Written by Lily Sanderson under the direction and review of Megan Erickson.
Let’ talk juice. Companies market juice as a healthy beverage for children and also a natural source of vitamins. Because it tastes so good, children can easily drink a lot of juice. While juice does provide some of the vitamins a healthy child needs to grow and prosper, it also adds in extra sugar and calories that have a negative effect on their overall wellbeing. According to the recent recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, juice consumption should be limited in children 2 years and older, but completely eliminated for infants under the age 1.
Although juice is advertised as healthy, that is not always the case. With all the extra sugar in fruit juices, it cannot be considered an equal, healthy alternative to fruit. Drinking too much juice can cause excess weight due to the added sugars and lack of fiber. Sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to the rising epidemic of obesity in today’s youth. Aside from gaining unhealthy weight, too much fruit juice can negatively affect dental hygiene. Overconsumption of sugar can greatly increase the child’s risk of developing painful cavities.
Daily recommendations for juice vary with age. Below are the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended maximum amounts of 100% fruit juice for several age groups.
- Under 1: No juice
- Ages 1 to 3: up to ½ cup (4 oz)
- Ages 4 to 6: up to ½ - ¾ cup (4-6 oz)
- Ages 7 to 18: up to 1 cup (8 oz)
Fruit juice, in moderation, is an okay choice for older children. When juices are consumed, select 100% fruit juice, without added sugars. Instead of juice, grab a whole fruit instead! Whole fruits provide fiber and other nutrients.
Tips to Reduce Juice Intake
Dilute the juice with water.
- Most kids will not be able to tell the difference between normal juice or a half juice/half water mixture.
- Pour half the juice into another container and fill the rest with water – kids are smart and may not be very happy if they see you pour water directly into their cup of juice.
- It can be diluted more than half – the more water, the better.
Flavor water with fruits to make it more appealing.
- Sliced whole fruits like lemons, oranges, and other citrus fruits are great additions
- Berries and other juicy fruits are good too
When choosing what beverage to give a child or infant, follow the recommended guidelines. Sugar-sweetened beverages, like fruit juice, in moderation can have some benefits for children and adolescents older than one year of age, but giving them a whole piece of juicy fruit in its place provides a much more nourishing thirst quencher!
Reference: American Academy of Pediatrics. No Fruit Juice For Children Under 1 Year