Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit to babies under age 1 and should not be part of their diet.
This is the bold new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), marking the group’s first recommendation change on fruit juice since 2001.
No To Fruit Juice For Babies Less Than 1 Year Old
In the past years, the AAP advised that kids younger than 6 months should not consume any fruit juice and suggested the same for older babies and children. Now, it expanded the timeframe to include those in the entire first year of life.
“Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories,” said Dr. Melvin B. Heyman, co-author of the AAP statement. “Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1.”
According to the new recommendations, 100 percent fresh or reconstituted fruit juice can still be a healthy component of the diet of kids older than age 1 when taken as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, fresh fruit is deemed healthier for older kids since it has less sugar and more fiber than juice form.
AAP recommends limiting juice intake to 4 ounces every day for kids ages 1 to 3, and 6 oz. for children ages 4 to 6. Persons who are ages 7 to 18 are advised to limit their juice intake to 1 cup of the suggested 2 to 2.5 cups of fruit servings daily.
Parents, though, should avoid giving toddlers juice in “sippy cups” or bottles in order to avoid children’s teeth’s exposure to the sugars present in juice. This can lead to tooth decay, the group warned.
AAP also strongly cautioned against ingesting unpasteurized juice products and grapefruit juice among children taking specific medications. Juice isn’t really necessary for kids of any age, and babies should be administered only breast milk or infant formula, the group added.
At present, the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans does not offer advice on fruit juice consumption in young children. It also remains unclear whether the next guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which compiles the guidelines, will forbid juice for babies. In some federal assistance programs, too, juice for the very young ones is already restricted
Dr. Elsie M. Taveras of Boston’s MassGeneral Hospital for Children, who was not involved in the report, lauded the new recommendations and dubbed them “fantastic.”
“Parents feel their infants need fruit juices, but that’s a misconception,” Taveras said, also fearing that juice can be a gateway drink and predispose children to more soda and sugar-laden beverages.
Lead author Dr. Steven Abrams, for instance, clarified that whole fruit offers “less of a pure sugar intake,” and fruit juice isn’t its equal. Kids should be taught to consume fresh foods, he stressed.
The AAP statement was published in the journal Pediatrics.