You may have heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics published new “recommendations” in regards to juice consumption in children. I put the word recommendations in quotes mainly because, as a pediatrician, I RARELY recommend or encourage a parent to give juice to their child (some types of juice can do wonders for short term issues with constipation). Now, I have nothing against the juice industry! However, I am all about helping parents understand ways to keep their kiddos healthy and growing, and in my mind, fruit juice does not have a place in the daily diet of children.
But let’s get back to those new “recommendations” for just a second. Children under 1 year of age should not be given juice unless instructed to do so by your child’s pediatrician. For children 1-3 years of age, up to 4 oz of juice can be offered while 6oz can be offered to those 4-6 years of age. And finally, for children 7 and older, up to 8oz of juice per day can be offered. Let’s put those amounts in perspective…a regular Capri Sun pouch is 6oz. Your typical fruit juice box is 6-8oz, and those fruit juice bottles sold near the checkout counter at your local grocery store come in at almost 16oz. So you can see that none of these options are “appropriate” for the recommended juice amount for toddlers.
Juices really do not add anything nutritionally for kiddos, especially if your child is eating fruits. Fruit juices do not give more vitamins than eating “real” fruits and in fact, the bottled version of your favorite fruit likely has many more calories and sugar and lacks the fiber that the “real deal” provides. If you choose to offer fruit juices to your child, make sure that the juice is 100% fruit juice and has no added sugar. It may surprise some parents to know that some juices have as much sugar as a large Snickers bar! Another big problem with juice, especially when children carry a sippy cup of juice or a juice box around all day long? This is a constant sugar bath for the teeth which can greatly increase the rate of tooth decay and cavities.
I had the opportunity to stop by WBRZ 4 o’clock newscast this past week to discuss this topic with Brittany Weiss as well as several recommendations to alternatives for those sugary juice drinks that are rather tasty and kid approved!