Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1308–1315 | Cite as

Understanding How Latino Parents Choose Beverages to Serve to Infants and Toddlers

  • Amy L. BeckEmail author
  • John I. Takayama
  • Bonnie Halpern-Felsher
  • Nora Badiner
  • Judith C. Barker


To determine Latino parents’ beliefs on the health effects of beverages on infants and toddlers, their sources of information on beverages and perceived barriers to following guidelines for healthy beverage consumption by children. We conducted 29 interviews with parents of Latino children ages 6–36 months. Parents were recruited in three community health centers in Northern California. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed using standard qualitative methods. The following dominant themes emerged. Parents believed that water and milk were healthy beverages for children and that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) were unhealthy. Views on 100 % fruit juice were mixed. Parents distinguished between homemade beverages such as “agua fresca” which they considered healthy, despite containing added sugar, and beverages from stores which were viewed as unhealthy. Participants’ main source of information on beverages was the federal nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Parents were confused, however, as to why WIC provides juice yet counseled parents to avoid giving their children juice. Parents preferred to receive information on beverages from experts. Differing practices among family members regarding which beverages they provide to children was the most important barrier to following beverage guidelines. Our study suggests that Latino parents are receptive to counseling on beverages from expert sources. Such counseling should address both store-bought and homemade beverages. The WIC program is a key source of information on beverages for Latino parents; thus counseling offered by WIC should be evidence-based and avoid mixed messages.


Childhood obesity Dental caries Health disparities Sugar-sweetened beverages 100 % fruit juice 



This study was funded by a grant from the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States. We would like to thank the participating clinics and all study participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy L. Beck
    • 1
    Email author
  • John I. Takayama
    • 1
  • Bonnie Halpern-Felsher
    • 1
  • Nora Badiner
    • 2
  • Judith C. Barker
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.University of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine and Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental SciencesUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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