The Power of Beverages
At Muso Yochien (Dream Window Kindergarten) where I taught in Japan, the “fix-all” remedy was ume-sho-ban, which is a mixture of bancha (a low-caffeine green tea) with shoyu (tamari) sauce and a salty pickled umeboshi plum. For every kind of upset, from a fall to a stomachache to an emotional disturbance, this traditional Japanese medicinal remedy calmed the children at the kindergarten. Ume-sho-ban is much like chicken soup in Western cultures. While customs are different around the world, beverages play an essential role in keeping fluid levels balanced.
During his first year, the primary nourishment for your baby is breast milk or formula. He does not need a lot of additional fluids, because they can make his stomach full, reducing his consumption of milk, which is his essential food for growth and development. If he is drinking formula, small amounts of other fluids may be necessary for his kidneys to excrete the extra salt found in the formula. When he starts solids, there is also liquid in the foods that he eats, such as, pureed grains, vegetables, and fruits.
The amount of fluids your baby drinks gradually increases as he approaches one year old, but your breast milk or formula is the primary beverage he needs for his first year.
Formula-fed babies consume water from their first day, and breast-fed babies consume water secondhand. If you are nursing, make sure to keep yourself hydrated with plenty of water and other fluids without added sweeteners, yeasts, or caffeine. Healthy, clean water is essential; beverages, such as soup broth and pureed soup, offer additional vitamins and minerals, as well as provide fluids for hydration.
Barley tea, along with the majority of other herbal teas, have an alkaline-producing effect on your baby’s system. Coconut water, rice milk, nut milk, soy milk, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, amazake, and vegetable and fruit juices have nutrients, as well as hydrating qualities.
Water and fluids are necessary for healthy functioning of your baby’s body—for hydration, to keep his body at the proper temperature, to move waste through his system, and to support joints and muscles. Fluids are easily and quickly absorbed and released through waste and sweat.
Water may contain trace minerals, depending on the source. However, each water source varies in its concentration, so water is not a dependable source for any specific mineral. Make sure that the water your baby consumes does not contain contaminants.
When your baby becomes more active through walking, he also begins to eat more solid foods and decrease his consumption of breast milk or formula. Because he is more active and drinking less milk at this age, around a year old, he needs more fluids. Activity and movement require energy that he gets from fluids, calories, and nutrients. He also may lose fluids, nutrients, and electrolytes, or electrically charged salts that are necessary for cellular function, through sweating.
Beverages help replenish nutrients and keep him hydrated. Dehydration can happen quickly at times of extreme heat, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, or airplane travel, so be especially aware of keeping your baby hydrated, especially at those times.