In a world where we are bombarded with choice, including when it comes to food and drink, it is important that parents influence the eating and drinking habits of their children, especially when faced with a plethora of products in brightly coloured packaging or featuring images of cartoon characters geared to prickle little minds.

Children ‘parrot’ their parent’s behaviours from a very young age, so it is vital that you make good food and drink choices and express pleasure in them, especially in front of the children and especially for healthier foods and drinks, while toning this down for less healthy products.

A survey conducted in the UK, featuring 1,000 parents, showed that children between the ages of 4 and 8 showed that what the parents drank significantly influenced what their children drank. Children of parents who drank carbonated drinks were almost three times more likely to drink fizzy drinks than other 4 to 8 year-olds. According to the survey, 12% of all 4 to 8 year-olds drank at least one fizzy drink every day – where the parents also drank fizzy or carbonated drinks this rose to 35%.

Children of parents who regularly drank juice were more than twice as likely to also drink fruit juice daily. While fruit juice is healthy, too much is not! Public Health England’s new Eatwell Guide advises that intakes of fruit juice and/or smoothies should be limited to a total of 150ml a day as they are a source of free sugars.

More than 60% of the children surveyed drank plain water on a daily basis, and where parents in the household regularly drank Palin water this rose to 87%.

Tips on getting your youngsters to drink more water include:

  • Add a slice of cucumber, a strawberry, a slice of orange or kiwi, or a hint of mint to the water
  • Mention the temperature – “would you like a nice ‘cold’ drink of water?”
  • Offer drinking water in different tumblers, drinking or sports bottles, add fun ice shapes or a coloured/curly straw

Another way to get everyone to drink more water is by ensuring that their drinking water is chilled, tastes great and is easily accessible by investing in a water cooler.