The benefits of healthy eating are continuously promoted and discussed but what about healthy drinking? Practitioners are very conscious about the need to support and encourage healthy eating in pre-school nursery childcare. Whether it be through a nutritionally balanced menu, cooking activities or role play. However some research suggests that ‘drinking and the impact of fluid intake’ is often the forgotten part of ‘food and diet’.
Research suggests that pre-school nursery children do not always recognise the signs of thirst and how to understand and manage thirst reactions.
Young children have a higher proportion of body water than adults. They are also less heat tolerant and may be more likely to get dehydrated. Especially when being physically active and in hot climates. Encouraging children to drink fluids regularly is important as children may not remember to have a drink by themselves. At Preschool Nursery Abbey Wood Grange all children have access to water throughout the day and are encouraged by practitioners to keep hydrated.
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A healthy hydration guide is that children aside from the water consumed within food should aim to drink 6-8 glasses a day. This is an average and the amount of fluids a child needs depends on many factors including their age, their gender, the weather and how much physical activity they do.
Water is the best drink to consume throughout the day as it hydrates without the risk of harming teeth. Other drinks such as fruit juices may provide additional minerals and vitamins. They also contain a lot of sugar therefore these should be limited to one small glass (150ml) a day and kept to meal times.
Symptoms of dehydration in children can include the following;
Further information can be found at www.nutrition.org.uk