Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Raising Children on Natural Fruit and Vegetable Juices

Most children take immediately to drinking juices; unfortunately it’s usually the sugar-rich commercially prepared and bottled juices that they favor. Getting children to take to the more healthful natural fruit and vegetable juices, made fresh at home in a quality juice extractor like the Breville BJE510XL Juicer, can be a bit more challenging for parents, but it can be done. I’ve been through it with my children, who are now grown and training their own little ones. It’s much easier to get them to enjoy natural fruit and vegetable juices if you start when they are infants. They’ll try anything that you set in front of them. Of course, you may have it spit out quickly directly at you, but they will try it and eventually get used to it. Getting them to try new mixes of natural juices when they become toddlers, however, is the real test of parental patience and commitment. Some of the methods and tricks used by me and some of my friends are given below.

Introduce children to the fruits and vegetables before juicing

Don’t give a child the juice from any fruit without having the child see and taste the fruit in its natural state. You can apply the same rule to vegetables that are edible and tasty without being cooked. For example, raw carrots and broccoli can be great tasty treats; raw potatoes and Brussels sprouts cannot. Never have the child try a new fruit or vegetable before the child sees you taste and enjoy it. Toddlers aren’t stupid. If mom and dad won’t try it, neither will they.

Start with a sweet guarantee of success – Apples

Children are naturally drawn to sweet flavors. I’ve never seen or heard of a child turning down bottled apple juice. With your child watching, process enough apples in your juicer to make two eight-ounce glasses of juice. Sit with her and ask her to join you in taste testing your new experiment. You sip yours first and let your child triy the juice at her own pace. She’ll quickly develop a taste for the apple juice. You can then experiment by adding fruits and vegetables to the juice mix. Offer a selection: grapes, pears, carrots, and so on. Let the child pick one to mix. She’ll be more apt to try and enjoy her own selection. Soon, you’ll be adding cucumbers, celery, spinach and lettuce to the mix.

Serve juice so they taste it without seeing it

There have been times when I have made a quantity of juice, while the kids were in school, and stored it in the refrigerator for later use. When children are used to participating in juicing, and having a say or at least knowledge of what is in the juice, it is difficult to get them to try a new juice that they know nothing about. I’ve solved this problem several times by presenting my concoction as a new “mystery juice.” I’ve made it a challenge by presenting it in an opaque paper cup with a plastic cap and a straw. If a juice is untried, kids can be put off by the color and texture. Green, for example could be sweet delicious kiwi juice or it could be spinach, and kids may not wish to take a taste risk. By masking the color in an opaque container, only tasting will solve the mystery. When you do this, however, instill confidence in the kids by taking the first sip in front of them and let them know how much you’re enjoying it.

Be persistent – Not authoritarian

There will be times, many in my experience, when a natural juice mix will be rejected by your child. You may wish to introduce a new vegetable into the juice, for reasons concerning good nutrition. Your child may not like the taste, or simply may not be in the mood. Be persistent over time. Offer the same juice on another day. Try mixing the desired vegetable with a different fruit combination. Whatever you do, don’t force, cajole, or pressure the child to try the juice. Even if she liked it, she’d resist it in the future if she felt that drinking it was an obligatory chore.

Short-term effort for long-term health

After reading the above discussion, you may think that getting high-quality, nutritious, natural juices into your children will be a constant challenge, but it’s not that bad. You’ll quickly find a favorite juice base that each child likes, and you can build off from this base juice by adding added fruits and vegetables that you feel are important for the child’s growth and development. By including the child in some of the juicing decisions and permitting her to participate in the creation of these juices, you’ll promote good health in the long term and develop habits in the child that will ensure her pursuit of healthful nutritional habits in her future.  

This guest post was written by Christine Allen, mama to two lovely kids from Livesnet,  a site where you can find great reviews for baby gears and  some useful parenting tips as well. Please visit Livesnet and check out her latest Breville 800JEXL Juicer Review.

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