Drinking Juice 24/7
Why it's bad
A small amount of 100 percent juice can be a healthy part of a child's diet. However, more than a half cup or so a day fills up little tummies, so there's less room for food, and it may cause toddlers to get diarrhea. Though research hasn't found a link between drinking juice and gaining too much weight, it's definitely a source of extra calories (about 110 in a cup of apple juice) that add up quickly. It can supply vitamin C, but so can other foods: Your kid will get his day's worth of C from half an orange or a half cup of broccoli.
How to break the habit
- Ditch the sippies. Serve juice in a regular cup at the table. Kids won't be able to gulp it down as quickly (or cart it around the house all afternoon).
- Offer water first. Don't give your child juice when he's really thirsty -- he'll guzzle way too much, way too quickly, says Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Start handing out plain water after playground time or soccer practice. (Trust us: Thirsty kids will drink it.) Then let him enjoy the taste of smaller amounts of juice later, when he's not so parched.
- Dilute, dilute, dilute. Water juice down by at least half. Use seltzer to make it more fun and a squirt of lemon juice to intensify the flavor. Just remember, offering diluted juice all day defeats the purpose. Make sure that the juice-and-water mix doesn't exceed one to two cups a day.