Friday, July 31, 2009

Keeping Kids Hydrated - Guilt-free!

Last week, I had the 4-Year and 6-Year Well Checks. While completing the lengthy checklists for both kids (which my amazing pediatric practice now lets you download prior to your visit so that you can actually think about your responses), I guiltily checked "yes" when asked whether my child drinks more than 4 ounces of juice per day. In her great blog, "It's Not About Nutrition: The Art and Science of Teaching Kids to Eat Right," Dina Rose, Ph.D., writes that you should "treat juice as a treat, not a staple." She also adds that "regular juice consumption reinforces your child's desire for sweet flavors." She's right, she's right, I know she's right.

So, how did I end up with my guilt-ridden checkmark on the wrong side of the right way to feed my children well? I want to keep my kids hydrated. I know that they should be drinking milk and water. Luckily, we are in good shape when it comes to milk. We recently switched to milk delivered in glass bottles and that has increased my kids' consumption. Also, they like the Organic Milk Boxes in their lunchboxes for school and daycare. Yes, they cost a pretty penny, but they are worth it for 2 reasons: 1) it gets the kids to drink their milk and 2) they do not leak so the lunchboxes don't get all stinky and gross.

With milk consumption in a good place, last summer I focused on increasing the amount of water my son and daughter were drinking. I went to LLBean and bought them cute Sigg aluminum water bottles (one got Happy Planes, the other, Happy Cars) to the tune of $15 a piece. The rule was only water was going in those pricey bottles. No juice, no lemonade. Water. The novelty lasted about a week and then my son lost his during the first week of kindergarten. The only time they want to drink water is when it's Mommy's water. They want a sip out of my icy cold Kleen Kanteen. Or even better, I'm dying of thirst as we check out at Target, decide to splurge for myself on an expensive and non-environmentally friendly bottled water and they, of course, want one too. They will get in the car with their ginormous water bottles, take one sip, and either abandon the rest or spill it.

The kids are willing to drink milk with lunch and dinner, but that leaves breakfast, two snacks and everything in between. And that is how I ended up going over the 4 ounces of juice. My son went to full day kindergarten this past year after drinking 4 ounces of apple juice with breakfast, a 6.75 oz Motts for Tots for morning snack, and a Capri Sun Roarin Waters with his afternoon snack. Hydrated? Yes. Healthy? Not so much.

Check out the NuVal scores for last year's plan:

Breakfast: Motts 100% Apple Juice 10

Morning Snack: Motts for Tots Apple 20

Afternoon Snack: Capri Sun Roarin Water Cherry 10

So, what can I do differently? Grocery stores in my area do not have NuVal scores yet, so I had to research this one, write down some products, shop in a few different stores and conduct home taste tests, but it was worth it. Check it out:

Breakfast: Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D 51

Morning Snack: Minute Maid Kids with Vitamins and Calcium 70

Afternoon Snack: Minute Maid Fruit Falls Water 41

We're still over the 4 ounce juice limit, but at least we've traded up for better NuVal scores. If we can switch one serving of juice to water, I can have guilt-free 5-Year and 7-Year Well Checks. We'll get there.


  1. I loved your blog and am guilty of giving my kids juice. I do water the juice down so that makes me feel a little better ;-). In an effort to get them to drink more water I have been buying the propel pouches to put in the water - how does that rate? Also I know plain milk is the best but where does chocolate milk rate? I typically buy the garelick farms 1% chocolate milk. Thanks!

  2. I escape juice by going to Vitamin Water and Propel.... I know they both have sugar as well. Is there any benefit to those over juice?

  3. I'm so glad you wrote about this today. I had my son's 2 year appt this afternoon and his cholesteral is a little high. He drinks WAY too much milk. I never gave him juice because I knew it wasn't great for him and he'll only drink so much water a day. I love the scores you looked up for better juice options. I'm going to give them a try!

  4. Mlopes -
    We are in the process of scoring the Propel pouches but we have not released those scores to our website as of yet. If you are near a Price Chopper, Hy-Vee or Meijer store, you may see that score on the shelf.

    As you might guess, chocolate milk scores significantly lower than fat free plain milk. Here are some sample scores:

    Deans Fat Free Skim Milk 91
    Hood Simply Smart Chocolate Milk Fat Free 33

    For more milk scores, go to: and click on See the Scores.

  5. To Anonymous with Questions About Vitamin Water and Propel:

    We are in the process of scoring Sports Drinks, but we have not released those scores to our website yet. However, did you see the article about juices, teas and energy drinks this week? Research shows they can have harmful effects on teeth.

    See the article at

  6. I still water down my kids' juice and I don't buy juice boxes anymore. My children know juice for breakfast, milk or H20 with lunch and dinner. Occassionally, during the summer lemonade or ice-tea with a snack. It is all about moderation! And try to give the mommy-guilt a break....we do the best we can on any given day!!

  7. Any evaluations of the Simply Smart Orange Juice? My son would drink OJ 24/7 if I let him. This info is great.

  8. Simply Smart Orange Juice scores a 36. A better choice would be Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D, which scores a 51.