Monday, August 28, 2006

Milk vs. Juice

We make hundreds of simple decisions each day. Paper or plastic. Red shirt or blue. Cheerios or Oatmeal. Most of us have preferences when it comes down to it. Some are more rigid about their choices than others. One choice that many mothers often wrestle with is that of what to give their toddler to drink: Milk or Juice?

All mommies can be categorized as either Juice Mommies or Milk Mommies. Some are strict, never allowing the alternative to be served at their table. Others simply have a preference, but let the other beverage visit the sippy cup occasionally. Is there a right answer in the Milk vs. Juice debate?

Now that I am a full time toddler chef, menu planner and nutritionist, I notice that I am becoming more shrewd when it comes to what I feed Aveline. I want to give her the best start possible, so that she can reach her potential. I want her to grow up knowing what is good for her and making healthy mealtime choices. I know I don't always make the best choices, so I am struggling to make these things habits for myself as well.

For us, incorporating milk into her diet was a no-brainer. I grew up on a dairy farm and have studied and preached the benefits of dairy products in a well balanced diet since I was a teen. It never occurred to me that there were children in the world who drank anything other than milk at a meal until I left for Ohio State. It shocks me to find that some children NEVER drink milk at all. Many parents think that juice is a better alternative to other beverage options, considering it is made from fruit (healthy) and contains no fat. In small quantities, juice is a wonderful thing. It does contain many vitamins needed for a balanced diet. One thing many parents forget is that juice contains large amounts of sugar, something a toddler does not need. Most juices contain more sugar than an equivalent glass of soda. A toddler should drink only 6-8 ounces of juice a day. Many nutritionist also recommend using whole fruits to meet those dietary requirements rather than solely relying on juice.

I know many parents would be hesitant to serve their children chocolate milk rather than juice, reasoning that the flavored milk would contain more sugar than the fruit juice. In equal servings, the chocolate milk contains less sugar. It also gives your child calcium and fat needed to grow and develop. Many kids these days are not getting the recommended amount of milk needed to fill their dietary needs. Toddlers Aveline's age need 18-24 ounces each day.

I am a Milk Mommy. I feel I made the correct decision for my family. It was an inherent choice for me, but a choice I had to make. I do allow Aveline to occasionally drink juice, but try to give her whole fruits instead. She really does not like juice the way she loves milk. You should hear her hoot like an orangutan when I present her with her morning sippy of the white stuff. I too am trying to drink more milk. It does a body good!


Jamie said...

I hope cheyanna will enjoy milk. I have tried her formula in her sippy and she was less than thrilled. She is actually starting to turn away from her formula.

I want her to drink more of the formula and then go to milk, but right now she gets watery toddler juice, made by graduates. It is 40% watered down and contains less sugar than 100% fruit juice. I also add another 10% water to it to lower the sugar level more.

Wish me luck on the milk thing. I hate to drink it, so does my mom, so if she refuses, it really won't be a surprise I guess.

Laura said...

I'm hoping Isaac will be a milk-lover! For now, it's nursing or water in a sippy!

Christina said...

Cordy drinks both. We give her a sippy cup of juice in the morning, and then milk for lunch and dinner. During snacks she has juice or milk.

Now, the juice we give her is the Mott's Plus Kids - 100% juice, with added vitamins and calcium. Plus I always mix it with at least 50% water (2/3 water for snacktime).

She loves both, but I think she still prefers her milk more. It's funny that she loves milk so much - Aaron is lactose intolerant, and I've never been a milk drinker, but she loves the stuff!