The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a clear stance when it comes to juice: Eat fruit. Don't drink it.
Fruit juice is often advertised as a healthy, natural source of vitamins but it has potentially detrimental effects for infants and children, including obesity, tooth decay and malnutrition. While it can be a source for Vitamin C, potassium and other nutrients, it's often full of carbohydrates and sugar. Well then, what makes whole fruit better? Fiber. Whole fruit contains all the same vitamins and nutrients but also contains fiber which keeps your blood sugar in check, cleans your colon, and reduces cholesterol.
According to the AAP, fruit juice offers NO nutritional advantage over whole fruit. Juice consumption is also a major contributing factor to tooth decay. Toting around a sippy cup of juice—or worse, taking it to bed in a bottle—continuously coats your child's teeth in carbohydrates that can lead to cavities.
Find the latest AAP juice recommendations and risks for your child below.
- The AAP advises parents not to give babies under age 1 any juice unless their doctor recommends it.
- Mothers should breastfeed babies exclusively until 6 months of age. No additional nutrients are needed. For mothers who cannot breastfeed or who choose not to breastfeed, infant formula can be used as a complete source of nutrition. (Donor milk may also be available, in consultation with your child's doctor.)
- There is no nutritional indication to give fruit juice to infants younger than 6 months old.
- Substituting juice for breast milk or infant formula can result in babies missing out on important protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc. These nutrients are essential to your baby's growth and health.
- Excessive juice consumption has been associated with malnutrition and short stature in children.
- When juice is medically indicated for an infant older than 6 months, it is best to serve the juice in a cup to avoid tooth decay (dental caries).
- When babies, 6 months to 1 year, start eating solid foods (often pureed or mashed fruit), continue restricting liquids to breast milk, formula, or occasionally water.
- There is virtually no role for juice during the first year of life. Expensive juice products marketed specifically for use with infants offer little to no nutritional value.
- For children ages 1-3 years, the maximum daily intake of juice should be 4 ounces.
- For children ages 4-6 years, the maximum daily intake of juice should be 4-6 ounces.
- When juice is given, it should be with a snack or meal. Juice should not be given between meals, which would allow the juice to linger on the tooth surface.
- Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits.
- Toddlers should not be given juice from bottles or sippy cups that make it easy to consume throughout the day, nor should they be given juice at bedtime.
- Buy products labeled as “100% juice.” Drinks that are not 100% juice often include “drink,” “beverage” or “cocktail” on the label. They often have added sugar and other ingredients.
- Serve juice that has been pasteurized. Unpasteurized juice can contain germs that put infants and children at risk of getting sick.
- Families of small children with dental caries (tooth decay & cavities) should have a discussion with their pediatrician about the child’s fruit juice intake and its possible contribution to the caries. The AAP recommends a child have their first dental visit by their first birthday, or within six months of their first tooth emerging.