4. Finesse the flow
Now that you've identified the weak spots in your child's beverage habits, you're ready to help patch them up. Your first goal: Set a good example. "Environment is the key," says Dr. Cullen. "What's in your house, what you are drinking, dictates what your kids will consume." Institute changes gradually (for instance, tackle soda before moving on to juice), and be patient, stressing why milk, water, and a little 100% fruit juice are healthier. Here are some tips to make the transition smoother.
- Perk up milk. You could stir in chocolate or strawberry syrup. But first, see if you can get away with lower-calorie flavorings like cinnamon, peppermint extract, or vanilla extract.
- Make juice sparkle. Check out this trick to cut your child's juice intake in half: Mix it 50-50 with carbonated water. She'll love the bubbles.
- Switch sodas. Make Italian soda by mixing a little bit of cherry, grape, or orange syrup (you can buy it at the grocery store) with sparkling water.
- Flood'em with water. Keep water in the fridge, in the backpack, in the lunchbox -- anywhere that's handy. A new product that makes it hassle-free: Brita's Fill & Go plastic sports bottle, which filters the water for taste but leaves the fluoride content alone. For information on where to buy it, go to www.brita.com.