Is it OK to give my child fruit juice?

Answer From Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

It's OK for children older than age 1 to drink juice in small amounts. But whole fruit and plain water are better choices.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that fruit juice not be given to children younger than age 1, since it offers no nutritional benefits in this age group. Juice also might increase the risk of tooth decay and cause your baby to prefer sweeter flavors instead of plain water.

The AAP also recommends against giving children fruit juice at bedtime or to treat dehydration or diarrhea. However, a small amount of juice can be given to treat constipation.

For children ages 1 to 6 years, the AAP recommends limiting juice to 4 to 6 ounces (120 to 180 milliliters) a day. But juice should be given as part of a meal or snack. Avoid allowing your child to sip juice throughout the day.

For children ages 7 to 18, consider limiting juice to 8 ounces (240 milliliters) a day — half of the recommended daily fruit servings.

Research suggests that drinking small amounts of 100% fruit juice doesn't affect a child's weight. However, fruit juice contains calories. Just like any other food or calorie-containing drink, too much fruit juice can contribute to weight gain.

If you give your child fruit juice, choose 100% fruit juice instead of sweetened juice or juice cocktails. While 100% fruit juice and sweetened fruit drinks might have similar calorie counts, your child will get more nutrients and fewer additives from 100% juice. Adding water to 100% fruit juice can make a little go a long way.

One cup of 100% fruit juice equals 1 cup of fruit. Juice lacks the fiber of whole fruit, however, and can be consumed more quickly. Although a small amount of fruit juice each day is fine for most children, remember that whole fruit is a better option.

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March 04, 2020 See more Expert Answers