Not all fruit juice is created equal. In terms of sugar and calories, store-bought juice is actually quite similar to soda. For that reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have released new recommendations on how much fruit juice children should consume.
Babies from birth to age 1
The old guidelines advised parents to avoid giving fruit juice to infants until 6 months of age. Now, it’s been extended to 12 months of age.
“It is optimal to completely avoid the use of juice in infants before 1 year of age,” the AAP writes in their new juice recommendations.
However, after 6 months, if parents choose to, they can introduce fruits to their toddlers as long as they do so in solid form. Instead of fruit juice, parents should give either whole fruits that have been mashed or pureed.
Fruit Juice Recommendation For Children of All Ages
- Toddlers ages 1 to 3: 4 ounces/day
- Children ages 4 to 6: 4-6 ounces/day
- Children ages 7 to 18: 8 ounces or 1 cup of the recommended 2 to 2.5 cups of fruit servings per day.
“Four ounces of juice is a half a cup. It’s a very small amount, like a Dixie cup,” Kristi King, a clinical dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital, told CBS News.
Store-bought fruit juice has no fiber and is virtually liquid candy, which means it is not an acceptable substitute for real fruit in a well-rounded diet.
Consumption of fruit juice is linked to unhealthy weight and tooth decay in children. Children who drink fruit juice also tend to develop a sweet tooth for other drink sugar-sweetened beverages such as sports drinks and soda as they grow older.
While the new guidelines are focused on fruit, that doesn’t mean parents should skip out on vegetables. “Fruits and vegetables are not the same. We still want to emphasize the vegetables over the fruit, but still, get those fruits in the diet as well.”