Tasty, Healthy Drinks for Kids
by Michelle from Oregon
At my house you may hear the kids ask for funny sounding drinks. My four-year-old likes “sister milk”. Her baby brother doesn’t get sister milk. Sister milk is special.
Besides funny names, a few other things have helped my family make healthy drink choices:
Number one is that the kids see me drinking what I want them to drink. Setting the example makes it easier to say “no” when they ask for something I’d rather they not have.
My younger kids don’t care about obesity or cavities like I do. They don’t worry about the future. They want that sugary drink right now because it tastes good right now. In those moments, I also focus on right now: my kids will be nicer to be around if I offer healthy drinks! I’ve seen them melt down after a sugary drink. I don’t want to deal with that. When they have healthy drinks they’re more fun to parent, fight with each other less; and bedtime is easier.
I grew up in a home with soda pop in the kitchen all the time. We’d even drink it before bed. When I decided I was ready to kick that habit as an adult, I started by replacing pop with carbonated water. My kids call it “bubble water” (hey, another funny name!). Sometimes we mix carbonated water 50/50 with 100% fruit juice. They think it’s fancy! It also makes the juice we buy through WIC last longer.
I try to avoid pouring the kids big glasses of juice. In summer, we make popsicles by freezing 100% fruit juice in reusable molds. In winter, I simmer apple juice in a saucepan with 1-2 teaspoons of “mulling spices” from the bulk section of the supermarket. It can get quite hot, so I let it cool a bit before giving it to the kids. Licking a popsicle or sipping a warm drink takes a while – they’re not just gulping it down and asking for more.
Most of the time, we just drink water.
Sometimes we fill a pitcher with plain water, then they help add slices of fruit and sprigs of herbs (washed first). It keeps in the fridge for a day or two. My daughter’s favorite is strawberries and mint. Food Hero has a lot of easy recipes for flavored water and other healthy, tasty drinks.
With four kids, I get tired of hearing “mom, I’m thirsty!”. I try to set things up so the kids can meet their own needs as much as possible. Everyone has a water bottle, even the one-year-old. I wash them, fill them, and put them where the kids can reach them without my help. When we go somewhere, all the water bottles go with us.
At home or on the go, I hope you might try one of these ideas. What’s worked for your family? Or what could you maybe try to make it easier to offer more healthy, tasty drinks?
This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Michelle.
Michelle is a WIC participant and the mother of four possibly slightly feral children. She blogs at elderinthewoods.com about raising kids and food, on land and in community, in Oregon’s Santiam foothills.
Want more information on this topic? wichealth.org has a free online lesson called Fun and Healthy Drinks for Kids. Find it on wichealth.org in the Children Ages 1 to 5 category!