American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is advising parents cut back drastically on fruit juices of all kinds for children of all ages. The new report is written by Drs. Melvin B. Heyman and Steven A. Abrams. It breaks down by age how much juice your child should be getting.
It’s the first update to the group’s guidelines on fruit juice for kids in 16 years. One of the biggest changes is the recommendation that parents should avoid giving fruit juice at all during a baby’s first year of life. Previous recommendations said fruit juice was OK after six months. Babies need only breast milk or formula. Juice offers no “nutritional benefit” in the first year of life, and for toddlers and older children, juice does nothing that whole fruit can’t do better, the report said. Juice “has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children,” the doctors concluded, after offering a litany of ways in which fruit juice can actually be bad for children.
0-1 YEAR OLD
Breast milk or formula should be the only nutrient fed to infants until about 6 months of age, according to the new guidelines.
“There is no nutritional indication to give fruit juice to infants younger than 6 months,” the authors write, noting that if a baby fills up on juice it could sideline other important nutrients they need for healthy growth, including the protein, fat, calcium and iron that come in breast milk and formula. They also warn that drinking too much juice early in life can stunt a child’s growth.
After 6 months, parents can introduce fruit. It is best to offer infants that are ready for solid foods whole fruits that have been mashed or pureed not juice.
1-4 YEARS OLD
Children ages 1 to 4 need one cup of fruit a day, and up to 4 ounces of that can come from 100 percent fruit juice, the recommendations say. When you do serve juice, stick with 100 percent fruit juices. (If the label calls it a fruit “drink,” “beverage” or “cocktail,” that’s a sign it is not 100 percent juice.) Many beverages look like fruit juice and say they have vitamins, but they can also be packed with sugar and other ingredients that do not have nutritional value. The AAP also says juices should be pasteurized to reduce the risk of illness from contaminants like E. coli or salmonella. The doctors also recommend getting rid of the sippy cups. Toddlers that walk around with cups of juice all day are more likely to have tooth decay. Too much juice consumption can also result in failure to thrive or obesity.
4-6 YEARS OLD
For younger school-age kids, fruit juice shouldn’t exceed 4 to 6 ounces a day.
“Fruit juice and fruit drinks are easily overconsumed by toddlers and young children because they taste good,” the authors write. But “like soda, it can contribute to energy imbalance.” Instead, they encourage parents to give young children whole fruit instead of juice. Make fruit easy and accessible for children to reach. Put the bananas out on the counter and applesauce readily available after school.
7-18 YEARS OLD
Older children and teens should get 2 to 2 ½ cups of fruit servings per day and limit fruit juice to only one of those servings. But they can have 8 ounces (1 cup) of juice. Not much more than a younger child. Children taking certain types of medications should not be given grapefruit juice, the study authors noted. Parents who are concerned should consult with their pediatrician.
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