Pediatricians urge parents to avoid giving kids fruit juice

Fruit juice might taste good, but it isn’t the best beverage choice for kids or babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently changed its recommendations when it comes to juice consumption and instructs parents to hold off on giving juice to any child under the age of one. The recommendation previously was to avoid juice for babies under six months.

The AAP reports that 100 percent fruit juice has minimal nutritional benefits. Consumption is associated with an increased risk of tooth decay, malnutrition and weight gain.

“The fructose in fruit juice is not any different than any other kind of sugar; it is going to increase rates of tooth decay,” said Dr. John LaCount, a pediatrician with St. Elizabeth Physicians’ Florence office.

In addition to the change in recommendations for infants, the AAP also has updated the recommendations for older children. For children between the ages of one and three, limit juice to four ounces per day. For children ages three to six, limit juice to four to six ounces per day. Older kids should have no more than 8 ounces.

Fruit juice has too many calories that are not well balanced, LaCount said. He would much prefer his patients get their vitamin C from fruit instead of juice.

“If young kids consume juice, it is sweet so they want more and more and they take the bottle that has juice in it preferentially over anything else. We try to tell families not to let kids utilize that,” LaCount said.

 

On the topic of fruit juice, the AAP also recommends that parents:

  • Encourage children to eat whole fruits for the fiber benefit, instead of drinking juice
  • Avoid unpasteurized juice, which may cause illness
  • Avoid allowing a child to have a sippy cup of juice to sip from throughout the day, which can harm their teeth
  • Stick with human milk or formula for infants; and low-fat/nonfat milk and water for older children
  • Learn the difference between 100 percent fruit juice and juice beverages, which contain little juice and more added sugar