When I take my 6-year-old out to lunch with my mommy friends, they're surprised that she wants a salad before her meal and prefers the grilled chicken to the nuggets. For as much time as I spent nurturing her diet (we made salads together for at least two years before she'd try anything except the croutons and dressing), I wasn't nearly as on top of it about what she drank. I'm regretting that now. "Young children need five and a half to seven cups of fluid a day," says Melinda Johnson, RD, of Phoenix, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
The tricky part is getting them to drink the right fluids -- milk and water. Two-year-olds spend more than 120 calories a day on sweetened beverages like punch and lemonade, according to a Columbia University study. The typical 4- to 8-year-old drinks more of these sugar-packed beverages than any kind of milk. "It's not uncommon for preschoolers to be getting 500 or 600 calories from drinks -- about half of the calories they need for the day," says Susan Goolsby, RD, assistant director of clinical nutrition at Arkansas Children's Hospital, in Little Rock. Gulp. See if you have a problem drinker -- and, if so, what to do about it.Try This