This post is part of an Eczema Kids’ Nutrition Series where MarcieMom looks at various food types and their impact on eczema children, with topics ranging from early introduction to elimination. Often, advice on kids’ nutrition, especially on eczema, varies and MarcieMom invites Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian to help give her thoughts on this series written by MarcieMom.
More on Toby Amidor – Toby is the founder of Toby Amidor Nutrition where she provides food and nutrition consulting services. She is the Nutrition Expert for FoodNetwork.com and Nutrition Advisor for Sear’s FitStudio.com. She is an adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Water and Our Body
We know that water is critical to the proper functioning of our body, which includes ensuring proper digestion, brain function, blood and oxygen circulation and regulating the body temperature. We hear we’ve to drink more water for glowing skin, but that is not exactly correct because water that we drink goes to the intestines, blood streams, filtered by kidneys instead of directly to the skin. A review has been conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation that concludes drinking water does not impact skin’s appearance. So, while we know that taking fluids is not the way to rehydrate our child’s skin, using sunscreen, balanced diet are essential for our child’s skin, and moiturizing is a must for those with eczema.
How Much Fluid Should Your Child Drink?
Ensuring sufficient fluid intake is important for your child and my recommendation (based on what I’ve read) is not to count glasses of water but to encourage our children to drink water throughout the day and more, if they are exercising or outdoors. Children, being smaller in size and not sweating as much, have a higher risk of dehydration and harder for them to cool off. To know how much fluid our child has lost after exercise, we can weigh him/her before and after exercise and normally, note the color of our child’s urine and whether their lips are dry.
What Fluids to Take and Which to Avoid for Your Child
Water serves its purpose by being water, so it’s always best to get your child to get used to drinking it once they start on solids. Eating fruits and vegetables also count towards their water intake, as are drinking milk and fuit juice. For children above 2 year old, low or non-fat milk can be taken and for kids below 6 year old, 4-6 ounces of juice per day can be given.
What NOT to drink is obviously artificially colored or sweetened empty calories, like soda and drinks containing hugh frutose corn syrup, no matter how kids’ appealing the packaging looks! As we learnt in this previous post, sugar is inflammatory and not good for our child. Vitamin water is also not recommended as vitamins added to water and consumed individually may not reap any benefit.
Will Drinking Softened Water Help Your Child’s Eczema?
Many parents have feedback that softened water helps but unfortunately, based on the softened water eczema trial conducted by Prof Hywel Williams and Dr Kim Thomas of the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology at the University of Nottingham, there was no difference noticed in the trial that involved 336 children whose homes were fitted with water softener.
MarcieMom: We know that ensuring sufficient fluid intake is important, what guidelines would you give to parents who want to ensure that their children consume sufficient fluid?
Toby: Have children sip water throughout the day and learn to recognize when they are thirsty before they start becoming dehydrated, especially on a hot day or after intense exercise. Also, be sure they are using the restroom to urinate on a regular basis—this is also a good sign of proper hydration. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies can also help contribute to hydration.
MarcieMom: For parents whose child’s skin is inherently dry, should they give their child more water than a child with normal skin?
Toby: No, studies do not show that more water means moister skin. Just keep them hydrated like everyone else. No more, no less.
MarcieMom: At what age would you recommend starting on fresh milk or UHT milk, instead of milk formula? Do you think that today’s milk formula with added probiotics and DHA is essential as part of our toddler’s diet or should children be getting what they need from eating a balanced diet?
Toby: The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends whole milk at 1 year of age, going to 2% (reduced fat milk) at 2 years and whole milk by 3 years of age.
Formula should be used until about 18 months— at that time, the child should be eating a varied diet of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, healthy fat, and dairy which will provide sufficient nutritional value.
MarcieMom: Finally, for children who already dislikes water, what tips do you have for their parents to get the child interested in water? (I dilute all of Marcie’s juice and let her drink ice water from the adult cup in restaurant, just like we do!)
Toby: Don’t give up when it comes to water. As any food or beverage, it takes time to enjoy it. If you want to increase the flavor, add lemon, lime, or orange slices. Children should not taste juice until at least 2 years of age—the more water is a part of their regular diet, the more they will accept it. Parents should also lead by example and serve water to the entire family.