Too Much Juice
Your kid is a juice junkie.
There's no doubt that any flavor of 100 percent fruit juice is healthy -- it's packed with vitamins and heart-healthy antioxidants. "But it's incredibly easy for children to get too much of a good thing," says Johnson. My daughter can suck down an orange-juice box in two minutes, but eating a Valencia would take her at least 15. Plus, juice doesn't fill kids up nearly as much as fruit does -- even though it has a lot more calories. "An apple, at 60 or 70 calories, will satisfy hunger more than a 120-calorie cup of apple juice will, because the apple has a couple of grams of fiber," says Johnson. The AAP recommends no more than six ounces of 100 percent fruit juice daily for children ages 1 to 6, and only 12 ounces or fewer for older children.
Quench It: To stretch those six ounces, I've always watered down my daughter's juice. Surprisingly, nutritionists want parents to get away from this. "I'd rather make it a rule that kids get one juice box a day and when it's done, there's no more until tomorrow," say Johnson. "If you're constantly splashing water in their juice or juice in their water, you'll never get your child used to drinking something that isn't sweet."
To make plain water more appealing, she advises catching your child when she's thirsty. "Many kids constantly carry a cup with them, so they never feel thirst," she says. "You don't want to dehydrate your kid. But you can let him run around outside for a half hour and then offer a glass of cold water when he comes back in the house." Another tactic: Make H2O the one self-serve drink in your house. "Fill a small plastic pitcher and put it on the bottom shelf of the fridge," suggests Kerry Neville, RD, of Seattle, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "Then tell your child that he can fill his cup whenever he wants."