Many kids aren't adventurous eaters and have definite preferences when it comes to meal time. If your child turns her nose up at all but a few foods, she might not be getting the nutrients she needs to grow and develop. Nutritional drinks can help fill the gaps in her vitamin and mineral intake. Talk to your child's pediatrician before giving her supplemental drinks.
Some nutritional beverages come ready to drink. Most are milk- or yogurt-based. Other types come in powder form, which you stir into milk to create a milkshake-like consistency. Beverages marketed as meal replacements for picky eaters are typically fortified with protein, vitamins and minerals. If your child prefers to drink his meals, rather than nibble on actual food, offering him a nutritional drink at mealtime can help fill his tummy and make sure he's getting adequate nutrition. The beverages often come in kid-friendly flavors like chocolate or strawberry. Look for nutritional drinks on the breakfast aisle or baby food section of your grocery store.
While commercial nutritional beverages are convenient, some versions contain quite a bit of sugar. If this concerns you, making your own beverages helps control the ingredient list. The Ask Dr. Sears website recommends blending fruit with milk, yogurt or 100 percent fruit juice to create a homemade smoothie. You can also use egg powder or wheat germ to increase the nutritional content of the drink. Mixing vegetables with fruits can take away the bitter flavor and encourage your child to consume a variety of healthy foods. Try blending in avocado, spinach, carrots or kale to give your child's drink a nutritional boost and fun color.
Adequate nutrition is important for normal growth and development. If your child's list of acceptable foods is restricted to just a few items, she might not be getting enough protein, vitamins A, C, D and E, fiber, calcium, potassium and iron. However, if she's willing to drink healthy beverages, you have the opportunity to reduce mealtime power struggles by offering her something healthy that she's willing to eat. Whether you opt for pre-made versions or you whip up your own, serving healthy drinks means your child is getting what she needs.
How to Serve
Letting your child have a hand in choosing his drink makes it more likely that he'll finish it. Let him choose a flavor of pre-made drink or have him choose what fruits he wants to add to a homemade drink. Avoid only giving your child drinks because it discourages him from expanding his palate. Continue offering small bites of new foods. It can take many exposures before your child willingly eats something he typically refuses, according to MayoClinic.com. Giving into the habit of drinking every meal makes it difficult to get your child to sit down to a real meal as he gets older. Serve drinks after a meal, which encourages your child to eat foods off a plate, but still ensures that he's getting enough nutrition for healthy growth and development.
- Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images