2 banana

•1/2 c. Hy-Vee orange juice

 All you do

1. Add all ingredients to blender. Mix until smooth

Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Back to School 2012.