Water is synonymous with life, and without ample hydration, your child’s vital organs, tissues and cells cannot function properly. And as you already know, children tend to lose a lot of water while playing outdoors or due to heat or through urine. Hence, you need to ensure that he consumes enough fluids, so that his digestive system can work smoothly and all the toxic wastes in his body can be easily flushed out.
Apart from plain water, healthy and refreshing beverages like milk, coconut water and soups can also quench thirst well and provide essential vitamins and minerals to your toddler. So, this article brings you healthy kids’ drink recipes that are easy to prepare. Remember to keep him away from aerated or sweetened drinks as much as possible, as they usually offer nothing but empty calories.
Top healthy drinks or beverages to be taken in plenty
1. Water ─ plain or naturally flavoured
Water, by itself, is devoid of any essential nutrients. However, it can maintain the right balance of electrolytes. Water helps your child to digest food, prevents constipation, and is necessary for blood circulation. It helps excrete wastes and toxins through urination as well.
There is nothing like plain water for satiating thirst in children. In case your child is feeling unwell, you can provide water that is boiled and cooled too, so that all germs, including bacteria, are killed.
If plain water is boring for your toddler, you can flavour it with jeera or ajwain, which impart a cooling effect. This is especially useful during the summer season. Fenugreek (methi) seeds can also be added to water for better cooling effect. Water can also be flavoured with chopped or sliced fruits like lemons, oranges, apples, or with mint leaves.
2. Coconut water
Coconut water is a naturally available refreshing drink for children. It is rich in natural electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and manganese, which are essential for maintaining the ionic balance of the body. Coconut water can ensure adequate hydration during intense physical activities or during nutritional depletion. Coconut water is also useful during an illness like diarrhoea (loose motions). It can replenish the electrolytes that are lost from the body. This is one of the best health drinks for a child.
Buttermilk is a dairy product that is rich in water as well as calcium. It is more easily digested than whole milk and contains much less fat too. Moreover, it is a rich source of lactic acid, which is essential for the digestion of lactose, and for nourishing the skin and hair. Buttermilk is one of the best health drinks for a child’s growth as it provides calcium for strong bones and muscles. It is also a natural remedy for acidity and heartburn.
4. Unsweetened milk
Unsweetened milk is a rich source of calcium, which is essential for the healthy development of muscles, bones, and teeth. Also remember that milk that has less fat content is ideal for your child. So, it is important that you do not add sugar to milk or add very little sugar if at all necessary, to keep milk natural and healthy. Sugar also alters the taste of milk and adds calories that should be burned with physical activity.
If your child is too fussy about milk or dislikes the taste, you can add crushed or powdered dry fruits (especially almonds) to make it more palatable.
Milkshakes are a wholesome food and can be consumed quickly if your child is too busy for a meal. However, this should not become a practise. Milkshakes can be made with figs, bananas, mangoes, custard apples, and guavas, as well as vegetables like carrots and beetroots. These are rich in nutrients, especially vitamin C, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, etc. which not only contribute to the electrolyte balance of the body, but help in replenishing the fluid content. Also, make sure that your child eats more of whole fruits and vegetables as they are a better source of fibre.
6. Herbal tea
Some herbal teas like lemongrass and mint are safe for children and are a good alternative to sweetened beverages. They have high nutrition value and can provide relief to a child especially if he is suffering from a cold.
Freshly prepared vegetable and meat soups are a rich source of essential nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, etc. However, care must be taken so as to use less salt, masala and thickening agents (cream or corn-starch), so that the soup’s nutritive value is not compromised.
Apart from offering your child the healthy beverages mentioned above, make sure to limit the intake of soda or sweetened beverages. Always check the labels for sugar content and calories before buying these. Sweetened milk or sweet teas should be avoided as well. Caffeinated drinks like coffee or energy drinks should be limited too, as they can affect your child’s health by increasing the heart rate, raising blood pressure, increasing anxiety and causing sleep disturbances. So, talk to your doctor to know about the best health drink for your child and then make a smart plan to keep him or her hydrated.
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