So you thought fruit juice was a healthy option for your baby eh? Well, think again. According to a recent study that was conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), fruit juice is a big NO-NO for babies, especially if they are one year old or below. This is because fruit juice has no nutritional value for babies, even its 100% real juice. However, you can give your tot some juice only and only if your doctor recommends.
Ready to drink fruit juices can be an appealing option for busy parents, and you may give it to your children, thinking it will nourish them but the truth is that it won’t. Doctors who were a part of the study said that fruit juice has minimum nutritional content, and in fact, can cause more harm than good. The high sugar content in juices can harm the child’s teeth and lead to cavities, and also weight gain.
Dr. Steven Abrams, co-author of the study as well as chairman of the AAP Committee on Nutrition, says that although juice can provide children with a good dose of certain vitamins such as vitamin C (orange juice) or vitamin D and calcium (fortified juice products), it still lacks in essential nutrients such as protein and fiber, which are necessary for the child’s healthy and steady growth.
Ideally, according to the AAP, a baby between the ages of 0 and 6 months should not be fed anything other than breast milk. If that’s not possible due to certain circumstances, parents should turn to formula milk instead. Both formula milk and breast milk are quite nutritious and are enough to fulfill the daily fluid requirements of the baby. The AAP further recommends that when mothers start weaning their kids, they should give cow’s milk and water to their babies to supplement their fluid intake.
In this regard, Dr. Abrams says that the AAP policy clarifies that there is virtually no role for juice during the first year of life and that expensive juice products designed specifically for infants are not of value.
The policy released by the AAP also stated parents should not give fruit juice to their toddlers in sipper cups and bottles as it can make it easier for the child to consume more amounts of juice than is prescribed. The pediatricians always warned parents against the use of juice as a remedy for diarrhea or to calm a distressed baby.
In the policy, parents are also asked not to give their children juice before bed as the sweetened dregs of juices in the baby’s mouth can cause demineralization as well as cavities in the teeth.
In fact, AAP had recently released guidelines concerning the sugar intake of children that was quite in-line with those recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA too had mentioned that babies below two years of age should not be exposed to foods with added sugar, especially in the form of sweetened beverages.
However, if you give fruit juice to your kids, the AAP recommends different consumption limits for different age groups. Children between one and three years of age should not be given more than half a cup of juice each day; for those between four and six years, half to three-fourth is permissible and for those between seven and 18 years, the quantity of fruit juice intake should not exceed one cup.
Fruits in their natural form are still the best options for babies, and as parents, you should start feeding fruits such as apples, bananas, pears, peaches, apricots, plums and avocados to your baby.