Summer is on the horizon and that means lots of picnics, cookouts, and days near the pool, lake, or nearby pond here in the beautiful Berkshires. When your kids are expending lots of energy in the sunshine, don’t overlook the need to help them stay hydrated. Health-conscious parents know that soda and sports drinks are definite no-no’s, packed with processed sugar – or worse – corn syrup.
That’s left many kids reaching for fruit juice. Not so fast, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which just weeks ago re-issued guidelines about juice consumption. The AAP’s recommendation: No juice for those younger; maximum intakes of 100% juice is 4 ounces for kids 1-3 years old; 4-6 ounces for children ages 4-6 and 8 ounces for those 7 and older.
These revised recommendations – issued in May – are even more stringent than those issued a decade ago by the AAP due to rising obesity rates.
So just how to quench the little one’s thirst?
Here are three alternatives:
There are a few ways to do this, and it’s a good way to get the kids involved. Seek out organic strawberries, blackberries, pineapple or lemon from reputable spots like Berkshire Organics, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace or the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington. Wash the fruit thoroughly, place in the bottom of a glass or plastic pitcher and fill with filtered water. Or, have them create fruit skewers and let them steep. Serve ice cold.
One riff on this approach – which is especially good for kids at the pool or active in outdoor sports – is to invest in water bottles that have a special insert to hold fruit, so you can have your lemon water on the go!
We’re big fans of seltzer at our house. And while Mom and Dad may like it straight out of the can, you can easily use plain old seltzer as the basis for a healthy variation of “soda” the kids will enjoy.
We add in fresh-squeezed lemon juice or even a few ounces of fresh orange juice to the glass, add in ice and pour in seltzer. For a natural sweetener, put in a few drops of natural Stevia, available at most large-chain grocery stores.
If You Go for Juice, Go Au Natural
One of the problems of juice you buy in the store – even 100 percent juice with no added sugar – is its still woefully short of much-needed fiber. We bought a juicer a few years ago – and while I admit it’s only about once-a-year we break it out, it can be fun to juice at home—especially if you have a sudden surplus of great-for-juicing carrots or apples.
Get older kids in the act by peeling the fruit and vegetables and feeding them to the machine. They can experiment with things you might never think would taste good in juice – like celery or whole beets. And the pulp makes for great compost.
So as we head into the sunniest and warmest months of the year here in the Berkshires, think about a new, healthy approach to beverages for your children.