How to Wean Children From Juice
It likely started out as an occasional treat at a birthday party or restaurant. But as soon as your little one tasted this sweet, sweet juice, the fresh old milk and water were no longer as attractive. And now juice is all they want to drink.
We got it, kids. We, too, would like to drink only soda all day, but all this sugar is bad for us. And now the team is further emphasizing that we must strictly limit – if not completely eliminate – any drinks with sugar or other sweeteners, from 100% fruit juice to chocolate milk, for children ages 5 and younger.
This week, the New York Times reported stricter guidelines from the Healthy Nutrition Research Center and developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry:
The group noted that infants should only receive breast milk or formula. At 6 months, water can be added to the diet; Infants receiving formula can be switched to cow’s milk at 12 months. According to the recommendations, in the first five years, children should drink mainly milk and water.
Notable in the guidelines ( you can find full details here ) is the suggestion that toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 consume just 4 ounces (half a glass) of juice a day. This increases slightly to 4-6 ounces for 4-5 year olds.
If you are reading this and thinking, “Oh … little Johnny drinks a lot more than half a glass a day,” all is not lost. You can reduce their juice intake by following a few steps.
Pour it over
It’s a classic trick (and if you do it right from the start, they won’t tell the difference) to pour over that 100% juice. Mix half a glass of water with that half glass of juice and Johnny now has a nice 8 ounce drink.
If they are already accustomed to the intense taste, you may need to start with a little water and add more each time to make the taste change less noticeable.
Refueling must be water
We have had a rule in our house since my son was little and started ordering drinks in restaurants besides regular milk – one and ready. If you are still thirsty after this, you can drink some water. It is so ingrained in him that now, at 8 years old, he automatically orders water from the waiter when he runs out of chocolate milk.
Make it a drink for your special occasion
These sugary drinks do increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems in children (and drinking small amounts of them often can make them taste better overall). But every now and then it’s okay. And you can come back to this.
Make juice, lemonade and chocolate milk special again by storing it exclusively for birthdays, holidays and restaurants. Or maybe pick one night a week when they can eat a less healthy alternative (if you’re hosting a Friday pizza night, this seems like a natural option). However, it is more difficult to adhere to this if you have things in your home.
Which brings us to our ultimate weaning advice:
Stop buying it
Complete whatever is left in your home and don’t buy any more . If it’s not in the fridge, that’s not an option. It will surely cause tears at first, but over time they will have to adjust. And if you’ve poured enough water on it, it probably doesn’t taste so good for them anymore.