Guide to the best drinks choices for kids

Encouraging children to drink up and stay hydrated is important especially during the hotter months. However with such a huge range of drinks available it can get confusing to know just what they should be drinking.

We spoke with Accredited Practising Dietitian, Emma Stirling to get the low down on what's hot in cool summer drinks.

What should be the main drinks for children?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents clearly recommend that a child's fluid needs be best met by water and milk. Reduced fat varieties of milk are encouraged for children over the age of two years. At least 3 serves of dairy a day are vital to help kids build strong bones for life.

Isn't it common for kids to cut down on milk as they get older?

Yes, it is a common trend, but not a desirable one. Nutrition surveys show that average daily milk intake in children over 3 years is only around one glass per day. With recent increases in the recommended dietary intakes for calcium it's more important than ever that parents and teachers encourage kids to keep the milk habit and make milk a major, daily drink throughout childhood.

So how can I encourage my kids to keep the milk habit?

Keeping kids interested in plain milk can be tricky. The key is to add a little flavour without loads of added sugar. Whipping up a fruit smoothie or enjoying milk by adding a Sipahh milk flavouring straw are great ideas. One Sipahh straw provides a portion controlled serve and adds only teaspoon of sugar, plus only 60 kilojoules to a glass of milk.

What about during school times?

Encourage your kids to drink regularly from the fountains and water bottles during school. Most adults have bad memories of warm milk at school but times have changed. Jane Dibbs, Nutritionist, from the Healthy Kids School Canteen Association says, "Having a serve of reduced fat milk at school is a great way to get kids drinking milk everyday. Buying from the canteen means the milk is COLD and it makes a great filler for hungry kids. Sipahh straws provide a fun 'Green' option for school canteen menus". Parents can also pop a Sipahh straw in a school lunch box as many school canteens are now serving plain, chilled reduced fat milk.

What about cordials, soft drinks and fruit juices?

Even though fruit juice contains vitamin C and other nutrients, it's a surprise to many parents that health professionals recommend no more than a single glass of juice per day for children, preferably diluted with water. Soft drinks, cordials and other sweet drinks are unnecessary as they contain high levels of sugar without any valuable nutrients. For a healthy, fizzy alternative add a lime or lemon squeeze or fruit puree ice blocks to sparkling soda or plain mineral water.