Healthy Drinks and Happy Holidays is the greeting from Dentistry for Children this week! We know families are busy right now, preparing for holiday festivities. However, that is the very reason we hope you pause to consider important new information for your Children’s health. School is out for the holiday season and schedules are in disarray. However, we have some strong new health recommendations that could influence your young child’s future. And it’s all about the beverages you offer him or her to drink. Not only on holidays but year-round.
New Recommendations to Encourage Young Children’s Consumption of Healthy Drinks
In this day and age, we know it is difficult to get consensus on any issue, especially health issues. However, we now congratulate these institutions:
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,
- American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry,
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- and American Heart Association.
All of these agencies have been increasingly concerned with children’s obesity. They are also alarming about statistics of diabetes and the epidemic of tooth decay. So, they have created an agreement for what parents should consider healthy beverages for their children ages 1-5.
Now, in the face of the upcoming holiday schedules, we of Dentistry for Children want to be positive you know this information. You see we are still surprised by moms and grandmothers who arrive at the office with baby bottles full of orange juice for 2 or 3-year-olds. And they are surprised to learn this is not a healthy practice.
Holidays and Healthy Drinks: News from the Experts
Perhaps this information won’t seem new to you. We know we have blogged about it previously. However, what is very new is the intense agreement between all of the above associations. In September they came to a complete consensus about what beverages we should offer our children in their first 5 years of life.
The results might surprise you. We are sure the results will surprise manufacturers and marketers who have been touting their products as healthy for children for generations.
Holidays and Healthy Drinks: Recommendations From the Experts for Holidays and Every Day
The list of healthy drinks recommended for the first five years of life is short:
- They recommended breast milk, of course.
- They endorsed infant formula,
- They validated water,
- And they also endorsed plain milk for Babies and Kids.
These approvals are part of a new set of comprehensive beverage recommendations for children. As mentioned above, they are outlined by age from birth to 5 years old. Read on to discover the details.
Holidays and Healthy Drinks: Leading Health Organizations Support First-Ever Consensus
Just as remarkable as the drinks they recommended were the drinks they cautioned parents to avoid: Not surprisingly, they all warned us against beverages that add sugar to young children’s diets.
Some of the unhealthy drinks for the holidays and every day include flavored milk (Yes, that means chocolate and strawberry milk.) Likewise, they condemned all sugar-and low-calorie sweetened beverages.
The Beverage Naughty List: Holidays and Healthy Drinks
They also disapproved of a “wide variety of beverages that are “targeted to children such as:
- toddler formulas,
- caffeinated beverages,
- and plant-based/non-dairy milk.
- Yes, that includes almond, rice, and oat milk. The experts saw no “unique nutritional value” in these trendy beverages.
Keep in mind these recommendations were made for healthy children. They are not for children with certain diet restrictions and sensitivities.
The Academy of Nutrition and dietetics states it this way. These recommendations “do not address medical situations in which specific nutrition guidance is needed to manage a health condition or specific dietary choices such as abstaining from animal products.”
As a group, the above authorities completely agreed with the words of Megan Lott, MPH, RD., Deputy Director of Healthy Eating Research. “Early childhood is an important time to start shaping nutrition habits and promoting healthy beverage consumption.” But if your family is accustomed to sodas, juice, imitation juicy drinks and carbonated water drinks, you might find this difficult. However, Dentistry for Children appeals to you to do it for your children at least until they are 5 years old.
Holiday Drinks: Respect Your Water
We of Dentistry for Children are acutely aware that in some parts of the world clean, cool, fresh-water is a unique and amazing treat. Here in the United States, children seldom make it a beverage of choice. Apparently, with so many other sweet choices, we have had generations of children who never learn to appreciate the taste of water.
Dentistry for children highly recommends you make sure your little ones develop a taste for water by offering it often. Even if a child only drinks a little water with meals, you are setting up an appreciation of it as the healthiest beverage a human can drink.
A New Crusade for Healthy Drinks
We invite you to deeply consider these words from Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “Nearly 40,000 people in the U.S. die each year from heart problems due to overconsumption of sugary drinks.” She is deeply passionate about this issue, and she continues… “This is unhealthy and unacceptable, and the seismic shift in our culture needed to change this status quo must start with our kids,”
She added, “The American Heart Association is proud to endorse these guidelines and stand with parents, caregivers, medical professionals, restaurant owners, and policymakers who can help ensure a healthier future for our kids.”
An Unprecedented Agreement
The experts stated their purpose was to provide “a clear set of objective, science-based recommendations…” to those closest to children’s beverage choices in the first five years of human life:
They included “caregivers, health care and early care and education providers, policymakers, and beverage industry representatives.”
With these guidelines “for healthy drink consumption, we can use this opportunity to work together and improve the health and well-being of infants and young children throughout the United States.”
The above-mentioned groups worked under the leadership of Healthy Eating Research (HER). This is a leading nutrition research organization with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Richard Besser, MD, President, and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation made this statement. “From the time children are born through those first few years, beverages are a significant source of calories and nutrients and can have a big impact on health long into the future.”
“Families deserve clear and consistent guidance on what their young children should drink and what they should avoid.” And he added inspiring words. “These recommendations from our country’s leading medical and nutrition organizations will help families raise healthy children.”
Healthy Beverage Recommendations: A Snapshot of Recommended Drinks Per Child’s Age
Let’s look at the specific age ranges and their recommended beverages.
The experts on the panel stated their unqualified healthy favorite beverage: Water. They said, “Unflavored, unsweetened, uncarbonated, fluoridated drinking water.” They advised, “Plain water is the best way to quench your child’s thirst. It’s great for snack time, meal-time, or anytime!”
- Infants younger than 6 months: Only breast milk or infant formula to get enough fluids.
- For infants 6 to 12 months old, offer small sips of water when feeding solid foods. This will help your baby develop cup-drinking skills.
- Soon he or she will learn to like the taste of water. 4-8 ounces total for the day water is a good amount. It should not replace any amount of breast milk or infant formula.
- Children 1 to 3 years of age: Offer them 1-4 cups of water daily…
- Kids of 4 to 5 years of age should drink 1.5 to 5 cups a day.
Choose Children’s Beverages Wisely and Have a Happy Holiday!
We realize that 1-4 cups or 1.5 to 5.5 are expansive ranges. However, these large ranges take into account the individual needs of children, based on several factors: How active are they? Where do they live? What is the Weather at there location?
“Choosing drinks wisely for your child is crucial to good oral health. That’s why we talk about it during the age-one dental visit,” said AAPD President, Dr. Kevin Donly. “A child with a healthy smile can eat, speak, play, and learn more easily than a child suffering from tooth decay.”
As we accentuate family time for shopping, cooking and decorating for the holidays, this is a good time to begin a new and healthier approach to our family’s beverage consumption!