Juicing for Kids: How to Get Your Kids to Drink Green Juice
As I’ve been discussing, while commercial fruit juices are really not the best for your kids’ health, juice itself can be hugely beneficial. The trick is to buy a good juicer and then make juices packed with healthy vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and enzymes fresh for your kids. The best juices contain nutrient-rich veggies, especially dark leafy greens. But how to get your child to drink juice with greens in them when even a small amount of greens change the color of your child’s entire drink?
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to tackle this problem. To my mind, there are five main strategies to getting your kids to drink green juice: habituation, stealth, participation, copycat, and reverse psychology. Use the strategy (or strategies) that you think will work best for your child.
Habituation is, you guessed it, making green juice a habit. This means educating your kids from early on that green equals good, and by ‘good’ I mean ‘tasty!’ The best time to start is from the very beginning. Start in pregnancy and you’ll set your child up for a lifetime of juicing. Babies in mum’s third trimester can taste what she’s eating via amniotic fluid they swallow. Studies show that babies whose mothers drank carrot juice in their third trimester showed a marked preference for it when they were given it to drink themselves.*
Babies can begin having juice from 6 months of age up, although juice should supplement, rather than replace, their normal food consumption. Babies don’t have any preconceptions about what is good and bad, so they won’t look at green juice and think “gross!” like many adults will. So if you start your baby on green juice and continue giving it to them as they grow up, your child will have strong positive associations with drinking green juice.
Habituation can work with older kids, too, especially when paired with some of the other techniques below. Introduce them to the Beginner’s Green Juice in yesterday’s post and if they’re brave enough to try it, they’ll quickly discover they won’t even taste the greens in it. That recipe is all sweetness – the greens just give it a bit of color and a small nutritional boost. The major benefits of it are getting kids over their fear of drinking a juice that looks so totally green. Get them used to drinking that and you can slowly introduce more greens, as well as other veggies, into their juices without them batting an eye.
Okay, I know some parents will probably slam me for this tactic, but it can definitely work for some kids! Stealth means slipping green juice in without your kids noticing. The best way to do this is to use a cup your child can’t see through. For young kids, this is perfect. Most young kids are accustomed to (or at least willing to) drink from a sippy cup of sorts. If so, choose an opaque sippy cup (like the Gerber Sip & Smile Spill-proof Cups shown in the picture at right, or the Playtex Sipster Cup) and fill it with Beginner’s Green Juice – then watch how your child doesn’t notice you haven’t just given them delicious plain fruit juice! With each passing week, try increasing the percentage of green in the juice ever so slightly and see if your child notices. Eventually you should be able to switch to a regular sippy cup and show them that this is the juice they’ve been drinking all along.
This is the very best strategy to use if you have older kids (babies won’t get much out of it, but toddlers might). Kids love to help out in the kitchen and are much more likely to eat something they’ve grown or made themselves. It’s simple: Get them to help make the juice! Have them choose a combination of fruits and veggies and let them be creative.
You’re the boss in your home and rules are good for kids, so you might want to come up with some useful rules to encourage your kids to drink healthy juice or to avoid wastage. Here are some ideas:
- You must drink the juice you make
- You must include at least one green element (e.g., a couple stalks of celery, a cucumber, or a handful or two of greens)
- Each member of the family will make juice for the whole family for breakfast on a rotating roster
- If you have a masticating or cold press juicer and not much time, designate one morning a week (such as Sunday morning) to do the juicing for the whole week. (Masticating juicers produce juice that contains more nutrients and enzymes, for much longer, so you can really juice once a week.) Make a few different kinds of juice, put them in bottles, and have them all week long.
By getting your kids involved in helping out and giving them control, they’ll find it a fun family activity, they can exercise some creativity, and you can get them to drink fresh, healthy fruit and vegetable juice.
The essence of this strategy is basically to lead by example. My kids are like puppies sometimes – if they see an adult eating something, they immediately want some (“Right now!” as my toddler says). If you have a child like this, you can get them to start drinking green juice simply by drinking it yourself! Our kids will drink all sorts of juices, drink whole fruit smoothies, and eat salads and dark leafy greens with gusto, simply because they see us consuming these things all the time, on a regular basis. How frequently do your kids see you drinking green juice??
A lot of my friends have babies and toddlers who are just the opposite of our kids. Rather than copying their parents, they want to do the exact opposite. If mommy and daddy are eating it, these kids turn up their noses at it. If that’s the case, you can employ the opposite strategy – “refuse” to drink it and hopefully your kids will take the bait (of course, you can and should drink green juice when they’re not looking! It’s good for adults, too!).
Another trick I find works with my toddler when he’s refusing to eat something is simply to take it away. I take it away and tell him he’s not allowed to have it. As soon as it’s gone he wants it again. And he’ll gobble it up! Of course I don’t actually want to take it away – if I’m giving it to him, that means it’s healthy and tasty – but sometimes toddlers get it into their heads that they want whatever they can’t have. But wait, aren’t we all like that sometimes?
I hope you’ve found these strategies enlightening and I hope they will help you persuade your kids to start drinking green juice! Please leave a comment and let us all know how you got your kids to start drinking green juice. If you’ve used one of these strategies, do let us know if it worked and why!