Hold off on giving young children fruit juice, pediatricians say

By Greg Hamilton • Published: August 10th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Pediatricians have long told parents it’s fine to give infants and young children fruit juice as they expand their diets to include solid foods. But the American Academy of Pediatrics has flipped that view on its lid, and now recommends that parents don’t give children fruit juice until after they celebrate their first birthday.

The pediatricians’ group recently issued new guidelines that say fruit juices offer no nutritional benefit to children that young and, instead, introduce excess sugar and calories, which can lead to dental and weight problems. The physicians previously had recommended against giving juice to children under 6 months old.

Pediatricians say human milk should be the only nutrient fed to infants until 6 months of age. For mothers who cannot breastfeed or who choose not to do so, a prepared infant formula can serve as a complete source of nutrition. Giving a child juice before solid foods are added to her diet can mean she gets less milk or formula, which can result in reduced intakes of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. This puts youngsters at risk for malnutrition.

The doctors did say that 100 percent fresh or reconstituted fruit juice can be a healthy part of a diet for kids after one year when used as part of a well-balanced diet. The pediatricians added that juice, when given, should be in a cup. Letting toddlers carry and sip from a bottle or a covered cup or juice box all day can lead to tooth decay.

So, what’s a parent to do in place of introducing fruit juice to their little ones? Simple. Introduce them to whole fruits and start a lifelong, healthy habit.