Is drinking soda getting better for you?

Healthy drinks: what children should and shouldn't drink

Fluid is the basis of a healthy diet

A look at our food pyramids reveals that, in terms of quantity, drinks are the most important food for young and old.

Here you can find our food pyramids free to download or print: vegetarian food pyramid, vegan food pyramid). Photo: SevenCooks

But young parents are sometimes insecure what and how much they should offer their child to drink. You will find numerous tips for child-friendly meals in the media. On the other hand, when it comes to healthy drinks for children, well-founded recommendations are few and far between.

So that you better understand why fluids are indispensable and the alpha and omega of a wholesome diet, we will explain the most important functions of water to you. You will find out which drinks are suitable for children and why products containing sugar are not suitable for quenching thirst. In addition, we will give you a few recipe inspirations for your little darling that are suitable for everyday use.

Why is it important to have enough fluids?

Our body is made up of about 70 percent - that of babies even up to 85 percent - from water and every single cell is dependent on sufficient fluid. In order for all functions to run smoothly, we need constant supplies, regardless of whether they are babies or senior citizens.

The body fluids consist of almost 100 percent water.

As a transport and solvent, our blood can only optimally supply all organs with nutrients and active ingredients if it is thin enough.

In addition, water is also indispensable as a reaction partner in biochemical processes.

When they arrive at the target organ, micronutrients, messenger substances and other substances depend on the organs being adequately supplied with blood. Otherwise, vital hormones and the like cannot work to their full extent. In addition, the organ function is restricted by a lack of fluids.

Why water is so important to children

This aspect is doubly true for children, as their water content in the body is increased. In order for their digestive function to function properly and nutrients to be broken down efficiently, fluids for gastric juice or bile are essential. The chyme swells better because of the water and the partly vital components can be better utilized by the body.

In addition, water intensifies the natural feeling of satiety, since fiber from food swells up better and signals to our brain that “I am full”.

Thus, a sufficiently high amount of water is also ideally suited to prevent obesity in children and adults.

But the lymph fluid and the kidneys also need fluid in order to remove metabolic end products, toxins and other undesirable substances from our body.

In addition, our body needs water to compensate for the loss of perspiration when sweating and to ensure a constant body temperature. For example, water - in this context preferably in a lukewarm version - protects the child's body from overheating during intense romping in midsummer.

Why pure water is the best thirst quencher

I would recommend that you only offer your child unsweetened drinks to quench their thirst from the start. When you start eating porridge - or when you gradually replace milk with complementary foods - your baby needs additional liquid.

For further reading:Getting started with complementary foods - this is how you can easily make baby food yourself

It makes sense to offer your child only pure water. This allows you to specifically promote the natural taste sensation. If, on the other hand, children are given sugary drinks, it will be difficult to get them used to water later because the familiar sweet taste is missing.

The risk of tooth decay also increases when consuming sugary drinks. Sugar can cause initial damage even in babies who do not yet have teeth. This is all the more true when sugary drinks are offered in the bottle.

Tap water or mineral water?

As a healthy drink for children, tap water is the best choice. Mineral water can also supplement the need for minerals, but is not absolutely necessary for a nutrient-rich diet.

If you and your child cannot tolerate dairy products or if you consciously want to avoid them, I would recommend using a calcium-rich mineral water to quench your thirst.

While suitable for toddlers (= from the first to the fourth birthday) Still, not too cold water is more suitable, in my opinion it is perfectly okay for older children to drink cool sparkling water. In this case, personal preferences should come first.

For example, I find carbonated, ice-cold water from a water maker with a dash of lemon very refreshing and delicious. Those who eat a plant-based diet do not need to worry about acidification from fizzy drinks.

Is Juice Healthy For My Child?

The "rumor" still lingers that juice is healthy and provides your child with numerous vitamins and minerals. It is true that freshly squeezed juices or not-from-concentrate juices in particular are rich in micronutrients. Compared to soda or iced tea, they actually do significantly better in terms of nutrient content.

A look at the sugar and calorie content, however, makes it clear that there are no major differences between juice and soft drinks: They both contain a lot of sugar, usually over 10%.

In this context, it does not matter whether the sugar comes from fruit or from the bag.

Nevertheless, when it comes to nutritional quality, high-quality juice is clearly ahead of the pack when it comes to soda & co. Industrial lemonade is ultimately nothing more than colored sugar water, which often contains other additives. In order to hide the unhealthy "soul", soft drinks are preferably printed with fresh oranges and lemons and enriched with artificial vitamins.

Perhaps you are now wondering whether you can offer your child juice or not? There is nothing wrong with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with an extra portion of vitamin C in the morning. The same applies to naturally cloudy apple juice, which provides your child with vitamins and minerals.

However, juice is not suitable as a permanent thirst quencher.

Tip: After drinking juice, it is important that your child always drinks some water or rinses their mouths with water to rinse the fructose and acid off their teeth. Avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes, as the fruit acid is otherwise particularly harmful.

In terms of sustainability, it also makes a difference if you compare, for example, naturally cloudy organic apple juice from the region in a glass bottle with a highly processed soft drink from a plastic bottle.

In general, for the sake of nature, it makes sense to buy drinks only in glass bottles. This also reduces the risk that harmful plastic pollutants such as the plasticizer BPA (bisphenol A) pass into the drink.

Tip: Even if the term nectar suggests otherwise, fruit nectar - just like a fruit juice drink - is enriched with sugar and is not recommended.

Juice spritzer as a healthier alternative to pure juice?

With regard to the sugar and calorie content, it of course makes a difference whether your child drinks pure juice or a diluted juice spritzer. From a nutritional point of view, nothing speaks against a heavily diluted juice spritzer.

Nevertheless, I would recommend that you consistently use water between meals to quench your thirst. Even the smallest amounts of juice can increase the risk of tooth decay.

Even if the amount of calories in a heavily diluted spritzer is not very important: the sugar it contains stimulates the release of insulin and can thus stimulate the appetite. This not only activates fat storage, but the body cannot benefit from the valuable food break, which has positive effects on health such as cell protection and the like.

While I would recommend adults to take a culinary break of at least four hours, in my opinion it is enough for children two to three hours out. In intensive development and growth phases, some children simply need a small, wholesome snack in between.

How do I get my child to drink water?

Your child doesn't want to drink water, just juice? Explain to your child, according to their age, why water is a better choice to quench their thirst. In addition, the following tip has proven itself to slowly accustom your child's taste sensation to pure water:

Dilute your child's favorite juice step by step with a little wateruntil you get a ratio of about a part of juice and two to three parts of water receive. This “juicing” process can take several weeks. You can then arrange with your child that he or she drinks this spritzer with meals and quenches his thirst with water in between.

However, these tips only work if you act as a role model for your child and, with a few exceptions, only drink water.

Tip: You can spice up water almost sugar-free with fresh herbs and fruit à la Infused Water.

Try our infused water with pomegranate and mint. Photo: SevenCooks

Always keep water close at hand

Children should always have the opportunity to have a drink. This not only applies in your own four walls, but also in day nurseries, day care centers or schools. Because drinking enough is an indispensable part of a wholesome diet.

It is important that the water is ready to hand at eye level and that even small children in the crèche can help themselves if necessary. In the meantime, the sensible trend has established itself that in many schools a water dispenser or a crate of mineral water is placed in the classroom.

Which drinks are not suitable for children?

By and large, the same recommendations apply as for adults. Sugared, granulated tea beverages are absolutely unsuitablethat can even be found on the baby shelf next to baby food jars.

The same applies to sugared lemonade, iced tea and other soft drinks. If you allow your child to have a soda on special occasions, I think it's completely unproblematic and definitely better than imposing strict prohibitions. These can provoke cravings for sweets and even trigger eating disorders.

Tip: For a children's birthday party, prepare a natural lemonade made of freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice and some honey, which you can chill in the refrigerator overnight. Pour the fruity base on the next day just before serving with cold sparkling water.

Beverages containing caffeine such as coffee, green and black tea or mate tea with stimulating effects are not suitable for children. The same applies to cola or energy drinks, which in addition to sugar sometimes contain large amounts of caffeine.

Since cocoa beans also contain certain amounts of caffeine, cocoa does not make sense as an evening drink for children.

It should be clear that alcohol is not suitable for children.

Tip: Alcohol should not be used even for cooking, even if it should evaporate completely through prolonged cooking. Because even the aroma of alcohol can be too Habituation effects run the risk of one subsequent alcohol abuse increase.

Artificial sweeteners have no place in beverages for young and old. They do not contain any fattening or cariogenic (caries-causing) sugar, but they are miles away from a natural and sustainable diet. Whether and to what extent artificial sweeteners pose a health risk has not yet been conclusively clarified.

In addition, although sweeteners do not increase blood sugar levels, they are suspected of promoting appetite and thus obesity despite the low-calorie recipe. Not to mention the often very metallic, unnaturally sweet aroma that has nothing in common with enjoyment - an essential aspect of a healthy diet.

Fruit and herbal tea as healthy drinks for children?

In unsweetened form, you can also offer your child fruit or herbal tea as an occasional alternative to water. Special tea bags are already available for infants, which are subject to special legal regulations and are guaranteed to be free of harmful substances.

Always pour over the tea boiling water and leave him at least 5 minutes pull. Before drinking, he should lukewarm to avoid burns.

Medicinal herbal teas such as chamomile or fennel tea are suitable for babies and toddlers with abdominal pain, but not as a permanent drink. Due to the essential oils it contains, health problems cannot be ruled out with high intake. Alternatively, fruit and herbal teas can be diluted and the individual types can be alternated.

Tip: As an alternative to the juice spritzer, you can also prepare a homemade iced tea for your child. After boiling, let the herbal or fruit tea cool down at room temperature, add a few fresh herbs such as mint or lemon balm and cool the tea in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving, you can of course sweeten it with a dash of naturally cloudy apple juice or freshly squeezed orange juice.

Should my child drink milk?

Certified organic milk can be part of a healthy diet for children, but it is not suitable for quenching thirst.

Because of the milk sugar, proteins and milk fat it contains, milk is a small meal and not a drink.

Although the water contained can supplement the fluid requirement, a glass of milk is more suitable as a substitute for breakfast. If your child has little appetite in the morning, you can mix a milkshake with organic milk, seasonal fruit and a few oatmeal, for example.

Instead of milk, I recommend that you use a plant-based and more sustainable alternative such as oat or almond milk more often. Pay attention to an unsweetened recipe or simply mix your vegan milk yourself. Plant-based milk is also an excellent base for cocoa with real, unsweetened cocoa powder and a dash of honey or agave syrup.

Tip: Whole oat flakes are particularly suitable for shakes, as they dissolve in the milk.

Children's water needs

In the first few months of life, breastfeeding is usually enough to keep your baby hydrated. In the case of fever and diarrhea, however, it may be temporarily necessary to supplement the milk meal with water.

With the start of pulp feeding, the fluid requirement increases slowly. Then offer your child sips of water. Tap water or still mineral water, which is suitable for the preparation of baby food, is suitable for this.

Tap water does not have to be boiled. It looks different on vacation. Particular care is required if there are still old lead pipes. This water is not suitable for children or adults.

Tip: You should offer your baby water from a cup while sitting right from the start. If your child cannot close their lips around the rim of the mug at first, fill the mug to the brim. This will moisturize the lips so that it will automatically open its mouth.

As a guide, the water requirement is initially around one cup each 200 ml per day, although higher amounts make sense if your child craves more.

Since not all babies and toddlers signal that they are thirsty, you should offer some fluids throughout the day. The same goes for older children. With the transition to family food, the water requirements of your child are approximately included 800 ml.

However, with increasing activity level and with a fever, the fluid requirement can increase quickly and is subject to individual factors. As with us adults, the motto when it comes to water is: better more than too little.

Between 4 and 10 years your child's water requirement is approximately 1 liter and continues to increase over the years. Between 15 and 19 years According to the DGE (German Society for Nutrition), teenagers need roughly 1.5 liters of water per day. The rest of the fluid requirement can be met with food, especially vegetables and fruit.

Tip: In summer, when exercising or if you have a fever, the water requirement can increase significantly.

Signs of lack of fluids

So that there is no dehydration in the first place, you should definitely heed our tips for healthy drinks for children.In the next section, I will explain why too little fluid can quickly become risky, especially for babies and toddlers.

Since our body cannot store water, even a slight lack of fluids leads to health problems and can limit performance.

First signs of water shortage:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • a headache
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue

Thirst or a dry mouth are clear signs that there is a lack of water. With persistent inadequate fluid intake, the water shortage can also manifest itself in the form of constipation, an intense decline in performance and an increased risk of urinary tract infections.

In order to guarantee fluid requirements and a smooth metabolism, you and your child need to drink enough water throughout the day.

Tips: Make a ticked drinking plan with your child, where each glass of water or other liquids is entered. Begin and end each meal with an additional glass of water.

The right drinks for children with diarrhea

Babies and toddlers are particularly at risk of dehydration if diarrhea and vomiting persist. If you have a fever at the same time, the risk increases further. The smaller the child, the higher its natural water content. As a result, severe diarrhea in newborns and children in the first year of life can quickly become life-threatening. In this case, you should definitely consult a doctor.

For mild diarrhea, you can offer your child heavily diluted black tea or chamomile or fennel tea at room temperature. To compensate for your child's loss of minerals, enrich the lukewarm tea with a pinch of salt and a dash of apple juice. In addition, there are special electrolyte solutions in the pharmacy, which are only suitable for a short period of time.

If you are still breastfeeding your baby, you can continue to breastfeed him if he has mild diarrhea and, in consultation with the pediatrician, offer him tea or mineral water.

Recipe ideas for healthy children's drinks

Our following favorite recipes are suitable as an alternative to water, juice spritzers and unsweetened herbal and fruit teas. The best thing to do is to prepare these healthy drinks for children directly with your little darling. Then it will taste twice as good for you.

As already mentioned above, infused water can be refined naturally with fruit. Try our Apple Flavored Water with apple and lemon or our wonderfully refreshing Infused Water: Lemon-Cucumber-Mint.

A great alternative to sugary juice spritzers: Apple Flavored Water. Photo: SevenCooks

The Infused Water Pomegranate Mint is suitable for older children. Smaller children can choke on the pomegranate seeds. I would generally recommend that you always serve naturally flavored water for children with a straw - made of wood or stainless steel. Alternatively, glass bottles with an integrated, transparent filter are suitable. Because children love the bright colors of herbs, vegetables and fruits that encourage drinking.

As a vitamin-rich starter in the morning, you should serve your family our delicious red apple and carrot juice in a brilliant natural color - thanks to antioxidants. The sunflower oil it contains helps make the fat-soluble vitamins such as beta-carotene more available to the body. For small children, just leave out the ginger because of its heat.

As a natural alternative to iced tea, I recommend our chamomile iced tea with strawberries, mint and lemon to your heart or in the glass. Or let our rooibos and passion fruit iced tea refresh you with plenty of vitamins.

A natural alternative to iced tea: chamomile iced tea with strawberries. Photo: SevenCooks

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Cover picture: SevenCooks