What About Juice?


What About Juice?

I had an interesting conversation recently with a mother of a 7 month old little boy, one who is just starting to explore the world of foods. The mother is a nurse, very concerned about health and nutrition issues. She asked me what I think about juices for kids, and if I think it is a good idea to dilute bottled juice with water so that it is less concentrated. I think she was a little surprised when I told her that generally, I don’t think that babies and toddlers should be served juice at all, even in watered down form. This little encounter reminded me of how much we’ve all come to expect that “infants should drink juice!”

My concern about juice for young kids goes beyond the points about its lack of nutritional value. Have you ever actually tasted the juices that are marketed for kids? Try them, and I bet you’ll be surprised, as I was, about the level of sweetness and the general “off” taste that you will find. Kids’ juices, I discovered, are not like their adult counterparts that actually offer some semblance of flavor variety and even a little texture. Kiddie Juices can only be described as sweet, sweet and more sweet.

In my book, I write about a detailed flavor taste test that friends and I conducted, comparing various children’s juices on the market. We found two consistent traits: First, the juices all had an “off” aroma, meaning that the odor bears some resemblance to what you would expect it to be – but somehow, it’s just not quite right. Most of these juices are really pungent, sort of like the fruit is overly ripe. And second – again – we were knocked over by the sweetness. If you think adult orange, apple or cranberry juice is sweet, just try a sip of a children’s product! And no wonder – look at the labels, and you’ll see that most kid’s juices contain anywhere from 25 to 34 grams of sugar per cup (8.5 teaspoons of sugar!)

What does all this sweet, sweet in the cup teach young children to expect? That beverages should be sweet! It’s a perfect primer for an over-fondness for soda in later years.


4 Responses to “What About Juice?”

  1. midnightsnack Says:

    I have a friend – an adult – who just lost 25 pounds effortlessly by simply cutting grapefruit juice out of her diet. She looks amazing and feels much better.

    On the other hand, my son will not drink milk, so he does drink a lot of orange juice with calcium. The only other choice for him is water.

    Lisa Cherkasky

  2. Mary Elisa Says:

    I think the food marketers have done a great job at brainwashing parents into thinking that juice boxes are the way to go for our children’s beverages. Has anyone ever been to a birthday or school party that hasn’t served some type of juice box or pouch? There is a fairly new organic juice pouch made by Honest Tea that is called Honest Kids. One juice pouch has 10 grams of sugar, which is much lower than other brands. At least there is one company that is producing lower sugar options.

  3. Nancy White Says:

    My boys have other issues with eating healthy foods, but drinking juice is not one of them thankgoodness. They were always given water as babies/toddlers and never developed a real taste for anything else. Sometimes they will have orange juice, if we have it in the house. Usually, we do not have anything but milk in the fridge, so water is the only other option, which helps with juice temptations.

  4. Antonia Malchik Says:

    A friend of mine did an article last year on pediatric dentists. Across the board, the dentists said they’ve seen a big upsurge in cavities from 2-year-olds on up. Not just little cavities, big ones, and lots of them. The biggest culprit? Juice. (And raisins. Dentists do not like raisins, lots of concentrated fruit sugar stuck in kids’ teeth.)

    My son still only gets milk and water. If he asks for juice, the option is grapefruit, which we have because my husband likes it. He rarely drinks it except when he’s sick. Other than that, what’s wrong with yummy water?

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