How much juice? None if under age 1!
Why would your child need a glass of juice? The short answer that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) gives is almost never. While a juice box of 100% juice for an older child isn’t the worst thing to have, it certainly isn’t the best choice. The AAP recommends even stricter guidelines for juice in a child’s diet. The new pediatric recommendations for juice is NEVER before the age of one and very limited intake through the age of 18!
Fruits are an essential part of a child’s healthy diet, but juice is not. Even 100% juice! Juice has very little nutritional benefit, it is basically water and natural sugar. It is high in calories and low in nutritional benefit. A piece of fruit is eaten slower, has healthy fiber, and is more filling. Often we forget to count the calories of a drink, and a child can “fill up” with those quick calories and then decrease the amount of healthy food that is eaten. This may increase the risk of unhealthy weight gain.
If 100% juice is not the best choice for children, then fruit drinks are even worse! To be labeled fruit juice, it must be 100% juice. Any other drink or “juice box” that is not labeled 100% juice really is no better than soda. Many labels try to “fool” parents by stating it contains 100% juice! If it is not 100% juice it really is a sugar sweetened drink with high calories and no nutrition.
So what should our children be drinking?
- Breast milk or formula for the first full year of life. No juice, period. Small amounts of water can be introduced in a cup when solid foods are started.
- Children age 1 to 6 should consume no more than 4 ounces of juice a day in a cup with a snack or meal. Toddlers should not carry a sippy cup around with juice as it can result in dental decay. Fruit should be encouraged rather than juice. Water and milk only are adequate for fluid intake for toddlers and young children.
- Children age 7 to 12 can consume up to 8 ounces of juice a day, but fruit should be encouraged over juice. Water and milk are adequate for fluid intake for older children. Sports drinks usually are not necessary for most activities, they are high in sugar and calories.
What does this mean?
- Juice has no nutritional benefit for children younger than 1.
- Fruit is always a better choice than 100% fruit juice.
- Fruit drinks that are not 100% juice are no healthier than soda.
- Juice is not a good fluid choice for rehydration for a child who is dehydrated or has vomiting and diarrhea.
- Drinking too much juice may increase the risk of obesity in children and may decrease the amount of healthy food a child eats.
- Children over the age of 1 can drink 100% juice as part of a balanced diet that also includes whole fruits if they stay within the recommended amounts by the AAP.
So don’t introduce juice to your infant and offer it sparingly to your older children. Remind your children that low-fat milk and water are always the best choice. “Take back the snack” and encourage “snack parents” to provide water for young athletes after practices and the games. Control your refrigerator and cupboards, make fruit available and low-fat milk and water more available than juice. Make it easy for you and your child, steer clear of the “juice box aisle” at the store!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
- Posted in: Dental health ♦ Growth and Development ♦ Health ♦ Nutrition ♦ Uncategorized
- Tagged: AAP guidelines on juice consumption, healthy eating, how much juice for children, infant, introducing solid foods, juice, nutrition, preschooler, school age, teen years, toddler, toddler foods, toddler snacks