Fruit juice: New guidelines

Fruit juice is a popular drink among kids, and parents love them since they provide hydration and fruit servings (especially for picky eaters who reject whole fruits). But even though juice is natural and made from fruits, is it a drink that should be given freely without limits?

Fruit juice was allowed for consumption in moderation starting from 6 months of age on, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has just recently published a change in recommendations, suggesting new guidelines for juice consumption starting until after a year of age.

Juice consumption is notorious for filling children’s bellies and therefore replacing other solid foods or breastmilk/formula which babies need most. Although 100% fruit juice with no added sugar provides nutrients, it’s very high in sugar and low in fiber, putting children at risk for high-calorie consumption and tooth decay.

Whole fruit is always superior to juice, and if kids consume fruit, there is no need for fruit juice in their diets. Before age one, 100% fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit for babies. Once children turn one they can consume some juice to complement a balanced diet but it should be limited according to their age. If you want to feed your baby fruit juice make sure to follow the recommendations below.

AAP juice consumption guidelines:

  • Babies age 0-12 months: no fruit juice
  • Toddlers age 1-3: No more than 4 ounces of juice per day
  • Children age 4-6: Maximum 6 ounces of juice per day
  • Children age 7-18: Juice should be restricted to 8 ounces (1 small cup) per day

 Other recommendations stated by the AAP include:

  • Offering and encouraging your little one to consume whole fruits or veggies daily. (If your child sees you eat fruit she’ll be more likely to consume it too!)
  • Don’t place it in a sippy cup to be consumed all throughout the day as the constant exposure to sugar can lead to tooth decay.
  • No fruit juice during bedtime, this also can contribute to the appearance of cavities.
  • Fruit juice is not necessary for a healthy diet. Breastmilk/formula for infants and cow’s milk of water for children from age one and beyond is sufficient.
  • If serving fruit make sure it has no added sugar.
  • Juice should be pasteurized.
  • Avoid giving grapefruit juice if your child is taking medication, it can reduce its effectiveness.
  • Although fruit juice is commonly used as a home remedy for dehydration, constipation or diarrhea it’s not the appropriate treatment. Instead, contact your pediatrician.

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