What’s in your child’s sippy cup?
Adults carry water bottles around all the time – at work, the gym, during a walk, and in the car.
So, what should be in your toddler’s sippy cup?
“We encourage water as being the best for toddlers to drink,” said Emily O’Connell, MD, a pediatrician at Falmouth Pediatrics. “We really try to limit juice and other sweetened beverages because they have a lot of extra calories and are one of the main causes of weight gain.”
Toddlers should drink 8-12 ounces of water daily, in addition to their milk intake, she said. It will vary according to thirst level and it may be higher in the summer.
It’s not only good for curbing obesity but also promotes good dental health.
Childhood obesity has more than doubled over the past 30 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While recent studies showed a decrease in obesity in 2 to 5-year-olds in 2011-2012, the prevalence of obesity has affected 12.7 million children and adolescents in the U.S. over the past decade.
“Preventing obesity is easier than treating obesity,” said Dr. O’Connell. “It’s calories in versus calories out.”
Make Healthy Choices
She encourages parents to choose a good variety of fruits and vegetables. They don’t need to be organic, but healthy choices in place of foods like potato chips, cookies and ice cream. An occasional treat is fine.
And it’s about healthy choices even with fast food. Choosing fruit slices over French fries can make a difference in the calorie intake.
She recommends the 5,2,1,0 rule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- 5: Eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day
- 2: Keep screen time of TV, video games and the computer down to 2 hours or less a day
- 1: Get 1 hour or more of physical activity everyday
- 0: Sugary drinks. Replace soda, sports drinks and 100% juice with milk or water
Physical activity and family modeling are helpful with keeping toddlers weight under control.
“Toddlers into pre-school age are inherently busy, and so a parent’s job is not to slow them down,” said Dr. O’Connell. TV and electronics will slow down a normal, healthy toddler, she explained.
She encourages parents to go to play groups, playgrounds, take a walk in the neighborhood, and play games in the yard as ways to promote activity.
Family modeling is setting the example for your children. Toddlers watch their parents and are interested in whatever their parents are interested in doing, said Dr. O’Connell.
The entire family can play a role in eating healthy food choices, monitoring their portions and participating in physical activities.