Have You Ever Wondered

. . . are fruit juices and fruit drinks good choices for kids? Actually, that takes a two-part answer.

Fruit juices: You know that kids are urged to eat fruit every day. Fruit juice is one option, but be aware that too much juice can add up to a lot of calories, or crowd out other nourishing foods and beverages such as milk, and can spoil appetites. An excessive amount also can lead to diarrhea and intestinal discomfort. Sipping a lot of juice even promotes tooth decay. For children and teens, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises:

  • ages 1 to 6 years: ]/2to 3/4 cup (4 to 6 ounces) of fruit juice daily, maximum
  • ages 7 to 18 years: ] to ] ]/2 cup (8 to 12 ounces) of fruit juice daily, maximum

For food safety sake, avoid unpasteurized juice.

Fruit drinks: They have some juice and perhaps added vitamin C or calcium, but offer fewer nutrients than ]00% fruit juice or milk. Read the Nutrition Facts and ingredient list to compare. See "Juicy Story: Fruit Juice, Juice Drink, Fruit Drink... or Just Plain Water?" in chapter 8.

... about iron poisoning-how does it happen? Iron poisoning from adult iron capsules or tablets-or from vitamin pills with iron-occurs when children accidentally swallow them. This can happen, too, if iron tablets meant for children aren't taken as directed, but instead at a higher dosage in a short period. If your doctor prescribes extra iron for your child, give it only as directed.

Iron poisoning can cause serious injury, even death. Call your doctor or a poison control center immediately if your child accidentally swallows a supplement with iron. Keep all pills in child-safe containers where your child can't reach them. Note: A healthful diet with iron-fortified foods won't cause iron poisoning!

  • Is food that's left on a child's plate discarded properly?
  • Do children each have their own dish, cup, and utensils, rather than share?
  • Does an adult eat with the children, serving as a good role model? Can you volunteer from time to time?
  • Are menus posted, or are they sent home with the children?
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