Is it Child Abuse to Give Your Toddler Soda?

Yesterday, Gawker shared a video from YouTube of a tot named Noah drinking root beer for the first time. Noah clearly loved the sugary drink, but many viewers weren’t charmed one bit. Here’s a sample of comments, cherry-picked by Gawker’s Neetzan Zimmerman:

“ONWARD TO OBESITY!!!!” “It’s like instant autism.” “Every time I see a parent feeding their kids soda I want to punch them in the face.”Some viewers even called Noah’s parents child abusers for letting him have the soda.

Although I think that it’s absolutely absurd to let your toddler drink soda, I don’t think what we’re seeing in this video is abuse. Noah seems to be a happy kid taking a few swigs of root beer from a straw. It appears to be the first time he’s ever tried it, and his reaction is pretty cute. C’mon, it’s soda, not bleach.

But I think that giving your kid soda can be abusive in certain contexts. If, for example, you’re giving your tot only soda to drink, along with a high-cal, fat-filled diet, I believe you’re committing child abuse. Your deliberately endangering your child’s health.

The childhood obesity epidemic is one reason that kids shouldn’t be drinking soda. (Adults shouldn’t be either, but I cheat from time to time, when Mason isn’t around.) We’re also seeing studies about how toxic sugar may be to our bodies. And parents need to be teaching their kids how to make healthful food choices at home, not introducing them to bad habits. Parents should model good eating habits too.

My bottom line: If your tot is thirsty, pour him a glass of milk or water. If he says he wants a drink with bubbles, give him sparkling water. There’s just no need to encourage him to drink soda, or to even make drinking it an option.

What do you think of this video? Do you let your tot drink soda?

Photo: Can of soda via Oleksiy Mark/

Apple-Beef Puree & a Third

Our last few food adventures were a success — but I’m not so sure about this one. For starters, pureed beef is plain gross. Chicken smells (and looks) icky but beef has the unfortunate luck of being brown. Pureed, it looks like your babe’s diaper on a very, very bad day. Sorry to be yuck about it but you all know exactly what I’m talking about. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

If you can get over that bad scene, however, then it does get better. I promise.

Once I mixed the iron-rich beef with apple puree, I tasted it. I’ll admit it, this was the first time that I really didn’t want to taste a puree — I still wasn’t over the sight of the pureed beef alone and the smell wasn’t helping — but it was actually pretty decent. To make it good, I’ll add a third more flavorful veggie or fruit, perhaps sweet potatoes, carrots, or plums, before I feed it to Mason because the pureed apple doesn’t stand up to the beef as well as I had hoped it would.

Will Mason go for it? I’m not sure. I think there’s a pretty good chance but I’m not as confident about it as I was the Cinnamon-Raisin Oatmeal or the Roasted Butternut Squash Puree (both instant successes).

Regardless of whether Mason gobbles it up or spits it out, this adventure was worth it. I learned something new and that exciting process of discovery is partly why I enjoy cooking for my babe so much. Next time I make this recipe — and yes, there will be a next time — I’ll get it just right. You see, I’ll have learned even more after Mason’s first taste.

Update: Yesterday, Mason tried the beef with carrots but didn’t like it. Today, I mixed one ounce of beef with two ounces of apple and he loved it!

Apple-Beef Puree Plus a Third


1/2 pound ground organic beef
3 organic Gala apples
3 sweet potatoes, plums, or 6 ounces of carrot puree (optional)


1. Bring a pot of water to boiling then reduce the heat until the bubbles are soft. Add ground beef and cook until all the pinkness is gone (about 20 minutes).

2. Drain the beef and cool so that all the fat rises to the top. Skim off the fat. Set aside.

3. Wash, peel, and dice the apple. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Reserve some of the cooking liquid. Puree until smooth in a food processor.

4. Combine the apple and beef and puree once more, adding water until you reach a pretty smooth consistency.