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Sugar-free drinks for fussy kids

by Sarah Spence

There’s no denying that good, old-fashioned H20 is best to keep little tackers hydrated and running around all day long. But sometimes, water just doesn’t cut it. 

Maybe you’re hitting the shops after a long day, and everyone is frayed, frazzled and over it. Or perhaps you’re throwing a kids’ birthday party, and you can’t bear to cater with drinks that you know come with a mountain of sugar (fruit juice and soft drinks: we’re looking at you).

So where do you turn to keep your kids and fussy eaters (and drinkers) happy? What are the great sugar-free alternatives? And can children drink kombucha, kefir and other fermented products? Read on to find out!


Sugar ain’t great for kids

sugar free toddlers

We know we’re stating the obvious here, but in case you need convincing, sugar isn’t wonderful for kids.

Research suggests that added sugar (especially in sugar-sweetened drinks) contributes to weight gain and obesity in children and increases the risk of tooth decay in kids.

Meanwhile, other research in adults has shown links between sugar and:

    Sweeteners and “sugar-free” substitutes

    That’s the bad news. The so-called good news is that the market is now flooded with sugar-free everything these days, from yoghurt to cola. So you and your kids don’t have to miss out. 

    But a word of warning… Just because something is marketed as sugar-free, that doesn’t make it good for your kids.

    Research suggests that some of the artificial sweeteners in popular sugar-free soft drinks can have nasty effects on health. For example, anything with sucralose can reduce insulin sensitivity and do a number on gut flora.

    As a rule of thumb, we reckon it’s best to avoid artificial flavours, colours, sweeteners and, artificial anythings. So look out for – and stay away from! – aspartame, sucralose, saccharine and neotame. 

    Instead, go for natural sweeteners like stevia and erythritol (pssst - you’ll find these in the Nexba range).

    Both erythritol and stevia are safe, healthy, natural alternatives to sugar. In fact, research has even shown some positive benefits to these sweeteners:

      Sugar-free drinks for children

      From fizzy drinks to fermented beverages, let’s look at some great alternatives to serve up for your kids.


      1. Soft drinks and sparkling water.

      Keen on ditching the traditional, sugar-laden lemonade, but want to keep your kids happy? A sugar-free soft drink or flavoured sparkling water (made with natural sweeteners, of course!) could be a good switch. 

      Just keep in mind that these drinks are probably best as a ‘sometimes or treat food’ and not as part of an everyday diet. Yes, they’re safe, but they also tend to be low in nutrients and vitamins.


      can toddlers drink kombucha


      2. Kombucha, kefir and other fermented drinks.

      We know you’re always trying to get more of the good stuff into your kids. So how do fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir stack up? Pretty darn well, actually!

      Kombucha, kefir and other fermented drinks are packed with probiotics, the good bacteria. These probiotics help both little bodies and big bodies to digest food and create important vitamins. They’ve also been linked to a bunch of health benefits, such as boosting your immune system and improving allergy and asthma symptoms. 

        When it comes to giving kids foods that include probiotics, recent research published in the Journal of Pediatrics and Pediatric Medicine gives these drinks a big thumbs up. The researchers suggested introducing fermented foods to children early in life and incorporating these foods into kids’ everyday diets. 

        In fact, fermented foods could be especially important for kids who have a higher risk of gastrointestinal infections.


        Can kids drink kefir?

        In case you don’t know, kefir is a delicious, nutrient-packed, fermented drink that tastes a bit like natural yoghurt. It’s slightly sweet and slightly sour, and it can be made from either milk or water. And the best news? Kefir is considered perfectly safe for children to drink!

        But how much kefir should your child drink per day? Like anything in life, moderation is key. One serve per day is enough to give your littlies a bunch of vitamins and probiotics and help them keep a nice, healthy balance of good bacteria in their bodies.


        Can children drink kombucha?

        Like kefir, kombucha is a fermented drink that’s packed with probiotics. It’s made from oolong tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. It has a tart-but-sweet taste and is lightly sparkling, thanks to the fermentation process.

        Many parents are concerned about caffeine and alcohol content when it comes to kombucha. And while this may be an issue with home-brewed ‘booch’, it isn’t for Nexba Kombucha, which has no caffeine or alcohol – guaranteed.


        Sarah Spence
        Sarah Spence


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