Putting the Squeeze on Fruit Juice

When it comes to fruit juice, parents may be giving their child too much of a good thing. True, fruit juice is packed with vitamin C and helps keep kids hydrated. But it also contains loads of sugar and little nutritional value – unlike whole fruits, which are particularly high in fiber.

In moderation, fruit juices can be part of a healthy diet. There’s only one problem: many American kids are “juice junkies.”  In fact, children are the single largest group of juice consumers in the United States. That’s too bad, because Kids who drink large amounts of fruit juice often suffer from diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and even flatulence, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Equally unsettling, too much fruit juice can suppress a child’s appetite, causing him to skip healthy meals and snacks. Also, fruit juice consumption can actually cause tooth decay – especially when a child holds a bottle, cup or box of juice in his mouth throughout the day or at bedtime.

What You Can Do

Limit your little one’s juice consumption by following these guidelines from the AAP:

Do not give fruit juice to infants before 6 months of age.

Refrain from giving babies older than 6 months juice in bottles or cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day.  Along with curbing appetites, too much juice can also lead to baby bottle tooth decay.

Never give infants fruit juice at bedtime.

Children ages 1 to 6 should drink no more than four to six ounces of fruit juice daily.

Limit juice consumption to 8-12 ounces for kids aged 7-18 years.

Encourage kids to eat whole fruits, which, unlike fruit juice, are high in fiber. Oranges and other juicy fruits can help make the transition away from juice easier.

Try fruit infused waters. These flavored waters contain little to no sugar, but are full of flavor.

Updated August 2012