Although fruit juice seems a healthy option, you must give it sparingly to babies and toddlers. Natural fruit juice contains lots of sugar and even though these are natural sugars, it can lead to tooth decay and even hinder development. The sugar concentrations can bring on diarrhea in young children. Your baby should never be given fruit juice before six months, and it's best avoided before the age of a year. In the first years, water is much better for your babies to drink through the day. If you do give fruit juice, give them no more than half a beaker a day, and rather than giving it all at once, just pour a small amount into their cup and dilute heavily with water. You'll find fruit juices specially formulated for babies in the baby product aisle of supermarkets; these are more diluted and may be fortified with extra vitamin C, but regular juices are adequate, and a cheaper option, so long as they are diluted appropriately.
Having a routine helps your young children understand where they are in the day, and bath time is an important signal that it's almost time for bed. At the end of the day, babies and toddlers may be tired and almost looking forward to sleep, but it can also be a stressfull time for you if they are over tired and become uncontrolled, running away from you and making the bath routine a physical drain on you! Try to avoid conflict at this stage of the day, the last thing you want to do is wind up the children so that they don't go to sleep when needed. Instead, try to make bath time a relaxing time and use it to calm them down.
There are plenty of bubble and smelly products formulated specially for children's gentle skin that can be added to the bath. Encourage them to play with the water because water can soothe them and calm them. There are plenty of toys designed for the bath, but don't be afraid of using anything waterproof such as plastic bottles, plastic pots and even some of their regular toys so long as they won't trap water inside and spoil.
Encourage your children to think about what will sink and what will float, and have them pour water to learn about the way that water behaves. Pour water from one cup, bowl or bottle to another, to learn about volume, about what holds most water, and what happens to water when it overflows. These are all important lessons as they grow up. Children can often entertain themselves for considerable periods in the bath simply by experimenting, and it's all learning play for them, giving them a thorough understanding of the many properties of water. Why not introduce some ice to their play? ...not so much that it makes the water too cold, but a couple of blocks so that they can see it melt, and learn that ice melts to water. Water is a strange substance, one that we take so much for granted, but a substance that has so much to teach your growing toddlers.
A baby requires around 500ml (18oz) liquid a day, a young child requires up to 1½l (50oz) per day - here are some tips to ensure your young children ges the fluid they require each day...
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