Your kids have a taste for soda.
About half of 4- to 8-year-olds will have a soda on any given day. It has about the same amount of sugar and calories as fruity drinks, plus colas and some root beers have caffeine that will make your kids wired. "What bothers me more about soda than fruity drinks is that it's so easy for children to get it at a restaurant or even at school," says Dr. Schneider. "And it's clear that drinking soda is linked to childhood obesity."
Quench It: My daughter got her first taste of soda at a friend's birthday party last year. When we were at the supermarket the next day, she asked me if we could buy some of the "drink with all the bubbles." I overreacted, lecturing her about how unhealthy soda is. But Johnson says that's not the way to handle it: "If your child starts asking for soda, don't ban it entirely because it makes it all that much more desirable," she says. "You need to establish clear, firm limits -- like you can have it at a birthday party. Don't say 'just on special days,' because to kids everything's special." To celebrate all those great moments -- from learning how to doggy paddle to getting a big-kid bed -- she suggests that you keep a bottle of sparkling water in the fridge. You can clink glasses with your child to toast a long, healthy life.
Originally published in the June 2009 issue of Parents magazine.