For years juice has been acceptable for babies and toddlers. Doctors have even recommended it at times. However, with new research, the AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, has updated the thoughts and recommendations of these drinks.
When it comes to babies and toddlers, juice might not be the best option. High sugar levels and an overall lack of nutrition have made these once-popular drinks less than ideal. The AAP has set new guidelines to help your little one excel in their early years, rather than sugar crashed.
At what age can babies start drinking juice
This is the big question. When can you start letting your baby drink juice? When is it safe, and what kind is the best for them?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that you wait until after your baby turns one year old. However, it is safe to offer juice after six months, and that usually is only when a doctor recommends it as a treatment for constipation.
“The AAP policy on fruit juice in infants, children and adolescents provides an overview of evidence, which supports that fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits to infants and no increased benefit compared to consumption of whole fruit for children and adolescents,” said Dr. Muth, a pediatrician and registered dietitian at Children’s Primary Care Medical Group in Carlsbad, Calif.
Outside of the lack of nutrition, some studies have found that adding too much juice too early in your child’s development can lead to obesity and premature tooth decay.
Apple Juice for Babies and Infants
While previous doctors would suggest apple juice as the perfect first drink for babies, early introduction to sugar turned out to be a wrong suggestion. Fruit drinks, even apple juice, and one hundred percent juice drinks have become the target of being an “alternative fact.”
While fruits are considered a part of every diet, their juice has little nutritional value. The pulp is where the nutrients are and when juice is mass-produced, what is left is nothing more than sugar water. That applies to all juice, even orange and prune.
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What types of juice can babies have?
Okay, you’ve waited until your baby was a year old, now you are ready to start drinking juice. It can be difficult to pick out the best options. Of course, you don’t want just empty calories, but it also needs to be something your baby will like and add variety from the typical formula or breast milk.
Rather than just buy a bottle of juice, it would be much better for your little one to make your own. It doesn’t take much, just a blender, fruits, and vegetables. You can easily add water, a tiny bit of bottled juice, or even milk to thin it out.
By blending your own mixtures of fruits and vegetables, your baby will benefit from the nutrition while still getting a little taste of sweet. Adding water between feedings is another excellent way to reduce sugar while adding juice to your baby’s diet.
Remember, when you’re first introducing juice to your baby, there may be some loose stools as juice is a common way doctors recommend relieving little ones of constipation.
Related: Toddler not pooping? Here’s what to do.
What can my baby drink instead of juice?
Within the first six months of your baby's life, they should only be drinking breast milk or formula. This is necessary for them to get the proper nutrition for their little growing bodies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep your little one only on formula or breast milk for the entire first year of life.
After that first birthday, though, the world of drinks opens up. Non-caffeinated drinks should be your go do. After you wean, watered-down juice or teas are great choices. Mint or chamomile are naturally sweet and adds variety.
Some other fun things you can offer your little one instead of juice:
- Coconut water
- Water with berries or cucumber
- Lemon and orange slices in water
- Watermelon and mint with water
- Chocolate milk
Just be sure to offer these alternatives in moderation. They will still have higher amounts of sugar naturally occurring, but it can add up over time.
How much juice should my toddler and big kid drink per day?
After your little one hits the one-year mark, adding juice is fine, we recommend making sure that when you add juice, it is 100% juice, and utilize it as a treat. As per the AAP daily recommendations, you should be limiting how much of these sweet drinks your little one is consuming.
- For children one-year-old up until the age of three, they shouldn’t be drinking more than four ounces of juice per day.
- Children ages four to six years old can have between four and six ounces of juice per day.
- Those children that are seven years and older need to stick to drinking no more than eight ounces of juice in a single day.
If your little one seems to be stuck on drinking juice, there are some options. You can easily mix the juice with water or a non-caffeinated herbal tea to stretch their four ounces a little farther. Finding a smaller cup with their favorite characters on it can also help them understand their juice limits.
Now that you know when to give your baby juice, you can help better plan their healthy growth. While we talk a lot about sweeteners and sugar, don’t forget that they do still need whole foods in their diet.
Whole fruit is a great way to add fiber to their diet with naturally occurring sugar. Fresh whole fruits (and vegetables) offer a variety of vitamins and minerals that your little one needs to grow up healthy. Even if they aren’t on solid food just yet, introducing these flavors early in their life make it easier for you to transition them later.
Related: Toddlers and Veggies: 20 Tips to get them to eat their veggies
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