Let’s face it—kids don’t always want to eat their fruits and veggies. Some refuse to eat them completely, even if they previously ate them happily. It can be a struggle to help them meet their daily needs, but it does not have to be. Children need to eat nutrient-dense foods instead of foods that contain high quantities of fat, sugar, and salt. This includes fast food and processed items.
Not only that, but you should introduce them to healthy options like fruits and vegetables when they’re young. The best way to do so is leading by example. If you have a healthy diet, then your children are more likely to follow suit. If you find this has not helped and your fussy little eater still wants nothing to do with the greens on his plate, slowly introduce him to juicing. By supplementing their diet with healthy, fresh juice, you can help deliver the nutrition your child’s growing body needs.
General Guidelines for Juicing
Speak with your pediatrician prior to introducing your child to juice. The age of your child will determine when and the type of juice you can integrate into his diet. Typically, pediatricians advise against adding juice to their diet before six months of age. Some suggest waiting until at least eight months.
Not all juices are created equal. Many store-bought juices contain empty calories and excess sugar that do not provide any real nutrition. Fresh juice is the most wholesome type of juice you can give to your child. It is tasty and nutritious, plus it doesn’t contain added sugars.
There are three basic types of juicers—centrifugal, masticating, and twin gear. A masticating juicer, which is a slow juicer type, is the most ideal to extract a high level of nutrients. Explore the different juicer types to determine which kind will best meet your needs.
Before you give your child juice, check out these tips:
There is an approximate timeline to follow when introducing solids and juice into your child’s diet. Make use of the guidelines provided by your doctor and online, since these will be extremely helpful. In addition to the following tips, speak with your doctor, and pay attention to the cues of your baby until she is old enough to communicate with you.
Less than six months
Babies less than six months of age should not be given any juice at all. During the first six months of their life, breast milk is all babies need. If you are not breastfeeding, then formula is the alternative. The same thing goes for water. Babies do not need water until they begin eating solids.
Six months to one year old
Six months is roughly around the time you introduce solids. Although, some begin as early as four months of age. If you would like to give your baby juice, start with apples or pears. After juicing, pour it through a strainer to remove as much pulp as possible. Pour the juice into a cup—never fill a bottle with juice and give it to a baby. Dilute the juice with filtered water using about a 1:1 ratio. Feel free to dilute the juice with a little more water. A baby’s tummy is sensitive. If you introduce juice that is overly potent, it may upset her stomach.
One to three years old
At this point, you should have slowly introduced a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, along with meat, into your child’s diet. Serve him four to six ounces of juice daily. Continue diluting the juice with water at a 1:1 ratio.
Four to twelve years old
This is about the time that children begin rejecting foods they may have happily eaten on a regular basis. Keep encouraging them to eat healthy options. Also, children have a natural inclination to help out. Get them involved in the process of preparing their food and juice. Continue diluting the juice, adding more juice than water over time. This reduces the chance of an upset stomach and diarrhea. Eventually, as their stomachs adjust, you will not have to dilute the juice.
Twelve years and older
You can serve your children straight juice, but try to limit it to no more than ten ounces a day. Juice should never be served in the place of wholesome fruits and vegetables. It should serve as a supplement to their diet.
Bacteria in Raw Juice
The Food and Drug Administration advises against giving young children and babies unpasteurized juice that you would obtain from juice bars or restaurants serving freshly squeezed juice. The juice may contain bacteria that is harmful to their system—bacteria that rarely impacts healthy adults. The process of pasteurization kills any bacteria that may have made it into the juice.
You can safely make freshly squeezed juice at home. Be certain to thoroughly clean your produce, juicer, and anything that comes into contact with your food. This will remove dirt and bacteria. Cleanliness is an important factor in preventing food-borne illnesses.
Things to Remember
- Choose organic as often as possible.
- Start with one or two ingredients. Kids are not normally as adventurous as adults.
- Make it fun by getting them involved and coming up with creative names for each juice recipe.
- Serve it cold and with fun straws (colors/bendy).
- Avoid giving your children juice near mealtimes.
- Ginger is powerful and spicy. If you’re going to use it, be mindful not to add too much.
- Add leafy greens and veggies slowly to fruit juice.
- Offer whole fruits and vegetables to your child. It is important to start them on a healthy diet early.
- Never do a juice fast with kids. Feasting is the way to go.
- Mix it up and give them a variety of juices throughout the week.
- If you are concerned about fiber, once he is a little older, blend up some of the pulp into a smoothie. You can also use the leftover pulp in recipes such as Popsicle, bread, soups, and much more.
In addition to a well-balanced diet, freshly extracted juice is highly nutritious for the entire family. It boosts your immune system, energy levels, and delivers a healthy dose of antioxidants. Take advantage of its health benefits by experimenting with different recipes. There are countless combinations, but here are a few to get you started:
Apple: Use a combo of green and gala (red or yellow work fine too) apples. Four apples will yield about 1 cup.
Apple-veggie: Juice 1 green apple, 2 stalks of celery, and ½ cup of spinach. Throw in a carrot if it doesn’t make quite 1 cup of juice.
Apple-carrot-celery: Juice 1 apple, 3 stalks of celery, and 3 carrots.
Orange: About 2 to 3 oranges will produce 1 cup of juice.
Orange-carrot: Juice 1 to 2 oranges with 2 carrots.
Orange-lemon: Juice 2 oranges with ½ a lemon.
Carrot: Juice about 3 to 4 carrots – depending on the size of the carrots.
Watermelon mix: Combine 1 cup of watermelon with a ½ cup of spinach and ½ a lemon to produce about a cup of juice.
Cucumber-watermelon mix: This consists of ½ a cucumber, 1 cup of watermelon, and ½ a lemon.
Pineapple: A little more than a ¼ of a pineapple will yield about 1 cup of juice.
Pear combo: About 2 Bartlett pears and ½ a cup of spinach/kale with ¼ a lemon will yield about 1 cup.
These are mainly fruit based to get you used to the process of juicing. Feel free to toss in some greens, like spinach or kale, into any of the above recipes. The fruit will balance the potent taste of the greens, while adding additional nutrients.