I haven’t been a parent for very long (two years), but I’ve managed to figure out two parenting truths. The first is that your child will make a liar out of you; it’s only a matter of time. The second is that kids drink juice boxes at parties and cookouts. Period. End of story.
Bridger loves fruit, and he eats a lot of it. Some days he even eats more than I’m comfortable with. Considering all the fruit he eats, there’s really no room in his diet for fruit juice too. Plus, as much of a bummer as it is, fruit juice is pretty much just sugar (Kelly the Kitchen Kop explains).
What’s a parent to do when you would prefer your child not drink juice?
As a staunch real foodie living in the South, I have two goals when it comes to feeding my child around other people:
1. To actually succeed in feeding him real food at said public event.
2. To not really draw any attention to his real food.
I’m not out to make people feel self conscious about their food choices, and I certainly don’t want people to think I am passing judgement on what they feed their children (which is absolutely not the case). I’m simply trying to feed my toddler- a child who is too young to make his own food choices- food (or drink, as the case may be) that I deem healthy for his little growing body. In a culture where you graciously accept what you’re offered, I try to politely refuse the juice box without the other person even noticing.
(1) Reusable Juice Box
When Bridger was younger- so young he had no idea juice boxes existed- I’d use the good ole reusable juice box method. I’d fill it with water and a splash of juice and BAM. When someone (adults) offered him a juice box, I could honestly reply, “No thanks, he has juice right here.”
No condemning juice by saying he only drinks water.
No mentioning that he only has a splash of juice.
No letting on that I’m a lunatic when it comes to the ingredients in our food/drinks. (Juice box ingredients can be pretty crazy, depending on the brand.)
(Theoretically I could have just said, “No thanks, he has a drink right here” and not disclosed what he was actually drinking. But I typically have a case of word vomit and really need to be able to say he has his own juice…)
Plus I can feel great about the ingredients in the “juice” he does have. Our grocery stores carry several brands that contain 100% organic fruit juice (I usually buy this brand, but one bottle at a time). It’s pricey though, which is another reason I reserve it for special occasions.
The only real downside to the reusable juice box tactic is that a reusable juice box is… wait for it… just a sippy cup or water bottle. (We love stainless sippy cups- this one, this one, and this one.) For whatever reason, this is not as much fun as a little disposable box with a plastic straw.
(2) Coconut Water
Lately, Bridger has been asking for juice boxes when we’re cooking out with friends. He has no idea what deliciousness lies inside, so he’s not upset when I explain that it’s not his and he must drink from his own cup instead. But, if I have time to plan ahead I now grab him a plain coconut water with a straw. It’s a huge treat to him, and he gets to drink out of disposable straw box like the other kids.
I personally do not like to use disposable things at all, as I am on a quest to eliminate our massive trash and recycling output. However, I still buy a disposable coconut water here and there for B… Eco-Mothering wrote a great post comparing the nutrition versus the sustainability of juice boxes. You can read it here.
If you decided to buy coconut water to substitute for juice boxes, keep in mind you must read ingredients. There are plain (unflavored) coconut waters that contains ingredients other than just coconut water (example), and there are many flavored coconut waters. Some flavored versions are just plain coconut water with fruit puree, and others contain “natural flavors” (example), an ingredient I always avoid.
For now, I buy Bridger the plain coconut water (the only ingredient is coconut water), but as he gets older and can really request juice boxes, I’m not opposed to offering him a flavored coconut water if it buys us a few more juice box-free days.
What’s your stance on juice for children?
-AshleyPAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: To support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for supporting our efforts at Whistle Pig Hollow!