Can fizzy drinks ever be ethical & other kids drinks dilemmas

What to offer my children to drink has always been a source of anxiety for me. And I’m not even talking alcohol here; that’s a subject for another day.

I remember when my first son was tiny. I was determined to do everything right and be the best mum in the world. I used to give him fennel juice to drink because that was what the Health Visitor told me to do. My baby boy would spit it out and scream the house down. He so often screamed the house down over so many different things that I soon gave up on being the best mum in the world. (I can still remember my reply when the Doctor asked if I was depressed – “Anyone would be depressed if they lived with this baby!”). I switched to heavily diluted sugar free squash and haven’t looked back since.

Actually, that’s not true. When my youngest daughter had her first trip to the dentist, I was told she must be drinking too much juice and that was why her teeth were eroding into sharp points (and I thought she was just related to a terrier). We tried hard to break her addiction for a while. She made herself ill by not drinking enough when water was all that was on offer. We relented a little and hoped for the best for her adult teeth.

Anyway, the reason for all these confessions of a rubbish mum is to show the dilemma that I have lived with for many long years. Just what is it OK to offer your kids to drink? How hard is it to just offer water when there are so many more tasty and colourful options out there to choose from? I have had friends who have thought they were doing the right thing by only giving their children pure fruit juice only for their kids’ teeth to be rotted away by the high acid content. Some people believe diet drinks are full of too many chemicals; others believe that the chemicals are preferable to the high sugar load of normal fizzy drinks. Some avoid caffeine; others avoid aspartame. What a minefield!

As for water, the options there are endless too. Is tap water really filled with unwanted unknown chemicals? Is bottled water an extravagance both financially and environmentally? Is flavoured water any good for you at all? What about fizzy water? What about filtered?

We have recently acquired a terracotta water cooler and filter. The water is filtered and purified through a ceramic filter. The terracotta container keeps the water 10 to 15 degrees lower than the external temperature. There is no plumbing or electrical supply required. The only problem is that the water has an acquired taste, which most of the family have yet to acquire. The little tap is a novelty that entices the younger members of the family to help themselves, fortunately with as yet no disastrous consequences (one day, the tap will be left on, I’m sure of it). On top of that, it looks cool and draws the attention of visitors to the house – great publicity for a great product. So water is being introduced as the new wonder drink to my very sceptical family. (it looks like nothing, tastes like nothing – how can the effect be anything other than nothing?)

Other drinks are good on occasions. Ubuntu cola uses fair trade sugar from Malawi, a country with a special place in our hearts. Fruit Passion goes down well (too well). Other organic squashes and fruit juices have been tried with varying responses.

Maybe I should just be brutal (cruel to be kind) and offer nothing but water for a few weeks, until the habit has been broken. Unfortunately, I am just seen as the mum who wants to spoil everyone’s fun. Cool water only becomes cool when the teacher keeps suggesting it to the class. Fizzy drinks are only seen for what they are when the dentist armed with drill tells my son that they are causing the holes in his teeth. Water only becomes the drink of choice when my husband and I become good role models.

Please share your suggestions with me as to how to encourage healthy drinking in my family. My children might listen to you.

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