Do You Give Your Kid Soda?

Do You Give Your Kid Soda?

Good question. I am one of those people who believes (like Mark Bittman) that soda is the new cigarettes. When a relative told me that he regularly drinks soda I was aghast. Soda is just such…junk. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about it.

But, despite all that I do occasionally let Rosa have soda. When we’re at a nice restaurant she is allowed to order a Shirley Temple. Sometimes on the weekend if Dave and I are having a Campari and soda I offer her a small bottle of an Italian soda she loves.

Why do we let Rosa drink what is basically sugar water? My colleague Natalia Stasenko explained it so well in a recent post on’s blog Scoop on Food. She realized that by denying her kids soda she was inadvertently increasing their thirst for it. When her kids found themselves in a situation where soda was available they completely overdid it. By bringing soda to the table occasionally she hopes to show her kids how soda can fit into a healthy diet in moderation.

Years ago I was at an event where a mom of a three year old proudly told me her son had never had a cookie. While I smiled politely, inside I thought, and still think, that that kid is probably doomed to a sweet tooth the size of Mt. Everest. While our job as parents is absolutely to teach our kids how to eat healthfully, we have to teach them how to eat that way in the real world, a world full of cookies, chips, and soda at every turn. I believe that by denying them these less nutritious foods completely they’re more likely to binge on them when they have the opportunity.

So as moms and dads we have to strike a delicate balance, giving our kids treats and special occasion foods only, well, occasionally (a tall order in our treat-saturated world), but not so rarely that we give these foods a luster they don’t deserve. It is a tough balance, and one that, frankly, I struggle with sometimes. But when it comes to soda, at least, I feel like we’re on the right track.

How do you handle soda and other treats in your family?

Jenna Helwig