All posts by CHOC Children's

Fruit Juice is “Liquid Candy”

It sounds healthier than soda, but “100% fruit juice” may actually contain far more sugar than you bargained for. A study released last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children are getting too many calories though “liquid candy” such as sodas — and fruit juice.
Pediatric experts are recommending no more than eight to 12 ounces of juice per day for children ages 7 to 18. Younger children should consume no more than four to six ounces a day.
“Excess sugar is not healthy for children,” says CHOC Certified Diabetes Educator Jill Nowak, R.D. “Sweetened beverages are one of the contributing factors to the obesity epidemic in children. Obesity puts them at risk for multiple health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, sleep apnea and orthopaedic problems.”
Nowak says that artificially sweetened sodas and beverages are okay in moderation. Still, she advocates healthier choices, such as milk.

Here are some additional tips:

Make Every Calorie Count
Read Nutrition Labels
• Does your child’s juice contain added sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup?
• How many ounces are in a recommended serving?
• Does one serving fulfill your child’s daily requirement of vitamin C? Not every fruit drink does.
Serve Whole Fruits Instead
• Whole fruit contains the fiber and healthful benefits that juice leaves behind.
• Eating a whole piece of fruit will leave your child feeling less hungry.
Get Milk
• Milk contains calcium for your child’s growing bones.
• Soy milk is an acceptable substitute for cow’s milk.
Can The Soda
• Soda contains phosphoric acid, which leaches calcium from bones and puts your child at risk for osteoporosis.
• Just one 12-ounce soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories, far exceeding your child’s recommended daily limit.

Read Talan’s Story

Born at 25 weeks, weighing only 1 pound, 14 ounces, baby Talan was admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at CHOC Children’s.  A few weeks later his mother, Mari, learned that he had necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a gastrointestinal disease common in some premature babies. Mari soon learned that faith and trust in CHOC’s NICU team would make all the difference in their journey home…

Read their story and the many other remarkable stories that happen at CHOC every day:

For more information about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at CHOC, please click  here:

Rainy Day Activities for Kids

When the rain outside keeps the kids inside, parents’ patience can certainly be tested by bored children!  Try these activities to keep your kids entertained while “waiting out” cold, stormy weather.

• Play music and encourage your kids to exert their energy by dancing.  Let children take turns picking out the songs and leading the dance moves.
• Guide little adventurers on a treasure hunt around the house!  Hide a few items, draw a map and/or provide some clues, and see who wins.
• Engage in story telling.  Let your kids be the voices of the characters or act out the scenes, so they are active participants.
• Get crafty.  A paper bag and some crayons are all you need for a puppet – one that your child can use during story telling.
• Play “Simon Says” – but get Simon and the rest of his followers moving!
• Lights, Camera, Action.  Your kids could have a great time putting on a talent show or skit for you.  Make sure you bring out the video camera for this one!

A rainy day doesn’t have to lead to bored couch potatoes!  Hopefully these ideas will help bring a little “sunshine” to your day!

Set The Table For Better Eating Habits

With healthier choices as a new year’s resolution for many families, CHOC Children’s pediatrician Mark Colon, M.D., explains one of the best ways to help your children develop healthy eating habits is to simply eat dinner together as a family. Studies have shown that children whose families regularly eat dinner together are less likely to suffer from eating disorders.

The studies showed benefits even when families sat down for dinner just a few nights a week. Dr. Colon recommends that parents take advantage of the nightly opportunity to model healthy nutritional habits.

“Dinnertime gives parents the opportunity to start teaching healthy eating habits from day one. Also, family meals allow more face-to-face time, which can lead to improved communication and family relationships,” he says. “Including a young child at the dinner table is an excellent way to introduce fruit, vegetables, salads and meats.”

As the father of two young children, he offers these tried-and-true tips: 

 “I’m Hungry!” — Serve an appetizer if your child cannot wait until dinnertime. Try a small serving of a fruit or vegetable.

“Ewww, Yuck” — Speaking of fruits and vegetables, Dr. Colon says it may take multiple tries before a child cultivates a taste for certain foods. So keep trying! Dr. Colon advises teaching your child to say, “I do not care for this food,” instead of the word “dislike.” He says “dislike” implies permanence.

“What’s For Dessert?” — The purpose of the meal is to sit together and enjoy all of the food. Some children plow through the main course to get to the dessert. Dr. Colon advises taking a break between dinner and dessert. Wash the dishes or play with your children a little. Serve dessert later. Dessert should not be used as a reward at the end of the meal. Make it a treat, not a habit!

Dawdle Over Dinner

Turn off the television and let phone calls go to the answering machine. Break out the tablecloth, dim the lights and play some soft music. This is your family’s special time to catch up with each other. Get the conversation going by asking open-ended questions about your children’s day. Keep the table talk light and fun.

“The dinner table is not the place to lecture or discipline,” Dr. Colon says. “Instead, focus on the positives. Compliment children for exhibiting good behaviors.”

For more “healthful” tips from the experts at CHOC Children’s, check out the latest edition of Kids Health magazine at or click here:

Give Eating Right a Green Light

Having trouble getting your kids to eat right?  If kids see their parents eating healthy foods, then they are more likely to indulge in fruits and vegetables too. The key is to focus on nutrient-rich foods and avoid empty calories. 

Many dietitians favor splitting foods into green light, yellow light and red light groups. Try putting green light foods within kids’ easy reach.

Green light foods: High-nutrition, low-fat, low- or moderate-calorie foods kids can eat often: celery, carrots, broccoli, apples, low-fat yogurt, multigrain pretzels.

Yellow light foods: Nutritious but higher-fat or calorie foods that must be eaten in moderation: meats, enriched breads and pasta, full-fat cheese.

Red light foods: Foods with no nutritional value, like cookies and candy, that you should save for special treats.

Other tips:

  • Trust that when kids are hungry enough, they’ll eat the healthy options you serve.
  • Don’t use sweets to reward or punish kids.
  • Set a good example for kids by eating well.
  • Encourage kids to eat at normal meal times.
  • Develop a “try it” rule for new foods.

For more “healthful” tips from the experts at CHOC Children’s, check out the latest edition of Kids Health magazine at or click here: