Is it Child Abuse to Give Your Toddler Soda?

Yesterday, Gawker shared a video from YouTube of a tot named Noah drinking root beer for the first time. Noah clearly loved the sugary drink, but many viewers weren’t charmed one bit. Here’s a sample of comments, cherry-picked by Gawker’s Neetzan Zimmerman:

“ONWARD TO OBESITY!!!!” “It’s like instant autism.” “Every time I see a parent feeding their kids soda I want to punch them in the face.”Some viewers even called Noah’s parents child abusers for letting him have the soda.

Although I think that it’s absolutely absurd to let your toddler drink soda, I don’t think what we’re seeing in this video is abuse. Noah seems to be a happy kid taking a few swigs of root beer from a straw. It appears to be the first time he’s ever tried it, and his reaction is pretty cute. C’mon, it’s soda, not bleach.

But I think that giving your kid soda can be abusive in certain contexts. If, for example, you’re giving your tot only soda to drink, along with a high-cal, fat-filled diet, I believe you’re committing child abuse. Your deliberately endangering your child’s health.

The childhood obesity epidemic is one reason that kids shouldn’t be drinking soda. (Adults shouldn’t be either, but I cheat from time to time, when Mason isn’t around.) We’re also seeing studies about how toxic sugar may be to our bodies. And parents need to be teaching their kids how to make healthful food choices at home, not introducing them to bad habits. Parents should model good eating habits too.

My bottom line: If your tot is thirsty, pour him a glass of milk or water. If he says he wants a drink with bubbles, give him sparkling water. There’s just no need to encourage him to drink soda, or to even make drinking it an option.

What do you think of this video? Do you let your tot drink soda?

Photo: Can of soda via Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.com

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    On June 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm

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