Freshly made natural fruit and vegetable juices are excellent vitamin and mineral rich components of any child’s diet. Of course, for these juices to benefit your child, the child must drink them, and that can sometimes be a problem. Many children take to natural juices and enjoy them without reservation. Some children, who began drinking commercially prepared, highly sugared juices, tend to reject natural juices. Other children, for undetermined reasons, simply resist drinking juices of any type.
Many responsible parents are trying to improve their children’s nutrition by serving home processed natural fruit and vegetable juices. For some who are lucky enough to have children in the first category mentioned above, the process is simple. For those parents who have children in the latter categories, some helpful hints are offered below.
Developing the Habit
In my experience with juicing, most juices made in juicers, like Breville BJE510XL designed for home use are quite concentrated: fine for adults, but sometimes difficult for children to accept. Sometimes these concentrated juices are difficult to swallow. Oftentimes their relatively thick texture causes children to reject them. Generally though, especially with vegetable juices or vegetable and fruit juice mixtures, the flavors are too intense for the young palate. I’ve found that diluting the juices with varying amounts of water for different ages makes the juices more readily acceptable to young children.
Before my children were old enough to start on pureed baby foods, I would give them highly diluted apple, pear, and peach juices. The mild flavor and watery texture of these juices seemed to be perfect for their infant palates. The only fruit that my child initially rejected was the peach juice, perhaps because of its more acidic taste.
When my children were between the ages of about one to three years old, I introduced other fruits like mangoes, bananas, and various berries. It is also at this age that I began to mix very small amounts of vegetable juices in with the fruit juices. I usually used apple juice as the major mixer, and started the vegetable mix with carrots, which have a natural sweetness. My kids never really noticed the difference. I continued to increase the amount of carrot juice until I had them accepting juices that I would prepare for myself.
From about four years old and on up, I began to introduce other vegetable and juice combinations. I also began to experiment with juices that contained more vegetable mixes such as broccoli, celery, and spinach. Very often it took several different attempts and combinations of fruits and vegetables to get the children to accept the new flavors, but in most cases they did. I will admit, however, that the broccoli mix always had to be minimal to be accepted.
As the children got older, I included them in the juicing process, letting them select the fruits and vegetables to mix together. The truth be known, they often came up with some concoctions that I wouldn’t give to my worst enemy, but when they did find a mix that they liked, they took pride in their “invention” and drank it often.
Maintaining the Habit
Drinking natural vegetable and fruit juices is a great way to get many important vitamins and minerals into young children, but it’s not simply an aid to child growth and development. It’s a healthful lifelong habit. By introducing children to natural juices during their infancy and toddlerhood, you increase the probability that they will continue the practice into their adult years. There is one note of caution, however, don’t labor under the impression that drinking juices from vegetables and fruits provide the same benefits as eating those same fruits and vegetable in their natural state. In my house, as the children got older, we had a hard and fast rule. We never mixed any fruits of vegetable into our juices that we did not eat as whole vegetables. To my family, natural home processed juices are important complements to our regular consumption of fruits and vegetables.
As your children get older and attend high school, spare time often becomes a rarity and it becomes more difficult to maintain the healthful habits learned in the toddler and grade school years. Vending machines and school cafeterias will be offering tempting commercial sweetened juices. Teach them, when young, to read labels. When they select juices outside the home, have them look for those that have no added sugars or that limit the ingredients to only a percentage of real juice. Where possible, have them learn to prepare and bring their juices from home.
Christine Allen, mama to two lovely kids from Livesnet, a site where you can find great baby gear reviews and some helpful parenting tips. She loves to write about her hunting experience of baby products and is quite willing to give advice to new mommy hunters.