healthy drink for kids

We know it’s important to get kids to eat healthy foods, but what about getting them on board with healthy drinks? What kids drink can greatly affect how many calories they consume and the amount of calcium (needed to build strong bones) their bodies get.

Serve Water and Milk

For kids of all ages, water and milk are the best choices, so let them flow. Besides having zero calories,water is a no-sugar thirst-quencher. And 1 cup of milk has 300 milligrams of calcium, so it’s a big contributor to a child’s daily needs.

Here’s how much calcium kids need each day:

  • toddlers (ages 1 to 3 years): 700 milligrams of calcium daily
  • kids (ages 4 to 8 years): 1000 milligrams
  • older kids (ages 9 to 18 years): 1,300 milligrams

The current dietary guidelines for milk or equivalent dairy products or fortified soy beverages are:

  • Kids ages 2 to 3 should drink 2 cups (480 milliliters) every day.
  • Kids 4 through 8 should have 2½ cups (600 milliliters) per day.
  • Kids 9 and older should have 3 cups (720 milliliters) per day.

Choose fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk products most of the time.

When kids drink too much juice, juice drinks, sports drinks, and soda, these beverages can crowd out the milk they need. Sugary drinks also can pile on the calories.

Put Limits on Juice

If your child likes juice, be sure to serve 100% juice. Also follow these recommended limits:

  • up to 6 months old: no juice
  • 6-12 months old: no more than 2-4 ounces (120 milliliters) per day, always served in a cup
  • 1-6 years old: 4-6 ounces (120-180 milliliters) of juice per day
  • 7-18 years old: 8-12 ounces (240-360 milliliters) of juice per day

Say No to Soda

Soft drinks are commonly served to kids, but they have no nutritional value and are high in sugar. Drinking soda and other sugared drinks can cause tooth decay. Colas and other sodas often contain caffeine, which kids don’t need. In addition, soft drinks may be taking the place of calcium-rich milk.

One study found that, on average, preschoolers drank less than the recommended 16 ounces of milk each day while drinking 8 ounces of soda and fruit drinks (not including 100% fruit juice).

If soda habits start when kids are little, chances are they will drink increasing amounts as they get older. In older kids and teens, drinking soda has been linked to excessive weight gain and other problems.

That said, many kids like soda and will request it. As a rule, don’t serve it to babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. With older kids, let them know it’s a once-in-a-while beverage. Don’t ban it entirely if your kids like it now and then — that’s likely to make it more appealing and them more inclined to overdo it when they get the chance

10 Ways He Can Have Better Baby Making Sperm

Although you’ll be the one carrying the baby for those nine months, dad-to-be has an important role too — his sperm affects whether you’ll get pregnant at all and if the pregnancy will be healthy. To keep his boys in tip-top shape, he should make these changes.

Get His Weight in Check

Being underweight or overweight can have negative effects on a man’s sperm, and it can kill a couple’s sex life because weight problems can affect a man’s libido and performance. Sticking to a healthy diet that contains a good mix of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, grains, and dairy, and fitting in physical activity on most days of the week can help him reach or maintain a healthy weight

Get More Folate

Folic acid isn’t important just for moms-to-be. Men who had lower levels of folic acid in their diet had a higher rate of abnormal chromosomes in their sperm, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. When sperm with abnormal chromosomes fertilize an egg, it may result in miscarriage or birth defects. More than half of first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo. This doesn’t mean your guy has to take folic acid pills: A good multivitamin or foods that are high in folate, like beans, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, citrus fruits, and folate-enriched cereals, breads, and pastas, will help him get the recommended 400 milligrams of folic acid he needs daily.

Kick Butts

Smoking cigarettes can cause low sperm counts and slow-moving sperm. To give his swimmers a boost, your guy should stop smoking. It’s better if he quits as soon as possible, but he should definitely aim to be smoke-free at least three months before you try to conceive. “Sperm production takes about three months, so any changes the man makes today won’t show up in the semen for at least three months,” says Suzanne Kavic, M.D., director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at Loyola University Health System.

He should nix marijuana or other illicit drugs too. “Sperm may be damaged by these drugs, and women are more likely to miscarry if their partners use recreational drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and any of the other typical amphetamines,” says Lisa Mazzullo, M.D., co-author of Before Your Pregnancy: A 90-Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception.

Can the Beer

He doesn’t have to give it up completely, but it’s a good idea for men to limit their alcohol intake if they hope to become a dad. Alcohol has been shown to reduce sperm production and cause sperm abnormalities. Dr. Kavic says one to two drinks a day is fine (as long as they’re normal-size servings!). Another reason he should dry out a bit: A lot of men don’t perform as well sexually when they’re inebriated, Dr. Kavic says

See a Doc

A thorough checkup before trying to conceive will give him an overview of his health and fertility status. As in your pre-conception visit, he can expect discussions about his body mass index (BMI), any medications he uses, lifestyle factors that may affect fertility and pregnancy, any genetic disorders or history that may pose a risk to the future baby, and what he can do to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. He will also be given any needed immunizations to help prevent him from passing on illnesses like chickenpox and the seasonal flu to you during pregnancy.

Cut Down on Caffeine

A study of Danish men found that sperm count and sperm concentration were slightly reduced in men who had a high soda and/or caffeine intake. Dr. Mazzullo says men should limit their caffeine consumption (that includes coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks) to 300 milligrams a day (about three 6-ounce servings).

Blow Off Some Steam

Stress can increase abnormal sperm and reduce its concentration. Sleeping and eating well, exercising regularly to work off pent-up energy and tension, making time to hang out with his guy friends (or sit in front of the tube and do nothing!) and other activities that he finds enjoyable or relaxing can help keep his stress in check.

Check His Meds

Before you start trying to conceive, he should make a list of all the medications he takes — including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements — and check them with his doctor. Some medications can affect the quality or quantity of a man’s sperm. If he’s using a medication that could possibly interfere with your baby-making goals, his doctor should be able to recommend a more fertility-friendly alternative.

Keep Cool

There’s a reason a male’s testicles hang outside of his body. “Sperm production has to take place at a certain temperature, and even our core body temperature is too hot, so the testicles are outside to keep cool,” explains Dr. Kavic. If your guy does something that overheats his testicles, it can interfere with sperm production. So he should limit the time he spends in hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms. Dr. Mazzullo recommends that men keep it to 15 minutes, no more than twice a week.

He may want to change his laptop habits, too. Dr. Kavic says there’s a possibility that using a computer on his lap too often may cause genital warming that could possibly affect the sperm. His best bet? Keep the lap time to a minimum, invest in a laptop cooling pad, and use the laptop on a desk more often.

Stay Away from Toxins

If your guy works around a lot of chemicals and toxins, he needs to make sure they don’t do a number on his member. Toxic chemicals such as heavy metals, lead, and chemical solvents can increase the percentage of damaged sperm, so men who expect to conceive in the near future should try to avoid them. If his job places him around chemicals, he can limit his contact by wearing a face mask and protective clothing and always using proper ventilation.

How to Make Your Child’s Shots Less Stressful

Yes, shots will always sting, but you can take steps before, during and after a vaccine visit to ease your child’s pain and stress.

Parents and kids can agree: Shots hurt. We parents know that these vaccines provide babies with safe, proven protection against serious diseases. But that can be hard to explain to our little ones in a way they understand. What we can do is take steps to remove some of the stress that comes with vaccine visits to the doctor.

“Getting children each dose of every vaccine according to the recommended schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to help keep their children safe and healthy,” says Dr. Andrew Kroger, a father of two and medical officer at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccines can save your child’s life. Because of advances in medical science, babies and young children can be protected against 14 serious diseases by their second birthday. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children a year, such as polio, are no longer common in the U.S.—primarily because of safe and effective vaccines.

Even though you know you are keeping her safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your child cry when she gets her shots. But you can take some steps before, during and after a vaccine visit to ease the pain and fear of getting shots.

Getting Prepared

Educate yourself to ease your mind before your child’s next appointment.

“CDC’s vaccine webpage has a lot of useful information to help parents learn about diseases that vaccines protect their children against, vaccine safety and the importance of on-time vaccination,” Kroger says. “You can review this information before your appointment, and then you can ask your child’s doctor any remaining questions you have about vaccines.”

If you are seeing a different doctor than usual, it might also be helpful to bring your child’s shot record. You can bring along your personal record to keep track of what shots your child has received.

6 Ways to Reduce Stress at the Doctor’s Office

  1. Bring a comfort item, such as a favorite book, blanket or toy, to help a child feel safe.
  2. Be honest with older children. Let them know that shots can pinch or sting, but the discomfort won’t last long. Remind them that shots help keep them healthy.
  3. Distract your child with a toy, a story, a song or something interesting in the room.
  4. Make eye contact with your child and smile, talk softly or sing.
  5. Hold your child tightly on your lap if you can.
  6. Take deep breaths with an older child to help “blow out” the pain.

After the Shots

Cuddle, hug and praise your child after the immunizations. To comfort a baby, try swaddling, breastfeeding or using a bottle. Comfort and reassure older children if they cry.

You might notice redness, soreness or swelling from the shot, but it’s usually nothing to worry about. These reactions are typically mild and will go away on their own without needing treatment. To ease the swelling, place a clean, cool washcloth on the area. If your child runs a fever, try a cool sponge bath. You can also use a non-aspirin pain reliever if your doctor says it’s OK. Some children eat less, sleep more or act fussy for a day or so after they get shots. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest, and give him lots of liquid. If you’re worried about anything, call your doctor.

Mom and Dad, Stay Calm

You might think your child is too young to know how you feel, but research shows that when you act or feel anxious, even an infant can pick up on it. So provide your child with positive support. You can even talk to your child’s doctor if you are feeling anxious, and the doctor can help reassure your child.

And always focus on the long-term good that comes with the short-term stress. “Remember, the pain associated with shots goes away quickly, but if your child catches a vaccine-preventable disease, he or she could be very sick for a long time,” Kroger says.

How I Handled the News Your Baby Needs a Helmet

Having the helmet not only changed my baby, it changed me too.

“It’s not your fault.”

I wanted to believe him. Considering he was a doctor who specialized in cranial therapy and development, I should have believed him. But I didn’t.

I looked down at the beautiful head of my 6-month-old baby sitting in my lap and felt a rush of guilt spill over me.

I saw the flat spot. I had seen it since he was born. My husband and I tried to adjust the car seat; to use a baby positioner; to try to turn his head more one way rather than the other. But none of it had worked. After six months of trying, now we were here in a specialist’s office being told our baby needed a helmet.

According to a study in the journal “Pediatrics,” 47 percent of infants have flat spots on their heads. And although many of them don’t require helmet therapy, the practice is becoming more common.

But it didn’t matter that the doctor said it wasn’t our fault and it was caused by how he had been positioned for months in the birth canal. It didn’t matter that he said many parents have had to helmet their children. What mattered is that I felt like I couldn’t help my child—that I couldn’t fix him.

I couldn’t sleep the entire week we waited for his helmet to be made. I worried about whether I’d be able to hug him. I feared he would be uncomfortable or not able to move easily. And I worried what people would think. Would they think something was wrong with him mentally? Would he get stared at? Or worse, mocked?

I had never met anyone whose child wore a helmet before. I had no reference to call or shoulder to cry on that could relate. It was a scary, unchartered territory for me and my husband.

When the specialist slipped on my son’s helmet for the first time, the tears instantly spilled from my face. He didn’t look like my son. He didn’t look like the little baby with the soft head I nestled against late at night. He looked…different.

We made the helmet look like a baseball player’s batting helmet by covering it in vinyl stickers from a website the specialist told us about. I spent over an hour positioning each and every sticker just right.

As I braced myself for what that first day would be like for my son, I was surprised by the reality. He didn’t even notice his helmet. He didn’t cry; he didn’t fuss. He didn’t seem to care that his head was now covered 18 hours of the day. His smile still glowed, and his personality still shined. He ate and slept normally and was the same baby as before.

The truth is, people did stare, and they did think something was wrong with him mentally. But it was okay. I took it as an amazing opportunity to educate them on what it really meant to wear a helmet. I told them he had a condition called Plagiocephaly, and it was a physical, not mental issue.

That’s not to say people didn’t do a double-take when they saw our son. And yes, we did hear ignorant comments from time to time. But what we mostly heard were things like “he’s so cute” or “I love what you did to that helmet.”

Very quickly, I took pride in our little guy and his uniqueness. And three months later, when his helmet came off and his head was perfectly shaped, I felt happy that we went through that experience.

I soon became a resource to other people who found themselves in the same situation with their children. I could finally be the one who tells them that it really isn’t their fault. And maybe they’ll believe it, like I had so desperately tried to do when it was happening to me.

But I think the greatest thing I realized in all of this was the person who really changed for the better from having the helmet wasn’t my son, but rather me. All my fears and anxieties took me to a place of new understanding.

5 Ways to Maintain Baby’s Sleep Schedule While Traveling

If baby’s not happy, nobody’s happy. Use these tips to keep your little one rested and in a good mood on your next trip.

Traveling with your baby or young child can be challenging, especially when it comes to keeping his or her naptime and bedtime routines. Getting good rest is the key to keeping your little one in a good mood when you are away from home, so keep these five tips in mind if you are thinking about traveling in the near future:

  1. Keep baby feeling safe and secure by following the same naptime and bedtime routine that you do at home. Bring along her favorite books, toys and blankets, especially those that she associates with napping and bedtime.
  2. When possible, try to include lots of outdoor activities during the day, but stay close to home (that is, where you are staying) in the evening to help your baby wind down and fall asleep for the night.
  3. Buy a good travel crib. Investing in a sturdy travel crib that offers good support and a comfortable mattress will pay off in better rest for baby—and for you.
  4. Bring along a source of soothing background noise for baby’s room: baby’s nighttime CDs, a sleep sounds app for your mobile device or sound machine.
  5. Plan your daily activities around your baby’s nap schedule. If possible, let him sleep at least once per day in the travel crib or bed where he will be sleeping at night.

Sprout Organic Food was founded in 2009, and its entire product line is organic and features chef-inspired dishes and recipes with GMO-free ingredients. Using unique cooking methods, Sprout Foods has created nutritious combinations that appeal to all ages.

Dieting Hints and Tips Weight Loss Resources

There are many reasons for people who are overweight to want to lose weight. Is it to be healthier, to look better. to feel better, and/or to have more energy. Whatever your reason is, you need to lose at a slow and steady rate for best results. A safe and healthy rate is no more than two (2) pounds per week. This is the goal you should aim for in your weight loss program.

Lose 1 pound per week – Reduce your weekly intake of calories by 3,500 calories (3,500 divided by 7 days equals 500 calories per day).

Lose 2 pounds per week – Reduce your weekly intake of calories by 7,000 calories (7,000 calories divided by 7 days equals 1,000 calories per day).

It is very simple logic – To cut out either the 500 or 1,00 calories a day, you can either eat less calories or burn more calories by exercising. Or, to make it an easier goal to achieve, try a combination of eating fewer calories, and burning more calories more a day by exercising.

Remember that extra calories eaten and not burned off by exercise will turn into extra weight. Doesn’t this sound simple? You absolutely need to regulate the calories you eat every day in order to either lose weight or to maintain your weight.

Check out my many Diet Recipes and also the Food Nutritional Value Chart that shows fat grams, fiber grams, and calorie that I have collected (includes many recipes from my main web site that I have adapted). I’ve also included Weight Watcher’s Points on some recipes to help you in deciding which recipes to prepare. Unless otherwise noted, I’ve included in each of the following recipes: Fat Grams, Calorie Counts, and Weight Watcher points.

Check out the following great articles to help you with your diet:

Coffee Drink Calories

Determine Your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Diet Recipe Index

Dieting Hints & Tips

Food Labels 101

Food Nutritional Value Chart

Identify A Calorie Goal

Juicing For Weight Loss

How To Eat Out On A Diet or How To Survive Without Blowing Your Diet!

Linda’s Diet Statement

Making Sense of Portion Sizes – Portion Control Secrets

Menopause and Weight Gain

Sugar: The Natural Sweetener – Only 15 Calories Per Teaspoon!

What About Exercise? Calories Burned Per Minute of Exercise By Weight


10 steps to a healthy pregnancy

Pregnancy is an ideal time to start taking really good care of yourself both physically and emotionally. If you follow the few simple guidelines below, you should give yourself the best chance of having a problem-free pregnancy and a healthy baby.

1. See your doctor or midwife as soon as possible

As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, get in touch with your GP or a midwife to organise your antenatal care. Organising your care early means you’ll get good advice for a healthy pregnancy right from the start. You’ll also have plenty of time to organise any ultrasound scans and tests that you may need.

2. Eat well

Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet whenever you can. Try to have:

  • At least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
  • Plenty of carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and rice, as the basis of your meals. Choose wholegrain carbohydrates rather than white, so you get plenty of fibre.
  • Daily servings of protein, such as fish, lean meat, eggs, nuts or pulses, and some milk and dairy foods.
  • Two portions of fish a week, at least one of which should be oily. Fish is packed with protein, vitamin D, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the development of your baby’s nervous system.

You don’t need to eat for two when you’re pregnant. You don’t need extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy. In the last three months you’ll need about an extra 200 calories a day. You can keep up your energy levels with healthy snacks.

See our pregnancy meal planners for each trimester.

3. Take a supplement

Pregnancy vitamin supplements aren’t a substitute for a balanced diet. But they can help if you’re worried you’re not eating well, or you’re too sick to eat much.

Make sure your supplement contains 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. You need this while you’re trying for a baby and for the first three months of pregnancy. Taking folic acid reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.

Also, check that your supplement contains 10mcg of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for your baby’s future bone health.

Talk to your GP or a pharmacist before taking an antenatal supplement. If you don’t take a multivitamin for pregnant women, you can buy folic acid and vitamin D supplements separately.

If you’re on a low income, you might be able to get pregnancy vitamin supplements free of charge under the government’s healthy start scheme. Go to for more information.

If you don’t eat fish, fish oil supplements may be helpful. Choose a supplement made from the body of the fish, not the liver. This is because fish liver oils (such as cod liver oil) may contain the retinol form of vitamin A, which isn’t recommended in pregnancy.

4. Be careful about food hygiene

There are some foods it’s safest not to eat in pregnancy. This is because they can carry a health risk for your baby.

Listeriosis is an infection caused by listeria bacteria. It’s rare and doesn’t usually pose a threat to your health. However, it can cause pregnancy or birth complications. Listeriosis can even lead to miscarriage.

The following foods may harbour listeria and so are best avoided:

  • pate of any type
  • unpasteurised milk
  • undercooked ready meals
  • soft, mould-ripened cheeses, such as brie
  • blue-veined cheeses, such as roquefort

As listeria bacteria are destroyed by heat, make sure you heat ready meals thoroughly.

Salmonella can cause food poisoning. You can catch it from eating:

  • undercooked poultry
  • Is it safe to eat soft-boiled or raw eggs during pregnancy?

Cook eggs until the white and yolk are solid. Thoroughly wash utensils, boards and your hands after handling raw poultry. Food hygiene is especially important now you’re pregnant. Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite. It’s also rare, but it can affect your unborn baby. You can cut down your risk of catching it by:

  • cooking meat and ready meals thoroughly
  • washing fruit and vegetables well to remove soil or dirt
  • wearing gloves when handling cat litter and garden soil

5. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise has many benefits for mums-to-be. It can:

  • Build your strength and endurance. This may help you to cope better with the extra weight of pregnancy and the hard work of labour.
  • Make it easier for you to get back into shape after your baby is born.
  • Boost your spirits and even help to ward off depression.

Good exercise choices for pregnancy include:

  • brisk walking
  • swimming
  • aquanatal classes
  • yoga
  • pilates

If you play sport, you can continue as long as it feels comfortable for you. However, if your particular sport carries a risk of falls or knocks, or extra stress on your joints, it’s best to stop. Talk to your GP if you’re unsure.

6. Begin doing pelvic floor exercises

Your pelvic floor comprises a hammock of muscles at the base of your pelvis. These muscles support your bladder, vagina and back passage. They can feel weaker than usual in pregnancy because of the extra pressure upon them. Pregnancy hormones can also cause your pelvic floor to slacken slightly.

Weak pelvic floor muscles put you at risk of developing stress incontinence. This is when small amounts of urine leak out when you sneeze, laugh or exercise.

Strengthening your muscles by doing pelvic floor exercises regularly throughout your pregnancy can help. Having a toned pelvic floor may help your baby’s birth go more smoothly too. You’ll feel the benefit if do eight pelvic floor squeezes, three times a day.

7. Cut out alcohol

Any alcohol you drink rapidly reaches your baby via your blood stream and placenta.

There is no way to know for sure how much alcohol is safe during pregnancy. That’s why many experts advise you to cut out alcohol completely while you’re expecting.

It’s particularly important to avoid alcohol during the first trimester, as drinking during this stage can increase your risk of miscarriage. If you do decide to drink after your first trimester, stick to no more than one or two units of alcohol, no more than once or twice a week.

Drinking heavily or binge drinking during pregnancy is especially dangerous for your baby. Mums-to-be who drink heavily on a regular basis are more likely to give birth to a baby with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). These are problems ranging from learning difficulties to more serious birth defects.

8. Cut back on caffeine

Coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks are mild stimulants. There are concerns that too much caffeine may increase your risk of miscarriage. It’s also thought possible that too much caffeine may contribute to your risk of having a low-birth-weight baby.

Current guidelines state that up to 200mg of caffeine a day won’t hurt your baby. That’s the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee.

As with alcohol, you may prefer to cut out caffeine altogether, particularly in the first trimester. Decaffeinated tea and coffee, fruit teas and fruit juices are all safe alternatives.

9. Stop smoking

Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious health problems, for you and your baby. These risks include an increased risk of:

  • miscarriage
  • premature birth
  • low birth weight
  • cot death (SIDS)

Smoking may even be associated with the loss of a baby at birth.

Smoking makes the following pregnancy complications more likely:

  • Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness).
  • Ectopic pregnancy.
  • Placental abruption, where the placenta comes away from the uterus wall before your baby is born.

If you smoke, it’s best to stop, for your own health and that of your baby. The sooner you stop smoking, the better, but it’s never too late. Even stopping in the last few weeks of your pregnancy can benefit you both. Watch a video about how smoke reaches your unborn baby.

Ask your GP or midwife to help you with ways to give up. You can also call the confidential NHS pregnancy smoking helpline on 0800 1699 169 or visit

10. Get some rest

The fatigue you feel in the first few months is due to high levels of pregnancy hormones circulating in your body. Later on, it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down.

If you can’t sleep at night, try to take a quick nap in the middle of the day to catch up. If that’s impossible, at least put your feet up and try to relax for 30 minutes.

If backache is disturbing your sleep, try lying on your left-hand side with your knees bent. Placing a wedge-shaped pillow under your bump may help ease the strain on your back.

Exercise may also give you some relief from backache. It can help with sleep problems, too, as long as you don’t exercise too close to bedtime.

To wind down ready for bed, try relaxation techniques, which are safe in pregnancy, such as:

  • yoga
  • stretching
  • deep breathing
  • visualisation
  • massage

Always let your exercise teacher know that you’re pregnant or, ideally, choose classes tailored to pregnant women.