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During the summer months, when the weather is warmer, most of us will need a little more in the way of fluids. This includes our babies and toddlers, who are growing at a fast rate (the body needs water for lots of processes, including growth) and running/crawling and moving around.
Water and fluids need to mainly come from drinks for toddlers, ideally milk and water as these are the most tooth friendly drinks they can have. Milk and water are also all children need in reality to keep them hydrated – they don’t need juices, squashes or other drinks. I have a detailed blog all about drinks for babies and toddlers, which you can check out.
Milk recommendations for children over one are around 350-400mls of milk a day (less is needed if other dairy is being consumed such as cheese, yogurt). 3 small glasses of milk will provide around this amount and will also count towards recommended fluid intakes for little ones.
Children need around 6-8 glasses of fluids a day. Around 120mls is a portion for younger children and more like 200mls for older kids (see table below for details). Therefore, milk can make up some of those recommended glasses, but the rest, ideally need to be coming from water. In hot weather little ones might need a little more than this too, or if they are incredibly active.
Total Fluid Intake from Food & Drink (ml/day)
Sips with meals
6-8 cups (~120ml) + food
6-8 cups (~150ml) + food
6-8 cups (~200ml) + food
Getting little ones to drink water can sometimes be a challenge. See my tips below for how you can help encourage a little more water:
- Start young – offer sips of water with meals from 6 months and start offering at regular periods throughout the day from 1+
- Stick to similar times to offer glasses of water, so they become the norm
- Set yourself reminders if you struggle to remember – kids will likely always need a bit of a nudge from you when it comes to drinking enough
- In hot weather, try and offer liquid-y foods such as soup, stews, sauces to help boost hydration
- Get them involved in serving the water to themselves and others when they are old enough
- Offer water at the table in a big jug to add a novelty
- Offer slices of lemon/lime or cucumber and mint in their water every now and then
- Allow them to choose their own cups/beakers and choose a special cup just for them
Drinks should provide around 80% of children’s fluid intake and the rest can come from the foods that children eat. Around 20% comes from food, but you could always up this by focusing on more liquid-y foods such as the ones below, especially if you’re worrying about how much fluid your little one is accepting from drinks.
Other foods that are very liquidy and can help to boost fluid intake in young children include:
- Milk in foods, such as cereals
- Sorbets and lollies and smoothies
Here are some of the TOP watery foods too that you can include in your toddler’s diet more regularly if you’re worried they’re not eating enough…
Watery foods include:
If you’re worried about your little one’s fluid intake, check the colour of their urine and try to ensure it’s nice and diluted to make sure they are getting enough.
Red flags for baby/toddler being dehydrated include:
- feeling thirsty
- dark yellow and strong-smelling pee
- feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- feeling tired
- a dry mouth, lips and eyes
- peeing little, and fewer than 4 times a day.
If you notice any of this, go and see your doctor and get some support.
A blog for Zebedees from The Baby & Child Nutritionist – Charlotte Stirling-Reed
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