Water and milk healthier for kids

Sabin, DaVIS, HETRICK, ANDEREGG, Macalady, walker, darling and Katers

Sixty percent of children and teens ages 2-19 are drinking one soda or other sugary drink on any given day– sugar, water, a little flavor, chemicals, and a little fizz, according to federal statistics.

Pediatrician, Dr. Natalie Muth states, “For children, the biggest source of added sugars often is not what they eat, it’s what they drink.” Kids get about 17 percent of their calories from added sugars. About half of those calories come from drinks.

Kid friendly

How can we have more water and less sugar? Nutritionists note that toddlers and preschoolers need about 16 ounces of milk a day. After that, plain water can be the beverage of choice. Two to five cups of water a day are good depending on children’s size and what they are eating. Children ages 5-8 should have 5 glasses; 7 glasses 9-12; 8-10 glasses 13+. How do we do that?

Offer water every time children eat. Dr. Vincent Iannelli asks,” Why not give them water or milk and a piece of fruit.? That is better for nutrition and their teeth. A medium strawberry has only ½ gram of sugar. Families can provide water during mealtimes and snacks rather than sugary juice or soda. Drinking water rather than soda is cheaper, caffeine free, sweetener free, and will become a habit. Some suggestions to encourage drinking water include: providing everyone with really cool and safe reusable water bottles. Put cucumbers slices in the water to add flavor. Lemon may be too acidic on teeth. Send children to school with a water bottle. Choose water when eating out. It is much cheaper.

Nutritionists suggest families set a good example. Eat a small snack and drink water or skim milk with our children. Have our snack at the kitchen table rather in front of the TV, phone, or computer to be aware that we are eating. A very tasty milk snack is a smoothie of milk and a few strawberries.


Young children can be taught how to read numbers on nutrition labels looking for all the words for sugar– real or artificial– salt, and chemicals. Usually chemical additives have very long names. Children can look for the number of sugar grams and become very aware of what they eat. These little food detectives can compare labels to find the lowest amounts of sweeteners and salt in all kinds of food.

One gram of sugar equals 1/4 teaspoon. One Coke has about 10 teaspoons of sugar. One eight -ounce glass of orange juice also has 10 teaspoons of sugar. Milk has a little over 3 teaspoons of sugar and many nutrients. Google images has pictures of sugars in drinks. Search for “one gram of sugar visual.” For more see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com and wnmufm.org.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.


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